John “Mitch” Mitchell, drummer for the Jimi Hendrix Experience, was found dead in a Portland, OR hotel room early this morning. He was 61.
Widely acknowledged as one of rock’s best drummers, Mitchell played a key role in shaping and driving the JHE sound. He was primarily influenced by Jazz drummers such as Max Roach and Elvin Jones, but Mitchell was adept at a wide range of styles, enabling him to keep pace with Hendrix at all times, no matter if they were off to Saturn or the bottom of the sea. He anchored the landmark albums Are You Experienced?, Axis Bold As Love, and Electric Ladyland, and was behind the kit for Monterey Pop, Woodstock, and Isle Of Wight.
Mitch Mitchell was no sideman. He was every bit as innovative and proficient on the drums as Hendrix was on guitar. Former Experience manager Chaz Chandler revealed how he and Hendrix came to choose Mitchell for the JHE over Aynsley Dunbar: “We actually tossed a coin and it came down for Mitch.” Good thing – they got one of the best in the business.
Listen: Manic Depression
[Both songs are from the album Live At Winterland]