Experience Jimi Hendrix

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Experience Jimi Hendrix


“It’s a bit embarrassing, but I came into Hendrix a little bit late in my guitar playing life,” Hocking admits. “I know that’s ironic because I call myself Jimi Hocking, with the same spelling!” Hocking grew up in a musical family, and was exposed to lots of different styles throughout the seventies, when he was cutting his teeth. He started playing electric guitar around the mid ’70s and began forming his own ideas based on his musical experiences at that time – Countdown, AC/DC and things like that. Then in the early days of video, a mate brought around a tape of a Hendrix concert. Hocking was hooked. “He was jamming off, doing his own thing, and I remember me and my friend sat there watching with our jaws open thinking ‘What’s he doing?’ Because we were so used to the idea of rock music being kinda tidy. I know that sounds a bit weird, but if you take and AC/DC song or even a Thin Lizzy song, it was very structured. And we saw this guy with his eyes shut and his mouth open playing what we thought was kind of this jazzy, free-form thing, with no real care for song structure. We were a mixture of blown away and confused that somebody would do this!” 

At first Hocking didn’t quite connect that he could do the same thing. Hendrix-style improvisation seemed a little bit too otherworldly and beyond his grasp. It took a Kevin Borich live performance of Voodoo Child when Hocking was an up-and-comer in the actual scene before he started to realise that he too could tap into that spirit. “This was the key, this was the lore of electric guitar,” Hocking discovered. “This was how to do it. There are great stories, like Mick Jaggar saying that when he first heard Hendrix play he was driving his car along and Purple Haze came on the radio. He pulled his car over to the side of the road and said ‘What the hell is that?’ It was a sound no-one had heard at the time. Clapton had a very similar experience of ‘I need to know who the hell that is! Who is this guy?’ That would have been an astonishing time to be a part of.”

The Melbourne Experience Hendrix event is a follow-up to a similar show in Sydney last year featuring Powerfinger’s Darren Middleton, Rick and John Brewster of The Angels, Jak Housden of The Whitlams, Stuart Fraser of Noiseworks, Peter Koppes of The Church, Steve Edmonds from Jimmy Barnes’ band and former Screaming Jet Grant Walmsley. “They used mostly the Sydney identities for that one, so I knew it was happening and I saw the footage of that, and I was happy they contacted me for Melbourne because I actually fancied doing it. I love these concept things. Like, me and Geoff Achison will do a concert together and we’ll get Lloyd Spiegel or someone to get up, and people love the event. There’s power in the numbers. Dave Leslie’s going to be doing it but mostly it looks like it’s going to be the Melbourne contingent of the guitar scene.

Being fellow guitar nerds, our interview descends into twenty minutes of talk about Gibson Les Pauls (Hocking has an enviable collection), Paul Reed Smiths (he had the very first one in Australia), Seymour Duncan pickups (he’s one of the company’s Australian endorsers), the mandolin and shiny gold Yamahas. Eventually we remember we’re doing an interview. So is there anything else Hocking would like to say before we both hang up and undoubtedly strap on guitars for some Hendrix jamming in our respective loungerooms? “Basically, I’ve got my Blues Machine band, my main ongoing thing. And I have my little mandolin project going. Also there’s  band I went to India and Kathmandu last year to play with, so I have a growing audience on the subcontinent. And then I still have Screaming Jets gigs when they come along these days, not that there’s been many lately, but they happen!”