BY Blank on Blank

When things get too heavy just call me helium—the lightest known gas to man.

Keith Altham


Jimi Hendrix

Sept. 11, 1970 


(Full interview available at Rock’s Back Pages)

Keith Altham: Do you feel personally that you’ve got enough money now to live comfortably?

Jimi Hendrix: Ah, I don’t think so. Not the way I’d like to live. Because like I want to get up in the morning and just roll over in my bed into an indoor swimming pool. And then swim to the breakfast table, you know, come up for air and get maybe a drink of orange juice or something like that. Then just fold up on from the chair into the swimming pool and swim into the bathroom and, you know, go and shave or whatever…

Keith Altham: You don’t want to live just comfortably, you want to live luxuriously?

Jimi Hendrix: No, is that luxurious? I was thinking about a tent maybe overhanging a mountain stream. [laughs]

Keith Altham: It does appear, doesn’t it, the days of the baubles and bangles and the freaky hairstyle have all disappeared.

Jimi Hendrix: Yeah, but see everybody goes through those stages… The first time around when you wear all these different things, you know. I just did that because I felt like I was being too loud or something. Because my nature just changes, you know. Well I don’t want it to be only hyped up on all the visual thing, you know. I wanted people to like listen, too. I don’t know if they were or not though. It started to bring me down a little bit so I started cutting my hair. And started…rings disappearing one by one. [laughs]

[Music: “Trash Man” continues]

Jimi Hendrix: One time I said: maybe I should burn a guitar tonight. You know [laughs] smash a guitar or something like that. And they said: yeah, yeah! I said: you really think I should? They said: yeah, that’d be cool. I said: well, ok. So like I just worked up enough anger where I could do it, you know. But like I didn’t know it was anger until they told me that it was, like with destruction and all that. But I believe everybody should have like a room where they can get rid of all their releases, where they can do their releases at. So my room is a stage. [laughs]

[Music: Jimi Hendrix “Hush Now”]

Keith Altham: I mean, it has been said of you that you invented psychedelic music.

Jimi Hendrix: [chuckles] A mad scientist approach. The way I write things, I just write them with a clash between reality and fantasy mostly. You have to use fantasy to show different sides of reality; it’s how it can bend. As a word reality is nothing, but each individual’s own way of thinking. Then the establishment grabs a big piece of that. You know all I write is what I feel that’s all. I don’t really round it off too good. I just keep it naked almost, you know. And like when we go to play, you know, you’re flipping around and flashing around and everything. They’re not going to see nothing but what their eyes see, you know. Forget about their ears. So like well I was trying to do too many things at the same time, which is my nature, you know. I just hate to be in one corner. I hate to be put as only a guitar player or only as a songwriter. Or only as a music tap dancer. Something like this. [chuckles]

Keith Altham: I think certain people think of your music as essentially as “angry music.” As raging against perhaps the establishment principles.

Jimi Hendrix: Oh it’s not raging against it. If it was up to me there’d be no such thing as the establishment, you know. It’s the blues that’s all I’m singing about. Today’s blues.

Keith Altham: Do you have any politics in fact yourself?

Jimi Hendrix: Not really. I was getting ready to get into all that, but like everybody goes through that stage, too. I just…it all comes out in the music most of the time. We have this one song called “Straight Ahead.” And it just says, like, power to the people, freedom to the soul. Pass it on to the young and old. We don’t give a damn if your hair is short or long. Communication is coming on strong. And all this kind of stuff, you know.

[Music: Jimi Hendrix “Straight Ahead”]

Keith Altham: What are the things that you would like to see change?

Jimi Hendrix: Oh, I don’t know. More color in the streets probably. I mean [chuckles] I really don’t know. If there’s a new idea, a new invention, or a new gas, or a new whatever you know, it should be brought at least into the open instead of carrying these same old burdens around with you. You have to be a freak in order to be different. And freaks they are very prejudiced. You have to have your hair long and talk in a certain way in order to be with them. In order to be the other way you have to have your hair short and wear ties. So we’re trying to make a third world happen, you know what I mean? There are too many heavy songs out nowadays. Music has been getting too heavy, almost to the state of unbearable. I have this one little saying: when things get too heavy just call me helium—the lightest known gas to man. [laughs]

[Music: Jimi Hendrix “Come On (Let The Good Times Roll)”]

Keith Altham: You talk quite a bit about audio-visual importance, too. The importance of a having a film with your music. Now are you thinking in terms of the days when we can fit a cassette into the side of our television and play music and a film together or, I mean...

Jimi Hendrix: Yeah, a lot of people are making more money than they ever had nowadays—so when they get their flat they can, they always find themselves with an extra room. So like this extra room could be a whole audio-visual environment. They could go in there, you know just lay back, and the whole thing blossoms out with this color and sound type of scene. You can go in here and jingle out your nerves or something, you know.