Noel Redding, bass player for the Jimi Hendrix Experience from its formation in 1966 through its dissolution three years later, was found dead Monday May 12 at his home in the town of Clonakilty in southern Ireland. He was 57. An autopsy was planned to determine the cause of death.
Chas Chandler, a former bassist for the Animals who became a rock manager, recruited Redding and drummer Mitch Mitchell to form the Experience with Hendrix in England.
The band produced three groundbreaking albums of psychedelic rock — “Are You Experienced?,” “Axis: Bold as Love” and “Electric Ladyland.” Its hits included “Purple Haze,” “Hey Joe” and “Foxey Lady.”
Group broke up in 1969 before the famed Woodstock appearance by Hendrix, who died the next year as a result of a drug-and-drink mixture.
Redding wrote two Experience songs: “She’s So Fine” and “Little Miss Strange.”
Born in the English Channel port city of Folkestone, in county Kent, Redding played with the Modern Jazz Group and the Loving Kind before joining the Experience.
He was proudest of playing the 1967 Monterey Pop Festival, where the Experience made its American debut (and where Hendrix famously lit his guitar on fire) and the band’s 1992 induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland.
After the breakup of the Experience, Redding formed his own band, Fat Mattress, which released a 1969 album of the same name, followed by “Fat Mattress 2” in 1970. Both were re-released as a set in 2000.
Later, he formed the Noel Redding Band, which recorded “Clonakilty Cowboys” in 1975 and “Blowin’ ” in 1976. Other recordings included “On Tour” in 2001 and last year’s “Live From Bunkr-Prague.”
In 1990, Redding and Mitchell each published books about their experiences.”Jimi’s death was the most lucrative act of his sad career,” Redding wrote in “Are You Experienced?” in which he alleged that the Hendrix estate owed him money.
Just this past February, Redding threatened to sue Experience Hendrix, the company that manages the Hendrix catalog, for up to $5 million in lost earnings. The estate rejected the claim. The Experience Hendrix Web site mourned Redding’s death, saying, “His contributions to the Jimi Hendrix Experience shall never be forgotten.”
The Noel Redding Bass Guitar Method was published last year in the United States by Carl Fischer Music.
Redding played most Friday nights for the last 18 to 20 years at De Barra, a local pub, often with his friends John Coughlin from Status Quo and Eric Bell of Thin Lizzy. It was one way he reportedly made ends meet: He once said, “I was forced to sign away my royalties in 1974. I even had to sell the bass I used during that time, for $16,000.”
After living for three decades in a large house in West Cork, Ireland, that might be more than 300 years old, Redding put the manse and property up for sale last summer so he and longtime partner Deborah McNaughton could move to a smaller country place, according to the Irish Examiner newspaper, which reported that Redding was living mainly off the royalties from songs he wrote with other artists over the years, the rental income from a guest cottage on his property and the money he earned by playing at the pub.
Survivors include McNaughton. His mother passed away a few weeks before he died.