Here’s an amazing letter from Michael Jeffery, manager of The Jimi Hendrix Experience and The Animals to the great Tom Wilson, at that time an A&R man at The Animals’ label, MGM Records, proposing a possible Eric Burdon & The Animals/Mothers of Invention/Jimi Hendrix Experience concert at Carnegie Hall !
Can you imagine–Hendrix, at the peak of his game, between “Are You Experienced” and “Axis Bold as Love;” Zappa and the Mothers likewise, between “Absolutely Free” and “We’re Only In It For The Money;” and Burdon & The Animals between “Winds of Change” and “The Twain Must Meet.” Jeffery mentions adding Hendrix to the bill as a “way to make the show a real sell-out attraction.” No kidding !
Michael Jeffery co-managed Hendrix with Chas Chandler, the former Animals bassist and Hendrix’s producer. Jeffery was a controversial figure, rumored to have been an operative for the MI-5, the British secret counter-intelligence and security service. There has long been talk that Hendrix was about to fire Jeffery just prior to his death, and rumors he was somehow involved in Hendrix’s demise. Jeffrey himself died in a plane crash in 1973.
Tom Wilson is one of the unsung greats of the music business; he produced artists running the gamit from John Coltrane and Sun Ra to Bob Dylan and the Velvet Underground. Wilson, while a staff producer at Columbia Records, oversaw some of Dylan’s greatest recordings, including the albums “The Times They Are a-Changin’,” “Another Side of Bob Dylan,” and “Bringin’ It All Back Home,” as well as “Like A Rolling Stone.” He also produced Simon & Garfunkel’s debut album, “Wednesday Morning, 3 AM” and after it wasn’t a hit, was inspired to put electric instruments on their song “The Sounds of Silence.” The original, acoustic version of the song had failed to garner any attention, and so Wilson, inspired by The Byrds electric version of “Mr. Tambourine Man” overdubbed electric instruments, without Simon & Garfunkel’s knowledge. They may not have initially appreciated this, but the song went to #1 and launched their career. Wilson is also famous for signing the Velvet Underground, Mothers of Invention. and Blues Project to Verve Records, all of whom he produced.
I love finding documents like this, which evoke a magic time in the music business, and in this case, reveal an unknown (and amazing) bit of information. I’ll be posting more of these in the coming months.