Tristan Hazell lives and works in the shadow of the Westway on Portobello Road. What follows is a collection of observations, reviews, social comment, fiction, poetry, art criticism and more. Much of it is fiction and some of it will offend someone somewhere, I hope.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

I killed Jimi Hendrix.


I was fifteen. I don't know how old Jimi was but you can look it up on wikipedia. It'll probably lie.

I'd heard about the festival on the Isle of Wight, packed a spare T shirt and a sleeping bag and headed south. Luckily I was picked up by a bunch of hippies in a camper van heading for the island too. They sort of took me under their collective wing and looked after me in their way.

There was room for me in one of their tents and I earned my keep by rolling joints and road testing the pills they didn't recognise. The Isle of wight for me that year was something of a blur but I came out of the fog of uncontrolled controlled substances to witness what was to be an epiphany.

He looked like god would have looked if there were no heaven. He played his guitar like there was no hell.

But.

At one point he squirted his guitar with lighter fuel then attempted to ignite it with a book of matches... If you see the film of the event now it looks like it was a pretty effortless thing; guitar, fuel, match, boom.

But it wasn't like that. It took him for ever to get that guitar alight and I remember standing there thinking this can't be right as match after match failed to spark or gutted out.

I thought to myself that this god deserved better than that. His guitar should  spontaneously combust or at least be lit by a gold Ronson.

I carried those thoughts all the way back to Banbury and they never really left me.

A year later Chris called from London, he had been invited to a party in Notting Hill that he knew Jimi was going to be going to, could I come down?  I packed a spare T shirt and stole the Gold plated Ronson from the old mans office, I hitch-hiked to london.

Chris met me in Shepherds Bush and we walked to a place called the Tabernacle in Notting Hill; a kind of squatted old church but Jimi had left, he'd gone on to a party on All Saints Road but by the time we got to that party Jimi had left there too, he'd gone home but one of the guys there gave me the address and I decided to go and give him the lighter so he didn't need to go through the earthly embarrassment of wet matches at future gigs.

The house wasn't very far away in a kind of crescent, Jimis flat was in the basement but I was too scared to knock on the door so I sat outside on the steps and decided to wait until he came out again and then give him the lighter and explain that it worked first time every click even in the rain and he never had to bother with soggy matches again.

Jimi never came out and I sat there a long time sitting on the step clicking the lighter then clicking it shut.

At some time a couple of guys came along and stood at the top of the steps down to Jimis flat. They didn't seem to see me or if they did I didn't matter. they were arguing. The big guy was saying to the other guy in the suit that he didn't want to do it, that it was wrong. The guy in the suit said come on if we don't do this we'll be broke watching a madman try to write symphonies for a hundred electric guitars. We got do do this.

He said have a cigarette it'll calm your nerves. You'll see.

He gave the big guy a cigarette then tried to light it with a book of matches that were too wet then saw me sitting on the step clicking that gold plated Ronson on and off and said hey kid give us a light. I stood up and went over and lit the big guys cigarette, he smoked a few drags then said ok and the two guys went down into Jimis flat.

They came out a while later and the small guy in the suit gave me a fiver and said thanks for the light kid, you saved a life tonight.

I sat there for a long time after that until an ambulance turned up and they carried a body out on a stretcher.

I knew it was Jimi.


And I knew I had killed him.

I was the guy who lit the cigarette which calmed the nerves and steeled the resolve of the man who killed Jimi Hendrix.

Excuse me while I kiss the sky.

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