Mitch Mitchell (1947 – 2008)

RIP Mitch Mitchell


Voodoo Child (Slight Return)

John “Mitch” Mitchell (July 9, 1947 November 12, 2008) was an English drummer, best-known for his membership in The Jimi Hendrix Experience. Mitchell was known for his work on such songs as “Manic Depression” (a 3/4 rock waltz that finds Mitch playing a driving afro-cuban inspired beat), “Voodoo Child (Slight Return)[1], “Fire” and “Voodoo Chile” (a deep blues groove with subtle hi-hat). Mitchell came from a jazz background and like many of his drummer contemporaries was strongly influenced by the work of Elvin Jones, Max Roach, and Joe Morello.

Mitchell pioneered a style of drumming which would later become known as jazz fusion. Alongside Hendrix’s revolutionary guitar work and songwriting, Mitchell’s playing helped redefine rock music drumming.

Electric Ladyland cover, photo by David Montgomery

The death of Mitch gives me the opportunity to discuss the photo on Electric Ladyland, one of my alltime favourite record covers. The photo depicts nineteen nude women lounging in front of a black background.

“The cover was put together by Chris Stamp and Track Records art director David King while Hendrix was in the US. Stamp sent King and photographer David Montgomery down to the Speakeasy to round up some girls, with the brief to make them look like “real people. At £5 a head (or £10 with their knickers off) this sounds like authentic Stamp.” —33⅓ on Electric Ladyland by John Perry[2].

One of the 19 girls, Reine Sutcliffe, told the music paper Melody Maker:

“It makes us look like a load of old tarts. It’s rotten. Everyone looked great but the picture makes us look old and tired. We were trying to look too sexy, but it didn’t work out.”

British visual culture connoisseur Stephen Bayley adds:

“The concept was fully in accordance with the spirit of the Sixties: at the same time Harry Peccinotti and David Hillman had done a memorable photo feature for Nova magazine” –The Independent on Sunday, July 16, 2006 by Stephen Bayley[3]

I’m afraid I can’t agree with miss Sutcliffe on this matter. I find the realism in this photo not enticing but more than fascinating nonetheless, though I also admit I empathize about denying her five minutes of glamourous fame.

4 thoughts on “Mitch Mitchell (1947 – 2008)

  1. jahsonic

    Thanks and welcome to the blog. Will check your article, liked the site it’s hosted on, I believe Black Power. used to celebrate the black vibe to a high extent and it still at the heart of my musical aethetics.

  2. georgy

    As a kid I used to find the women in this picture old, tired, offputting. It was as sexy as watching my aunts naked. This was definitely an adult thing.

    I guess it still is, as this picture doesn’t show glossy/softcore grade women (which is what you expect when you are young and Playboy and Lui are you only vision of flesh) but to anyone having experienced the female body in its full reality, the picture actually resonates (the grainy skin, the saggy tits that say “merde” to each other).

  3. Vedran

    The cover is a masterpiece. The picture has an eerie and outlandish feel to it, probably due to the lighting. That outlandishness compliments Hendrix’ psychedelic and spacey sound. The women are “fleshy”. And I find it lovely to see such a wide range of breasts and nipples. It is a harmony of colours, forms, sizes and all of that au naturel.

    I’d like to point out the woman just behind the pale one who is lying on her stomach and is closest to the viewer. She looks like a Hindu goddess. She has this orange glow over her and really stands out from the other women. It is as everything is centered around her, she is also in the middle of the picture.

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