In a recent interview with Sonic Dorms, former Judas Priest guitarist KK Downing talked about how Jimi Hendrix influenced his career and the factors that often affected Jimi’s performance.
Jimi Hendrix is considered one of the most influential guitarists of all time. Unfortunately, the iconic guitarist passed away back in 1970 at the age of 27, leaving lots of great stories and tunes behind.
In the conversation, KK Downing was asked the secret behind his ability to bring a lot of energy to the stage, and the Priest guitarist revealed that he actually got this trait by watching Jimi Hendrix live on the stage.
KK Downing started to praise Jimi Hendrix and his talent by saying that he was natural and raw, electrifying, and emotional. Besides that, KK Downing mentioned that Jimi’s performance and appearance on the stage were on another level.
Although KK Downing had said lots of great words about Jimi, he also pointed out that Jimi’s performance got affected by the system, his management, various influences in his life, and more.
As Downing claimed, later in his career, Jimi was struggling to death with ‘some kind of gremlins getting into his mind’ which is why the legendary guitarist had some performance issues at some point in his career.
The interviewer made the following statement:
“As a guitar player on stage, you’re very fiery, you’re brimming with this optimism, I’ve always loved that about your spirit in the band, you ignite this energy into all that you do when you’re playing.”
To which KK Downing replied:
“I saw Hendrix six times, and there were times when he was absolutely, totally natural and raw, and his mind must have been in absolutely the right place, and he was absolutely electrifying.
Later on, he was affected by the system, management, and other things, influences in his life, and obviously, he was at times, and I think it’s quite well documented – in a short space of time, he started to suffer some kind of gremlins getting into his mind, and it did affect his performance and playing.
When he was that free spirit, which I witnessed several times, it was just something that stayed with me forever. And so I acknowledge the fact, not only was he a great musician and great guitar player, very flamboyant, a great stage performer, he was the all-encompassing…”
“When he hit the stage, he went out there, and there was a sense I think that the people in the audience could see that he was totally a free spirit, he was emotional, he was a great player, a great performer, and he was there for the people as one. And from the second he hit the stage to the minute he left, he was absolutely, totally encapsulated and engulfed in his entire performance, and wanted to give 100%.
And not just the playing, but how he looked, how he performed, just everything, and I guess that always stayed with me, so when I hit the stage, and sometimes it was for a long period, it was important to sustain that energy and portray that energy and that gladness of wanting to be there every second to perform for the audience.
That was all a part of me being on the stage, and it was great, and I was really proud of my bandmates because we rebounded off each other with this energy for so long, and it was a part of how we became successful, I think because we had a duty to each other and unspoken bonds that we would go out there literally all guns blazing.”
You can check out the whole interview below.