While Jimi Hendrix is doubtlessly best remembered for his guitar-playing skills, his full recorded output is still looked on as the stuff of musical legend. But as engineer and producer Eddie Kramer has recalled, he was famously shy about his voice, and would often ask for it to be turned down in his songs’ mixes.
Kramer, appearing on an episode of The Eddie Trunk Podcast, was asked if there was anything he could tell the audience about Hendrix, given how he worked as an engineer on three of The Jimi Hendrix Experience’s albums. “Jimi certainly grabbed your attention because he was one of a kind,” he replied. “And I don’t think we’ll see the likes of that again for who knows how long.
“But he was very unique in the sense that his voice expressed ideas, shapes, and sounds very much like his guitar playing. If one listens to him sing, and he was a song stylist, he wasn’t a great singer, but he was a song stylist.
“And the way he utilised his range was absolutely genius because it fits precisely with what the rhythm section was doing, how loud he was playing, the intricacy of the lines…
“He wanted his voice buried in the track, that’s the issue,” Kramer explained. “I don’t think many people know about that – he just hated his voice, he thought he had the worst voice in the world.
Kramer then explained how, especially on The Jimi Hendrix Experience’s 1967 debut Are You Experienced, it would be a battle between producer Chas Chandler and Hendrix as to the level of the vocals. “So here I am, I’m sitting in the middle between Chas on my right and Jimi on my left. Jimi’s whispering in my ear, ‘put it down, put it down,’ and Chas is saying I’m not pushing it up enough.”
Between all of this, Kramer explained that he had to “find that compromise between the two worlds. I thought he had a great voice, quite frankly, I thought it was expressive and a delight. And that’s what I think fans should look at.”