This interview originally appeared in the March 1996 issue of Straight Ahead Magazine.

Jim Capaldi: I've got a good Hendrix story!

Steve Winwood: Go ahead.

J.C.: When Chas first brought Jimi to England, the first proper gig he brought him to was ours.

David Pearcy: Traffic?

J.C.: No, my group, Deep Feeling. I think it was at the Bag of Nails. Chas made a few calls and a lot of people came. We didn't have a set. We just did a Blues or something, he just came up and said, "Blues in E."

D.P.: Was he wound up to 10? Was it just unbearable volume?

J.C.: No, he just used our equipment from the club we were playing. He just had a guitar and plugged in, the same equipment. But I mean (serious tone) we were all impressed, especially the band.

D.P.: This would have to be late '66.

J.C.: Yeah, that's right! Our bass player Dave Meridith said that they wanted me and him to come down and audition the next day and he said I didn't know where you were, you disappeared or something. He said that they really liked us and wanted us to audition, so he always says to me when I see him, "We could have been in the Experience!" I said, "I don't think so Dave", but we all became friends.

D.P.: Great story. Jim when I showed you the footage from the Royal Albert Hall gig, February '69, you pointed yourself out standing behind Jimi's amp playing tambourine (right after Chris Wood's solo in "Roomful of Mirrors"). Now you were in a band that opened that show, what was it called?

J.C.: That was Mace, Capaldi, Wood and Frog. We only did a couple of gigs and that was the only one with Jimi.

D.P.: The video of that show is one of the most highly prized by collectors. There was some great music played that night.

J.C.: He played Blues....just a lot of Blues. It was really toward the end. He didn't really play a proper set....just playing Blues.

D.P.: What about you Steve? Do you remember the first time you met Jimi or did you see him play first?

S.W.: I can't remember the first time I saw him.

J.C.: We just sort of knew him didn't we?

S.W.: I remember playing a gig in Sweden, I think maybe that's the first time I saw him.

D.P.: The Electric Ladyland session out-takes are pretty famous amongst collectors, how did that go?

S.W.: We did two takes. You have take one.

D.P.: The voices you hear....was there actually a crowd of people in the studio?

S.W.: They were outside,not in the booth, but in sort of a lounge area.

J.C.: That wasn't at Electric Lady Studios. They didn't have Electric Lady then. I think it was the record plant. I remember it was my first trip to Nassau, and you and Chris both played on the album (Electric Ladyland). I remember because we were cutting "Pearly Queen" and Jimi used to come in and play on the hi-hat.

S.W.: Yeah, that's right!

J.C.: We also saw him when he was in the studio there. What was that track where he did the big intro? (imitates guitar sounds)

D.P.: Sounds like "House Burning Down."

J.C.: I was in the control room when he recorded that. He came back in and I said, "Great!" and he said (under his breath) "Just being a bit flash." He used to laugh and say "Just a little flash." I sat and watched him do that.

D.P.: Noel Redding and Buddy Miles have both said Steve, that there was talk of asking you to join the Experience and later the Band of Gypsys. Was anything ever said to you?

S.W.: "No."

J.C.: "It was rumored."

S.W.: "No one ever phoned me up and said, "Hey let's do something."

D.P.: You just heard the tape that recently surfaced of Jimi playing "Dear Mr. Fantasy." What are your feelings on that ?

J.C.: "Great! Incredible!"

S.W.: "Fantastic, yeah."

J.C.: "I never knew that existed. It was quite an honor. I just wish it was slightly better quality, but it was great to hear him do it."

D.P.: Steve, other than the "Voodoo Chile" session, didn't you do another session with Jimi?

S.W.: Yeah, and that might be the time Jim was talking about that he went down to Nassau. Chris and I went down and cut some other stuff and we were all just hanging around and in the end Jimi just said, "The bass player and the drummer haven't shown up." So I played drums (laughs) and Chris played bass.

J.C.: "On what?"

D.P.: It's just a jam, it's on one of those tapes I gave you Steve. Some of that is on a bootleg called "Hendrix & Traffic-a session" If you listen to the drumming you can tell it's not Mitch.

S.W.: (laughs)

J.C.: "Oh I would recognize him. But there was a track on the double-album where Chris played flute."

D.P.: That was called "1983".....

S.W.: What Chris and I did was actually from a much later period. That was at Electric Lady Studios. (This is probably the June 15,1970 session as described in John McDermott's book   "Sessions"--published by Little/Brown.)

D.P.: When I showed you both the footage of Jimi sitting on a bed, you kind of sat up and said, "That's the apartment!" You named the street. What was it?

S.W.: (after much thought) Corner of Brook Street and Bond Street I think.

J.C.: He had this kind of Indian bedroom, all draped in silk, Indian, Persian type of things.That was his pad in England.

S.W.: How long did Jimi live in England?

D.P.: Not a long time really, and one of the places he lived had been occupied by the composer Handel. There is a historical society that wants to erect a plaque in honor of Handel and another group wants to similarly honor Jimi and the factions are at odds on this.

J.C.: (with a smile) Handel and Hendrix!

S.W.: He was a true musician, Hendrix, he wasn't what I would call a  "rock poet". He was a great songwriter, but he was a true musician.

