"Jimi Jon", Guitar Hero




NK: We are proud to introduce John Campbell in this BRU interview: the lead guitarist and vocalist for Are You Experienced? A Birmingham, UK Jimi Hendrix three-piece! How are you doing?

John: Hi, thanks for the invite. I'm doing the best I can under the circumstances.

NK: 24 years rockin’ with Are You Experienced, this has been the combination of your experience in numerous projects and Hendrix-ology! When did you first become a musician, then Jimi fan?

John: My older brother Chris introduced me to the guitar when I was 12 years old. He was a drummer at the time and went on to join Heavy Metal giants Judas Priest, prior to them being signed.

He would rehearse at our house in the early days, and I would sit outside the door with my acoustic guitar trying to play along with the songs they would be playing. He introduced me to the music of Jimi Hendrix, and though a bit too young to "Get it" I was soon a transfixed fan.


NK: You’ve been called one of the WORLD’s best tribute bands (YorkshireLive). I agree.

John: Thank you, but there are many, many Jimi Hendrix tributes out there and I think we all try our best to bring his music alive, and introduce it to new generations. If his music is being performed with respect and passion, then it's all good in my book.

NK: How do you maintain dedication so consistently, as a musician overall, John? It‘s beautiful and inspiring to witness Jimi Hendrix through Are You Experienced.

John: I often get asked if I get tired of performing Jimi Hendrix's music as I've been playing it for so long? The simple answer is that his music is open to interpretation, as such it's a pleasure to improvise over many of his songs. I'm not one of those tributes that apes every note that he played, rather I use his music as a framework for what I can improvise over.


NK: The behind-the-head and teeth Stratocaster playing define many past shows! Any favorite moments?

John: In the early days, I used to hold the guitar up while squirting lighter fuel over it. The one time when I was doing this, I noticed my hand getting warm! Unknown to me the lighter fuel had run down the neck and onto my had the flames.

I threw the guitar to the floor, looked at my hand which by now had a blue glow around it! This was the burning lighter fuel! I've never got off a stage so fast in my life, straight to the cold water tap in the sink to cool my hand down. Lucky for me, no burns. Lol.

I have, on three occasions now, played with Jimi's younger brother Leon Hendrix on his tours of the UK. After seeing me on some videos, he personally asked me to be his guitarist for his tours. They were memorable, he even stayed at my house for a month while we toured the UK.

So I have some Jimi stories from Leon that were priceless. And of course the icing on the cake was being asked to open The Isle Of Wight Festival in 2010 to celebrate the 40 year anniversary of Jimi Hendrix playing there. That really was something special.


NK: COVID-19 has really affected the option of playing publicly. Are you able to perform at venues and bring the ‘Fire’? It’s essential to reach your goals while stayin’ well.

John: Unfortunately, Are You Experienced? have been unable to play for over four months now, since the Covid-19 Lockdown. It really has decimated the live music scene in the UK. We can only hope that we can return to doing what we love soon. So far this year we have lost some prestigious gigs through the pandemic.

We were due to open The Isle of Wight festival once more, to mark Jimi's 50th anniversary playing there. Canceled. We were due to headline The Re-Woodstock festival in Italy. Canceled.

We were due to play at Le Mans, in France. Canceled. So, like many musicians, this year has been devastating for us with the loss of income and gigs.


NK: We’d love your thoughts on the undeniable legacy of this blues-to-rock era due to Black musicians from Howlin’ Wolf, Lead Belly to Jimi Hendrix. Their songs brought so many people together! You’re part of it.

John: I think it's important for anyone that loves rock music to realise that it all came from the early Black musicians playing The Blues with the one thing more important than the notes... Feeling!

Rock music has come an awful long way since then, but there is still huge respect from today's Rock stars for those Black Blues players who laid their lives bare through their music, I still find it strange that there are not many Black Rock stars flying The Flag today? Or maybe it's because being black, they don't get the opportunity in the mainly white-dominated world of rock?

I don't know the answer, but Jimi Hendrix didn't see white or black audiences, his music was universal, but even he had a struggle with getting his music accepted in certain radio stations etc. It's a shame that so many folks today feel like they have to like a certain type of music based on the colour of their skin!

If the music touches something inside of you and stirs your emotions, who cares what colour the artist's skin is? We really need more Black musicians to Rock out!

NK: Thank you so much for having this Diasporic rock talk with Black Rockers United, much love. Take care now.

John: Thanks once again for inviting me along. Peace, Love, and Happiness.

You can find John Campbell on Are You Experienced? and !



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