Obituary: Mitch Mitchell 1947-2008

A look back at the life of Jimi Hendrix's drummer

Mitch Mitchell, best known as Jimi Hendrix‘s drummer in The Jimi Hendrix Experience, was found dead in Portland, Oregon last night (November 12).

According to early reports, the drummer, who was still touring with the Experience Hendrix Tour, passed away in his hotel room. He was 61.

Born on July 9, 1947 in Ealing, west London, Mitchell began his showbiz career early, appearing on a children’s TV show while still a teenager, before graduating to drums with a series of bands in the ’60s.


Mitchell joined The Tornados in 1963, though it was rumoured that his individualistic approach to the drums caused him to clash with the band’s pioneering producer Joe Meek, who wanted someone who would follow orders without adding an artistic interpretation.

He then played with groups including The Coronets, The Lively Set, The Riot Squad – and he even auditioned for The Who in 1964, but lost out to Keith Moon.

Having drummed for Georgie Fame in the mid-’60s, Mitchell was eventually recruited to drum for Hendrix in around 1966 after the US guitarist had been brought over to the UK by his manager, and former member of The Animals, Chas Chandler.

Joined by Noel Redding on bass, the trio recorded the albums ‘Are You Experienced’, ‘Axis: Bold As Love’ and ‘Electric Ladyland’ together, with critics noting Mitchell‘s ability to blend in jazz-inspired rhythms into rock ‘n’ roll.

During that period, while Redding and Hendrix were said to have had their differences – the bassist was actually a guitarist first and was frustrated at not playing his original instrument – Mitchell remained a constant presence, with the pair recording the acclaimed cover of Bob Dylan‘s ‘All Along The Watchtower’ together in 1968, with Hendrix supplying the bass part.

In 1968 Mitchell also played drums in the Dirty Mac band which featured John Lennon, and famously played as part of The Rolling Stones‘ TV special ‘Rock And Roll Circus’.


Although The Jimi Hendrix Experience split in 1969 and Mitchell was not involved in the guitarist’s subsequent band Gypsy Sun And Rainbows, he returned to drum for Hendrix‘s headlining appearance at the 1969 Woodstock Festival.

The pair then recruited bassist Billy Cox for a new incarnation of the Hendrix Experience in 1970, often known as the Cry Of Love band, who toured the US and Europe.

Following Hendrix‘s death on September 18, 1970, Mitchell worked on several posthumous recordings, before getting involved in a series of session work over the decades.

At the time of his death Mitchell was involved in the Experience Hendrix Tour, which saw the drummer and a series of guests performing the Experience‘s songs live.

Following US dates, he was due to return home to the UK on November 12, but was found dead in his hotel room having died of natural causes according to the Multnomah County Medical Examiner.

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