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  • Guitarist Johnny Jenkins Dead at 67

    Fri, 30 Jun 2006 09:15:05

    Guitarist Johnny Jenkins Dead at 67 - Acrobatic guitarist played with Redding and inspired Hendrix.

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    Guitarist Johnny Jenkins passed away in Macon, Georgia on Monday evening, June 26, at the age of 67. In the early '60s, Jenkins was playing on the Southern frat party circuit when he went up to a young, pre-fame Otis Redding with a promise to help bring the singer's sound to life. Redding accepted the offer, and Jenkins delivered, pioneering an acrobatic, stunt-friendly and left-handed style that would later inspire a young Jimi Hendrix.

    Hendrix was visiting an aunt in Macon when he happened to catch Jenkins and his band in concert. Subsequently, Arthur Ponder, who sang with Jenkins, said that Hendrix would "follow us around a lot. Next thing we know, he's Jimi Hendrix."

    Jenkins was a valuable session player, but was best known for his antics onstage, where he liked to play behind his head or do Chuck Berry imitations. Some thought that Jenkins could reach into the same stratosphere as Hendrix. "I was convinced he could have been the greatest thing in rock 'n' roll," said Capricorn Records co-founder Phil Walden. "He looked the part, he played the part, he acted the part."

    Instead, Redding died in a tragic plane crash in 1967 -- Jenkins hadn't joined the touring band in part because of his fear of flying -- and Capricorn faded from sight in the '70s. Jenkins and Walden reunited after a long hiatus on 1996's Blessed Blues, and the guitarist released two more albums in 2001 and 2003.

    Jenkins is survived by three children and eight grandchildren.

    --The ARTISTdirect Staff
    06.30.06



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