Sad news, folks. According to billboard.com, Mitch Mitchell was found dead at the age of 62 (or 61, depending on the source) in his Portland, Oregon hotel room yesterday morning from what appeared to be natural causes. Mitchell—best known as the drummer for the Jimi Hendrix Experience—was in town as part of the Experience Hendrix tour with former Band of Gypsys bassist Billy Cox. With Experience bassist Noel Redding’s death in 2003 and Hendrix’s overdose in 1970, the band that defined, if not invented, psychedelic rock is no more.
There is little doubt that Mitchell’s work with Hendrix between 1966 and 1969 transformed him into one of the most mimicked stickmen in rock ’n’ roll. With the Experience, Mitchell’s fluid, jazz-inflected style made the most of what little room Hendrix’s explosive guitar left him—creating shuffling grooves where none existed before (see “Crosstown Traffic” and the haunting “The Wind Cries Mary”). While folks may blame him for sowing the seeds of fusion’s wankier moments, it was precisely his own band’s mix of styles—Mitchell and Redding’s antsy mod beats combined with Hendrix’s soulful blues—that made the Experience such a transformative player in the 60s.
Needless to say, Mitchell will be missed.