NYC’s hidden history: Jimi Hendrix recorded his last track at this Manhattan recording studio he built himself
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There’s no denying the global legacy of music legend Jimi Hendrix.
The Rock and Roll Hall of Famer, best known for his unmatched skills on the guitar, made waves in the industry during the 1960s, topping the charts with tracks like “Purple Haze” and “Voodoo Chile.”
His rock-blues sound and instrumental talents landed him the top spot on Rolling Stone’s list of the world’s 100 greatest guitarists, that publication notes.
While Hendrix’s legacy still influences music today and serves as an inspiration for many modern stars, according to industry experts, the musician also left behind a more tangible legacy – his Manhattan recording studio.
The new book “Here in Manhattan: A Site-by-Site Guide to the History of the World’s Greatest City” by Tom Begnal dives into the untold history of notable New York City sites, and tells the backstory of Hendrix’s famed recording studio.
Begnal told Fox News Digital in an interview that even though “everybody” knows Hendrix’s music, not everyone is aware that he owned and built his own recording studio in New York City.
“It’s remarkable the music that’s come out of there, even though he was only able to record one song while he was there,” the author said.
Electric Lady Studios officially opened in August 1970, as a then-wildly famous Hendrix aimed to build a space that encouraged creativity, “Here in Manhattan” reveals.
“Everything in it was built to his specifications,” Begnal writes in the book.
“The color of the lights could be instantly changed to match Jimi’s mood that day,” the book notes. “Psychedelic paintings reflected the current trend in art. The addition of round windows and curved walls made for better acoustics.”
The studio’s control room was made unusually large for that time, in order to allow plenty of space for artists and engineers to collaborate at the mixing console.
The name, Electric Lady, mimicked Hendrix’s third studio album, “Electric Ladyland,” which hit no. 1 on the U.S. charts in Nov. 1968, the book also shares.
Electric Lady Studios officially opened on Aug. 26, 1970, with special guests including Eric Clapton, Patti Smith, Ron Wood and Steve Winwood in attendance.
Hendrix got to work in his new space the next day, Begnal writes, returning to Electric Lady to record the instrumentals for “Slow Blues.”
His first recording at Electric Lady Studios would be the last recording he ever made, Begnal says in his book.
Less than 24 hours later, Hendrix left for the U.K. to embark on a European tour.
On Sept. 18, 1970, while staying in London with his girlfriend, Hendrix took several sleeping pills after a night of drinking and drug abuse.
Hendrix, who was then only 27 years old, died in his sleep after vomiting and aspirating some of the contents into his lungs, causing him to choke, Begnal writes in the book.
The musician was buried in Renton, Washington.
He was born nearby, in Seattle, on Nov. 27, 1942, and given the name Johnny Allen Hendrix, according to “Here in Manhattan.”
He was renamed four years later to James Marshall Hendrix to honor his father, the book notes.
Young Hendrix had an early obsession with the guitar, but it wasn’t until he was 15 years old that he acquired his first instrument – an old ukulele with one string.
After learning how to play Elvis Presley’s hit “Hound Dog” with the solo-stringed ukulele, Hendrix’s father bought him an acoustic guitar one year later.
Hendrix joined multiple bands as a teenager, eventually picking up an electric guitar with the group “The Rocking Kings” in the summer of 1959.
The band, which later formed into “Thomas and the Tom Cats,” was doing well enough for Hendrix to quit high school and focus on his guitar playing.
After serving a short stint in the U.S. Army, Hendrix hit the ground running on his music career, JimiHendrix.com says.
By 1964, the musician was touring with The Isley Brothers, best known for their hit song, “Shout,” followed by a tour with Little Richard, according to “Here in Manhattan.”
Hendrix went on to tour with musical act Ike & Tina Turner, as well as with Joey Dee and the Starlighters and saxophonist King Curtis.
Hendrix continued to play side gigs to make a living, but he was soon discovered by Bryan James “Chas” Chandler, of the British band The Animals, in 1966, while playing at Café Wha? in New York City’s Greenwich Village, according to JimiHendrix.com.
Chandler, who sought out a new career as a music manager and producer, signed Hendrix to a contract alongside former manager of The Animals, Michael Jeffrey.
After hiring a drummer and bass player to back Hendrix up, the new band was branded The Jimi Hendrix Experience.
The first few months brought Hendrix classics including “Purple Haze,” Hey Joe” and “The Wind Cries Mary,” notes JimiHendrix.com.
In May 1967, the band released its first album titled “Are You Experienced” in the United Kingdom, which spent 33 weeks on the British charts, “Here in Manhattan” reveals.
The Experience’s second album, “Axis: Bold as Love,” dropped in December 1967 in the U.K. and a month later in the U.S.
The album hit the top ten in both countries.
The following year, Hendrix and Jeffrey pitched the idea of opening a club in New York City, signing a lease for the venue at 52 West 8th St.
The space had previously been the home of The Generation – a club that hosted live acts like B.B. King, Chuck Berry and Janis Joplin, “Here in Manhattan” notes.
The three-story building, constructed in 1927, was first home to the Film Guild Cinema, and then housed the Village Barn – a country-western club that broadcasted the first live country music program from 1948 to 1950.
It was suggested to Hendrix and Jeffrey by studio engineer Eddie Kramer that their new space would be much better suited as a recording studio, according to Bergen’s book.
Hendrix, who spent $150,000 each year in recording studio fees, decided this option made more financial sense and began sculpting the studio that stands today.
After Hendrix’s death, artists began booking sessions at Electric Lady in his honor, notes the book.
Modern recording artists like Beyoncé, Bob Dylan, David Bowie, Lady Gaga, Led Zeppelin, Madonna, Taylor Swift and Stevie Wonder have all recorded at Electric Lady Studios.
“Over the years the Electric Lady Studio has been upgraded and modernized,” Begnal wrote. “But despite those changes, Jimi’s mojo still permeates the air there as much as it did in 1970.”
“Here in Manhattan” is now available for pre-order on Amazon.
“People walk down the street, and they’re sort of oblivious to what’s happened right there within arm’s reach of them… and it’s worth knowing about,” Begnal told Fox News Digital.