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R.I.P. Mitch Mitchell

The Jimi Hendrix Experience (l-r): Noel Redding, Mitch Mitchell and Hendrix

Drummer Mitch Mitchell, the last surviving member of the Jimi Hendrix Experience, was found dead Wednesday morning in his Portland, Oregon, hotel room, Billboard reported today. Mitchell, 62, most likely died of natural causes, the Multnomah County Medical Examiner's office said.

Mitchell had just finished the "Experience Hendrix" tour with former Band of Gypsies bassist Billy Cox and several others including Buddy Guy, Jonny Lang, David Hidalgo and Cesar Rosas of Los Lobos, Eric Johnson and Chris Layton, Billboard reported. The native of Ealing, Middlesex, England, joined the Jimi Hendrix Experience in 1966 after playing with a number of UK bands including the Pretty Things, Georgie Fame and the Blue Flames and the Riot Squad.

"Voodoo Child," Live at Woodstock, August 1969

Mitchell was one of the first rock drummers to be heavily influenced by jazz, and his and Hendrix's improvisational interplay was a trademark of both the Experience's live shows and studio sessions. Hendrix and Mitchell would often record alone, minus bassist Noel Redding, who died in 2003.

Mitchell left the Experience in mid-1969, but rejoined Hendrix at Woodstock that summer. After Hendrix's death in late 1970, he helped finish the guitarist's posthumous recordings Cry of Love and Rainbow Bridge. He joined the progressive-rock band Ramatam shortly thereafter, leaving after one album and several opening gigs for Emerson, Lake & Palmer. Also playing with Cream's Jack Bruce, Jeff Beck and Terry Reid - the man who nearly missed being Led Zeppelin's singer - Mitchell largely did session work in the succeeding years, including on Junior Brown's 1998 album Long Walk Back.

According to this Web site, the Jimi Hendrix Experience played Houston four times: February 18, 1968 at the Music Hall (two shows), and August 4, 1968; April 19, 1969; and June 6, 1970 (the "Cry of Love" band, with Cox on bass), all at the Sam Houston Coliseum. - Chris Gray

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Chris Gray has been Music Editor for the Houston Press since 2008. He is the proud father of a Beatles-loving toddler named Oliver.
Contact: Chris Gray