October 23, 2009

Jimi_and_LittleRichard_R_c81bb.jpg

(Little Richard, with Jimi Hendrix in the foreground - yes, but it was brief)

By the time Little Richard made his way over to Vee-Jay Records (after leaving Specialty, the label with all his hits), Vee-Jay was teetering on the edge of bankruptcy. True, they were the first American label to issue a Beatles album, and they rang up a string of hits with other artists such as Betty Everett, John Lee Hooker, Jimmy Reed and a ton of others. Bad management, shaky financial footing and some errors in judgment finally forced the label into receivership in late 1965, pretty much putting an end to Vee-Jay as a force in the music business and leaving a number of artists without a label.

But before it came to a crashing halt, Little Richard managed to do two sessions in 1964. One session was a greatest hits rehash of his earlier Specialty material. But the second session featured new material including this track I Don't Know What You've Got, featuring a then-unknown Jimi Hendrix on guitar, during a brief tenure with the band.

Sadly, this track hardly made a dent in the charts when it was issued in 1965. Richard would head off to another label shortly after and Hendrix would head off to England and start another chapter in rock n' roll history.

It does make you wonder what would have happened if history had turned out different.

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