D.P.: You can see in photos and video of Hendrix this almost supernatural aura that surrounded him, part of the myth and image that history has created for him I guess. I have been a devotee all these years and even I percieve it. As two people that knew Jimi, is there anything you can say or remember about him that would bring him down to "regular guy" status?

J.C.: "He was such a sweet guy, such a warm guy. He never made you feel like...I'M HENDRIX. This is what I remember most.

S.W.: He was not full of himself at all, very humble. To me that's all he ever was. He seemed like a regular guy. I mean he wasn't a regular guy like down at the pub having pints, it was a different agenda than that. But I always thought that's really what he was, he wasn't some sort of crazy madman at all. He was a regular ...gentleman really.

J.C.: But he was so progressive in his thinking musically. He was wonderfully experimental. I mean you can hear it on the recordings. It was only four-track, but the way he used feedback and the effects he got in the studio were so powerful compared to what you've got today.

D.P.: Did you see him as a Bluesman or a Rock performer?

S.W.: He was an artist really. He wasn't a Bluesman although he was rooted in the Blues.

J.C.: His vision was somewhere else.

S.W.: It was complicated intricate music. It was nothing that was thrown together. It was very studied. He had a wide knowledge of music, and applied that to the Blues or applied the Blues to that.

J.C.: (Starts singing "Up From the Skies") It's almost like a soft Jazz. His mind...lyrically, mentally, he has such a wonderful curious mind. When he spoke, he spoke in kind of cartoon images. Some really interesting descriptions of things. But very charming, he never made you feel like, I'm this wierd electric genius...non of that. He was wonderful."

D.P.: He obviously had trouble getting past the image that the record company and management created for him.

J.C.: HE knew what he was. HE knew his image. he knew his impact, and he certainly knew how to play it up. But he never carried it on to where he acted like a big.... He just knew what he was and did it onstage for people. He would do the whole nine yards in performance but then again he was just a cool, cool guy. We jammed a few times down at the Speakeasy. He would always be there, or Noel would always be there.

D.P.: This is a great visual for a fan like me, picturing the club scene back then with you two sitting here, Hendrix over there, a couple of the Beatles over there, Pete Townshend over here....What a picture!

J.C.: Yeah, whoever was in town would come in. I saw Janis Joplin there or Kieth Moon would be running across the tables (laughs). A friendly kind of place. It was the beginning of the club scene. The Bag of Nails, the Elbow Room, they were just old style night clubs.

D.P.: Do you think jazz was the next step in his musical progression?

J.C.: "He was about to. We once went to see Roland Kirk and Jimi was supposed to show up and play, but he never did. Everybody knew about it."

D.P.: They did jam once. I have heard a tape of Jimi talking about it, but it appears  to be one of the few times he played that some sort of recording device was not present. It seems that looking at some of the hinted at but unexplored directions Jimi might have taken, that he was held back from doing what he wanted. J.C.: "I think he said a lot though. He wasn't just about screaming loud guitar. Look at "Little Wing."

S.W.: "I think he knew how to handle the medium, to get across what he wanted. I don't think he was restricted. I don't think so."

J.C.: "I'll be honest with you, I really wasn't in his face 24 hours a day, but I had a strong feeling of Jimi all through that thing where we played that show at the Albert Hall. It was like...the end of it really. And there was a big impression... it was a big dark black cloud over the whole thing. He just stood there on the stage playing the Blues and it was like...totally gone, a separation. It's all over, the Experience was over and what he'd written and what he'd done and all the great stuff from that period was over. I don't know what he would have done next. But the first phase...that was it. He definitely said it all. He was like this massive blast that happened. Who knows? Perhaps that was all that was meant to be. He said so much on those albums.

S.W.: The period, it was about the time when big business discovered the big bucks that Rock & Roll was making. This was about the time I was out with Blind Faith in 1969.

J.C.: Jimi was kind of like an exploding comet....so was Janis. So was Jim Morrison.

D.P.: Here and gone. With the passing of those three it was kind of  like the end of that whole era, don't you think?

J.C.: It was. You know I was sittin' in the Speakeasy, I was looking at Jimi, he was sittin' in the corner...and he had this whole persona, I mean the hair was shorter, there were changes happening.

S.W.: Basically the sixties were finished I suppose. We (the musicians) were just going along with social changes that were going on, and Hendrix in his way was. That's the big thing about the sixties...big social change was going on and somehow music became the figure head, the vanguard for all the social change. There were changes going on in music and it became the symbol for the whole social upheaval. And you know, we said "Yeah great, we'll have some of that", but we were just developing music and I think Jimi was too, but I think there was  something more with Jimi, perhaps, being a Black American, there was a lot of social change going on in America which perhaps he couldn't have done what he did in England in America, so he went to England to actually use that social change. But to me, that was just the side really, even for him because it was a big musical development that he was making, but to me, that was his main thing. Just because I'm a musician, I'm not trying to say that music is any more important than anything else, but for me that was the important thing. And, I suspect, to a certain extent, to him, that was his main vision. But also he saw how it hooked up with the whole social change that was going on so he went along with it and he knew how to control it, you know. He knew how to handle it as well I think.

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