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Cable to McCartney from Hendrix: ‘How about coming to play bass?'

  • Source:
  • By: Emmanuel Legrand
It would have been the supergroup of all supergroups, the one that would have bridged jazz with rock and pop, and featured some of the greatest, if not the greatest musicians in their field, and it never happened. Alas!
 
Imagine jazz trumpet wizard Miles Davis, alongside the finest drummer of his generation, the master of swing Tony Williams, and the guitarist who is the template for all guitar players, the unique Jimi Hendrix, teaming up with the smoothest bass operator of all times, Paul McCartney.
 
The year is 1969. Davis is in studio with Williams and is planning to record with Hendrix. Alan Douglas is producing. They miss a bass player. Someone suggests McCartney.
 
And they sent on October 21 to Paul McCartney (via Apple Records, 3 Savile Row in England) a cable (for the non initiated, this was the quickest way to reach anyone in written form in the pre-fax and emails era...).
 

It reads: “WE ARE RECORDING AND (sic) LP TOGETHER THIS WEEKEND IN NEWYORK STOP HOW ABOUT COMING IN TO PLAY BASS STOP CALL ALWAN (sic) DOUGLAS 212 5812212 PEACE JIMI HENDRIX MILES DAVIS TONY WILLIAMS”

(photo: HRC Prague
The two cables
A cable came back on Oct 22, with the following words: “Ref. cable received from Hendrix Davies (sic) and Williams. Paul McCartney away from London on holiday not expected return for two weeks. PETER BROWN”
 
(Brown was the assistant to the Beatles’ manager Brian Epstein, and assumed day-to-day management duties at Apple after Epstein’s death in 1967 and went on to work for Robert Stigwood in the 1970s)
 
So because Macca was on holiday (actually he was most likely in his estate in Scotland) the world has missed on the opportunity to hear the music that these four amazing musicians would have produced together. 
 
Now the question is — why do we only hear about this today?

The answer comes from Paris with Yazid Manou, who is probably the most knowledgeable person I have ever met about Hendrix. Manou, who is an independent PR person, wants to know everything about Hendrix. And sometimes finds gems that are overlooked by others.

Photo: DR
The cables as displayed in Prague at the Hard Rock Cafe
And that’s what happened with these cables. According to Manou, the Hard Rock Cafe bought the original document via Christie's en 1995 and he saw it first on the site of the Hard Rock Café in Key West (Florida) in 2005. The cables were later sent to HCR in Prague, as part of the thousands of rock memorabilia pieces that the chain owns and that rotate around the world.
 
When asked if he has any doubts about the authenticity of the documents, Manou is adamant: “Absolutely none”, he answers. And when asked why has it not surfaced before since these cables were visible by anyone who went to HRC in Prague. “Many visitors will not pay attention to these telegrams,” says Manou. “It only takes a crazy fan like me to see the value of these cables and see the exceptional importance of these few words.”
 
Manou adds that to his knowledge no one had ever mentioned these facts and they do not appear in any book about the Beatles or Hendrix (and on that one I have to trust him). 
 
Manou is now trying to get a reaction from McCartney.

He also fantasises at the music that would have come out from these sessions. And so do we!

Last Updated: 03/26/12 10:15
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view comments Comments (3)

3 people have commented on this story so far. Tell us what you think below.
by Norwegian : Wood March 28, 2012 6:40 PM EDT (Guest)  click to register
McCartney was on holiday. damn, that`s coincidences. It would have been fantastic. Jimi Hendrix And virutuoso jazz musicians like Davis and Tony Williams wanted Mccartney on bass. It says something about his qualities, he is not your ordinary `pop artist`. I`m not sure if the sessionever happened, I don`t think Hendrix and Davis ever recorded together, it was in the planning, busy schedules and stuff but then Hendrix died. Maybe they scrapped it and hoped for it to happen later, with McCartney on bass. It`s interesting to, this stuff, I`m a huge McCartney fan, but also a fan of the others and interested in music. It appeals to my imagination.
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by Norwegian : Wood March 26, 2012 7:09 PM EDT (Guest)  click to register
Well, when I come to think of it, Miles Davis is incredibly harsh on Steve Miller in the book. He comes down on him like a werewolf, Davis had to warm up for him, or something, on some festival, I believe around 1969, or close, and it made him mad. Miller was just some simple pop artist to Davis while he was a groundbreaking jazz musician, a veteran, he disliked it immensely. I believe McCartney and Miller were friendly with each other and even made some music together at the time, maybe that`s why it didn`t happen, I don`t know. : )
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by Norwegian : Wood March 26, 2012 6:48 PM EDT (Guest)  click to register
Damn, that would have been the jam session of, every year! I`ve read the Miles Davis autobiography and he doesn`t mention it. He mention The Beatles, in a neutral sense, kind of, Miles Davis is very hash against artists he can`t stand, and vice versa, but it`s hard to figure out what he thought about The Beatles from the book. I bet he liked them, but wouldn`t admit it, he could be a little bit picky on white guys, with huge success, I don`t think he thought he got the success he deserved, and observed white jazz artists sell a lot more records of music inspired by him, styles he invented. It made him a little bit bitter, I think. But I like Miles, and hey, I like McCartney, damn! It should have happened. : )
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Cable to McCartney from Hendrix: ‘How about coming to play bass?'


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News Summary

It would have been the supergroup of all supergroups, the one that would have bridged jazz with rock and pop, and featured some of the greatest, if not the greatest musicians in their field, and it never happened. Alas! Imagine jazz trumpet wizard Miles Davis, alongside the finest drummer of his generation, the master of swing Tony Williams, and the guitarist who is the template for all guitar players, the unique Jimi Hendrix, teaming up with the smoothest bass operator of all times, Paul McCartney.