In the vast tapestry of music history, certain moments and encounters stand out like shimmering constellations. One such luminous episode unfolded when Andy Summers, guitarist for The Police, found himself engaged in an impromptu jam with the legendary Jimi Hendrix.
In a recent interview with Rick Beato, Summers delved into the otherworldly aura of Hendrix. His experiences within the music scene, and the eclectic influences that shaped his musical journey.
“Jimi Hendrix: A Guitar God from Another Planet”
Summers vividly recalled the first time he encountered Jimi Hendrix’s cosmic presence in London’s blues scene. Hendrix’s attire, with a white Stratocaster, made a lasting impression on Summers and fellow musicians.
Summers was deeply influenced by Hendrix’s visual spectacle, marked by his attire and Stratocaster. Hendrix’s arrival in London was a seismic event that eclipsed the established blues players. That was signaling a shift in the musical landscape.
“An Unforgettable Jam Session”
The narrative takes an intriguing turn as Summers recounts his unexpected encounter with Hendrix in Los Angeles. Invited to A&M Studios, Summers found himself in a jam session with the guitar virtuoso.
Summers described Hendrix as a shy and introverted individual. He also shared how he and drummer Mitch Mitchell engaged in a spontaneous jam. This impromptu session eventually saw Hendrix switching to bass. This impromptu session, lasting about half an hour, marked one of the final memories Summers had with the legendary guitarist.
Before joining The Police, Summers took a hiatus from the music scene to immerse himself in classical guitar studies. This educational detour significantly influenced his musical approach and added depth to his later work with the band. Playing Bartók violin duets and experimenting with stranger chords during this period laid the groundwork for his unique contributions to The Police’s sound.
Summers revealed his desire to record an album of duets with Robert Fripp, the mastermind behind King Crimson. Unfortunately, the collaboration never materialized. However, the lessons learned from studying duets inspired the iconic riff in “Message in a Bottle.” Summers discussed how harmonies within the riff reflected the influence of his classical studies.
Reflecting on The Police’s hits, Summers shared insights into the crafting of songs like “Roxanne” and “I Can’t Stop Losing You.”
While expressing surprise at the enduring popularity of “Roxanne,” he highlighted the simplicity of the reggae groove that created its magic. The solo in “I Can’t Stop Losing You” bore the imprint of a unique guitar lesson from Lenny Breau, a jazz/country legend whom Summers considered the world’s greatest guitar player.
Andy Summers’ journey from the electric blues of London to impromptu jams with Jimi Hendrix, and success with The Police, is a testament to the limitless possibilities within the realm of music.
Through his stories, we catch a glimpse of the diverse influences that shape an artist. He proves that great music transcends boundaries and echoes through generations.
Summers’ encounters with musical legends like Jimi Hendrix and Lenny Breau are notes that resonate eternally.