Mitch Mitchell, the innovative drummer who anchored the Jimi Hendrix Experience, died of apparent natural causes on November 12 in Portland, OR, at the age of 62. Mitchell is survived by his mother, his wife of 24 years, a daughter and two grandchildren.
The London native had recently completed an 18-city American tour as a featured performer with Experience Hendrix, a concert series celebrating the legacy of Hendrix with an all-star line-up of artists, including his former Hendrix band mate and dear friend, bassist Billy Cox. Portland was the tour’s last stop, and Mitchell had been staying in town for some vacation time before his planned return to England.
“We’re all devastated to hear of Mitch’s passing,” said Janie Hendrix, CEO of Experience Hendrix, LLC, in a statement. “He was a wonderful man, a brilliant musician and a true friend. His role in shaping the sound of the Jimi Hendrix Experience cannot be underestimated. Over the course of the recent tour, he seemed delighted with the interchange with the other musicians and the audiences. There is no question that he was doing what he loved.”
Mitchell began working with Experience Hendrix, the family owned company established by James “Al” Hendrix shortly after its inception. He had been featured in many of the documentaries and programs issued by the company over the years.
Before signing on as the drummer with the Jimi Hendrix Experience, Mitchell had built a reputation through his work with The Pretty Things and Georgie Fame & The Blue Flames, and had been one of the top session drummers of the time starting at the age of 14. His drumming technique was an amalgam of rock and jazz styles as he was heavily influenced by the likes of Elvin Jones and Max Roach.
He joined the Jimi Hendrix Experience in 1966 at age 20, and performed with Hendrix and bassist Noel Redding at their U.S. debut at the Monterey Pop Festival in June of 1967. He was also, most notably, part of the later version of the Jimi Hendrix Experience that included Billy Cox, who performed the closing set of the Woodstock Festival on August 18, 1969. Following Hendrix’s death in 1970, Mitchell worked with producer Eddie Kramer in completing work on both “The Cry of Love” and “Rainbow Bridge” albums.
With Mitchell’s death, there are no living members of the original Jimi Hendrix Experience — Hendrix overdosed in 1970 and Redding passed way in 2003 — and is the only rock group in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame with all its original members deceased.