I’ve been a fan of Jimi Hendrix since I was a teenager, so I was interested to hear an interview on Radio 4 with Kathy Etchingham. She was the girlfriend of Hendrix in the late 60’s. It was quite strange to hear that she was relatively ‘straight’ when compared to the (at least on-stage) very flamboyant Hendrix. It made me curious how they got on and what they saw in each other. She played a major role in getting the English Heritage blue plague (above) for his stay in London (Mayfair) – the first for a rock musician.
From her blog:
She met Jimi Hendrix in the Scotch of St James nightclub, on the day of his arrival in London in September 1966. They became a couple during the time of his rise to stardom. Kathy was the inspiration for many of Hendrix’ compositions including “The Wind Cries Mary” (penned after an argument between Hendrix and Etchingham), “Foxy Lady” (during one of the first performances of this number Hendrix pointed her out from the stage), as the Katherina in “1983… (A Merman I Should Turn to Be)” and in Send My Love to Linda (the original lyrics of which were Send My Love to Kathy until Etchingham objected to being named). In 1969 she and Hendrix drifted apart.
She told the story that one day she was cooking mashed potatoes and they had an argument about it – how best to do it. Anyway, this resulted in plate throwing and Etchingham storming out. They made up the following day and she found that in between he’d written ‘The Wind Cries Mary’ (Mary was her middle name). The disagreement had obviously affected him and prompted an incredibly creative response. From her blog:
‘I wrote a song,’ he said and handed me a piece of paper with ‘The Wind Cries Mary’ written on it. Mary is my middle name, and the one he would use when he wanted to annoy me. I took the song and read it through. It was about the row we had just had, but I didn’t feel the least bit appeased.
I still find this story very surprising – how something so impressive and poetic could be prompted (at least in part) by something so mundane!
Info on the song here (it mentions other possible sources of inspiration) and here’s a clip of the real thing:
Picture credit here.