For skinny white guys like myself, Mitch Mitchell – who was found dead today in his Portland, Oregon, hotel room – provided hope that we could one day too sound like something approaching Elvin Jones.
Even next to the perpetually emaciated-looking Jimi Hendrix Mitchell looked slight, but what a sound he produced. He was to Hendrix what Keith Moon was to Pete Townshend, but unlike Moon Mitchell seemed to be in complete control at all times. In fact, he may have been the most in-control rocker of the time – perhaps just as well given Hendrix's manic nature and bassist Noel Redding's chip-on-his-shoulder edge. Without Mitchell's calming influence the Experience may not have lasted to see 1968.
The fact remains that Mitchell was the only musician who recorded – officially – with Hendrix who could hold a candle to him musically, but unfortunately he seemed completely without direction or ambition after the guitarist's death.
A sadder death than some, then. At 62, he should have still been in his prime instead of a somewhat-forgotten figure deep within Hendrix's lengthy shadow.
Sing on, brother. Play on, drummer.