Purple Haze bandleader: If Jimi Hendrix were alive, he would be burning more than his guitar

Ralph Woodson of Purple Haze

Ralph Woodson

Ralph Woodson has mixed feelings about the March 5, 2013 Jimi Hendrix release, a 12-track studio album, “People, Hell and Angels.”

Woodson pays homage to Hendrix with a tribute band, “Purple Haze,” named after a well-known song by the guitar genius. More than 43 years after his death, Hendrix remains so popular many music fans claim him to be the greatest guitar player of all time.

The most amazing Hendrix fact is that he only played guitar 12 for years. The second is that for all his music, he only made three studio albums during his lifetime. There are more than 50 posthumous Hendrix records,12 of which are so-called studio albums.

Woodson is certain Hendrix would not approve.

“It might be a good idea to stop unless you have some real good material to put out,” Woodson said. “For people like me, it’s great to hear him creating not necessarily  something new but something that’s a little different. It’s always cool to hear something that I hadn’t heard by Jimi. But I really would be upset if somebody who had never heard Jimi had heard this first. And I think that might be the fundamental problem.”

Hendrix was a well-know perfectionist, and his complete albums are undisputed masterpieces: 1967’s “Are You Experienced” and “Axis: Bold As Love,” and 1968’s “Electric Ladyland.” He approved of just one live album, “Band of Gypsies,” recorded in 1970.

“People, Hell and Angels,” was publicized as a new studio album. But there are several versions of most of the songs on numerous posthumous albums.

“This was not the intention for this,” Woodson said about the newly released recordings. “This was for writing the finished product, which we’ve already heard.”

Woodson is a veteran East Bay guitarist who has played in rock, soul, blues and reggae bands. His band the Ralph Woodson Trio played original music and Hendrix covers, among others. When he and his band mates about a half-dozen years ago donned psychedelic ’60s clothes and made a full tribute group called the Ralph Woodson Experience, it became more popular. Eventually, the name changed to Purple Haze, and, like many rising groups, it moved from Crystal Bay Casino’s Red Room to the larger Crown Room.

Woodson mixes some of his originals in a Purple Haze set, and last year released an album, “Incredible Dreamer.” Woodson proved what those who have heard him before already know: he’s a virtuoso on the guitar. In fact, he a played all of the instruments on his album. Some jazz tracks on “Incredible Dreamer” give a hint, we surmise, as to his greatest passion, save for his appreciation of Hendrix.

“Jimi  would pull stuff out of the air,” Woodson said. “That was, ‘Wow! Where did that come from? I understood when he was doing Albert King licks but now, what is this?’ His creativeness was way out there.”

Woodson said on Friday at the Crystal Bay Casino he will for the first time perform “Angel” from Hendrix’s “Cry of Love.” He also will play “Hear My Train A Comin,” the version from the 1970 concert at the Berkeley Community Theater.

 

About Tim Parsons

Tim Parsons is the editor of Tahoe Onstage who first moved to Lake Tahoe in 1992. Before starting Tahoe Onstage in 2013, he worked for 29 years at newspapers, including the Tahoe Daily Tribune, Eureka Times-Standard and Contra Costa Times. He was the recipient of the 2011 Keeping the Blues Alive award for Journalism.

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