After seeing Jimi Hendrix perform “Hey Joe” at Cafe Wha?, Chas Chandler of The Animals invited Jimi Hendrix to tour Britain with him. 24 September 1966 found Chandler and Hendrix in London. Chandler, impressed by Hendrix’s talent, signed him to a contract, launching the legendary guitarist’s music career. Chandler brought Hendrix to the London Polytechnic on October 1, 1966. During this time, Cream was also performing. Following the performance, Eric Clapton and Jimi Hendrix met for the first time and became friends. However, Clapton believed that Hendrix utilized two strategies to gain prominence prior to achieving fame.
Eric Clapton argued that Jimi Hendrix’s popularity was the result of two factors. Chas Chandler of The Animals was crucial to Jimi Hendrix’s musical career. Chandler recruited Noel Redding for Hendrix’s band because of his curly hair and suggested that Mitch Michell get his hair permed so that he would fit in with the Experience. In addition, he was the one who believed Hendrix’s meeting with Eric Clapton would have a significant impact on his career. Chandler, recognizing that Hendrix would rapidly become a guitar icon, believed that Hendrix’s popularity would skyrocket if he had the opportunity to perform with Eric Clapton. This was the reason he invited Hendrix to Cream’s performance. Dave Robinson, who managed the Jimi Hendrix Experience and the Animals, stated that Chandler intended to make Hendrix the next Eric Clapton.
Eric Clapton disclosed his views on Jimi Hendrix and his musical career in a 1968 interview with Rolling Stone. Clapton stated that Hendrix sang well despite his claims to the contrary. In addition, the guitarist remarked that the British audience enjoyed black musicians and Hendrix’s magical and sexual aura. According to Clapton, Hendrix took full advantage of this. He did so to impress the audience and was successful. Eric Clapton told Rolling Stone the following regarding Jimi Hendrix: “I do not wish to be critical regarding it. I believe Jimi can sing very well; however, he has convinced everyone that he cannot sing. I believe he can sing quite well. I concur that he is an excellent guitarist. I prefer listening to him rather than watching him. When he first arrived in England, the English had a huge obsession with spades. They adore that magical, sexual quality. They are all susceptible to such schemes. Everyone in England continues to believe that spades have large genitalia. And Jimi came over and exploited that to the f*cking maximum. Everybody fell for it. Sh*t. I fell for it.
I eventually began to suspect it. After getting to know him, I realized that is not where he is, not at all. When he does those things on stage, he is testing the audience. He will engage in numerous activities, such as playing with his tongue, playing his guitar behind his back, and rubbing it up and down his groin. And he’ll look at the audience, and if they’re into it, he’ll dislike them. He will continue to do so, putting them on. Perform less music. If they do not appreciate it, he will play straight because he knows he must. It’s amusing. According to what I’ve heard, the audience’s response to his first set, during which he performed all of that garbage, was lukewarm. And he just played in the second set, which is fantastic.” He then proceeded:
“He had the entire team in England. It was exactly what the market wanted: a psychedelic pop star with a bizarre appearance. They are also still obsessed with spades, and the blues element was present. So Jimi walked in, donned his gear, and left immediately. It was the ideal formula. Underneath it all, he possesses extraordinary musical talent. He is one of the most talented musicians on the Western music scene. If you scrape away all the bullsh*t he carries, you’ll find a tremendously talented individual and a stunning guitarist for his age. I cannot take all of the plastic items.”
Jimi Hendrix, as Eric Clapton stated, tested the audience with his stage performances and acted accordingly; if the audience enjoyed the show, he would put on a show during the first set and play his guitar during the second. In addition, Clapton stated that Hendrix’s bizarre, magical, and sensual performances were the perfect formula for the music market, but that his talent extended far beyond his stage performances. Therefore, Clapton did not criticize Hendrix for taking advantage of his stage presence, but he did admit falling for it along with hundreds of others.