Mitch Mitchell: In Memoriam
Given the way the Experience turned out, Mitchell was the better choice. Dunbar was certainly technically capable of doing what Mitchell did, and may have taken Hendrix' music in a different direction, but Mitchell responded to everything that Hendrix through at him. He was a masterful drummer, using explosive fills (more controlled than Keith Moon, and also more studied, as Mitchell was grounded in jazz) and his drumming always fit Hendrix songs. On the first album alone, "Purple Haze," "Fire," and "Third Stone from the Sun" among others, would have sounded radically different with any other drummer. "Manic Depression" is a tour de force, easily ranking (and, in my opinion, outdistancing) virtually any song accompaniment of the '60's, with the possible exception of Keith Moon on "I Can See for Miles". Other examples from later albums would be "Up From the Skies," the perfect accents and fills on "Spanish Castle Magic" and even "You Got Me Floating". Mitchell had great ears, fast reflexes and always seemed to know what Hendrix was thinking, as can be heard on "Voodoo Child (Slight Return)" (which really became free jazz drumming) and "All Along the Watchtower."