I was recently added to a Jimi Hendrix online group, and looking at the list of members I was startled to see how many were associates of or had crossed paths with Jimi himself.
I reminded me of my efforts – undertaken more than two decades ago – to find and interview Lonnie Youngblood. Lonnie's name was linked to Jimi's through a number of releases documenting – many might say exploiting – early studio sessions the two men had shared in New York City.
Just one of the many albums from the 1970s and 1980s linking Lonnie Youngblood and Jimi Hendrix. More recently, Youngblood appears on People, Hell and Angels and Martin Scorsese Presents the Blues: Jimi Hendrix
Like many musicians of the early to mid 1960s, Youngblood had little control over his own recordings. And once Hendrix attained stardom, the Youngblood tapes on which Hendrix had played were released on an avalanche of albums and later CDs.
Though I'd been traveling in Hendrix realms since first seeing Jimi play in 1969, I couldn't recall ever reading an in-depth interview with Lonnie. So, being curious about the relationship between Lonnie and Jimi and the circumstances of their recordings, I decided to find Lonnie and tell his story.
Now, in 2017, it would probably take about ten minutes to track down anyone. But back in the mid-1990s – pre-Google, and do you remember Netscape Navigator? - it was considerably more challenging. After exhaustively following leads, I found Lonnie's name associated with a music event that had recently taken place in Newark. After contacting the promoters of that gig, it opened up a path that eventually led to Lonnie's phone number.
Lonnie Youngblood at one of our interview sessions in 1996, outside the landmark Harlem destination Sylvia's.
We met in Harlem several times, and Lonnie's story was fascinating, not even taking his association with Jimi Hendrix into account. It was the tale of a musician working in the trenches, determined to make it.
If you don't know much about Lonnie Youngblood or that era of music, please take some time to follow this link to the articles page of my website and read the conversation with Lonnie: