Jimi Hendrix's drummer, Mitch Mitchell, found dead at Portland hotel
by Joseph Rose and Stuart Tomlinson,The Oregonian
Wednesday November 12, 2008, 12:50 PM
Ross William Hamilton/The OregonianDrummer Mitch Mitchell playing at the Roseland Theater in a Jimi Hendrix tribute concert in February 2004
Mitch Mitchell, the hall-of-fame drummer for the Jimi Hendrix Experience, widely considered the legendary Seattle guitarist's most important musical collaborator, was found dead this morning in his Portland hotel room.
Mitchell, 61, who played with Hendrix at the 1969 Woodstock Music Festival and helped shape such songs as "Voodoo Child" and "Purple Haze," apparently died of natural causes, the Multnomah County Medical Examiner said. Mitchell was found dead at appoximately 3 a.m. in his room at the Benson Hotel in downtown Portland.
Mitch Mitchell, from his Myspace page
Sgt. Brian Schmautz, a Portland police spokesman, said an employee at the upscale hotel called police after discovering Mitchell's body. "It was natural causes," Schmautz said, "so we weren't involved beyond that."
Calls to the Benson for further information have not been returned.
An examination to determine an exact cause of death is scheduled for later this afternoon, officials said.
Mitchell was touring with the Experience Hendrix Tour, which appeared on Nov. 7 at the Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall, the last stop on a West Coast portion of the tour.
Mitchell pioneered a lead style of drumming which would later become known as fusion, allowing him and Hendrix to feed off each other in concert. The pair also recorded several tracks on their own before bringing in bassist Noel Redding to finish the songs. Redding died at the age of 57 in 2003. Hendrix died after a drug overdose in 1970.
Mitchell was inducted into the Rock 'n' Roll Hall of Fame as part of the Jimi Hendrix Experience in 1993. According to Eddie Kramer's book "Hendrix: Setting the Record Straight," Hendrix's manager relegated both Mitchell and Redding to the status of paid employees. They had limited ownership in future revenues and song rights. In the 1970's, according to the book, Mitchell was forced to sell a prized Hendrix guitar. Later, he reportedly sold his small legal claim to future Hendrix record sales for about $200,000.
--Joseph Rose and Stuart Tomlinson; email@example.com
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