Sound Advice: Hendrix LP has complicated history

By  Tim Neely

Question: I have an LP called Woke Up This Morning And Found Myself Dead. It’s a recording that came about from the Scene Club in 1968 that featured Jimi Hendrix along with Jim Morrison, Johnny Winter and Buddy Miles. I understand it has been bootlegged, but I have it on the Red Lightnin’ label. What more can you tell me about this record, including a value?

— Sam Zuckerman. Little Neck, New York

Answer: As with many posthumous Jimi Hendrix releases, especially those not recorded in a studio during his 1967-1970 hit-making days, this has a convoluted history on record and CD.

The Scene Club performance is one of Hendrix’s most notorious. It took place on either March 7 or March 18, 1968 (sources differ), in New York City. The 50 minutes preserved on tape was a mix of blues and rock, including a version of The Beatles’ “Tomorrow Never Knows,” and was punctuated by a drunken Jim Morrison of The Doors shouting obscenities, making odd noises and otherwise being an ass. He finally fell and knocked over a microphone stand, which marked the end of his evening.

There is much dispute over who actually played behind Hendrix that night. The drummer was said to be Buddy Miles, but it’s also possible that the drummer was Randy Zehringer of The McCoys, brother of Rick Zehringer (i.e., Derringer). As for Johnny Winter’s involvement, Winter himself claims he wasn’t there that night.

Woke Up This Morning And Found Myself Dead, the first “legitimate” release of the complete Scene Club jam session, was issued in 1980 in England on the Red Lightnin’ label (RL 0015). The original cover has an avant-garde design, with a Gothic window at the left and a distorted image of Hendrix and his guitar at the right, with the title and artist scrawled in red lettering in the background. Several years later, the Red Lightnin’ label issued the same album as a picture disc (RL 0048) with different graphics.

This recording seems to have a different legal status in Europe and Asia than it does in the United States. The complete tape has never been legitimately issued in America, but it’s appeared under different titles on countless LPs and CDs since 1980, all of which originate from countries outside the Western Hemisphere. Bleeding Heart was the title used by Castle Communications (UK) when it issued the Scene jam session in 1994 (MAC CD 190). Sometimes, this jam is mixed with other Hendrix-related material on the same CD. And some of these CDs have been imported to the States, where they sometimes appear in budget bins with special-markets material. To put it bluntly, it’s a mess.

As for the value of the original LP, the prices I saw were all over the place. A good median figure seems to be $25-$40 in near-mint condition.

Question: I have a vinyl copy of Strange Days by the Doors. The album cover lists it as being stereo, but the record is mono and is on the old brown Elektra label. Was that a common occurrence?

— Scot Buley via e-mail

Answer: While I won’t go so far as to say that it was common, it wasn’t unusual, in the later days of mono records, for mono records to appear inside stereo covers.

By the end of 1967, when Strange Days hit the market, both mono and stereo LPs had the same list price. At one time, stereo records cost a dollar more than the same album in mono. When record labels raised the mono price to match the stereo price, that was the beginning of the end of dual releases. By the end of 1968, almost no one was releasing albums in both mono and stereo in the United States.

Thus, in the last couple years of simultaneous mono and stereo albums, it is not unheard-of to find a mono album in a cover labeled stereo, or — definitely more likely — a stereo album in a cover labeled mono. The latter is more common because labels sometimes over-pressed mono covers based on prior demand. Rather than junk the unused mono covers, the labels simply put a “STEREO” sticker on them.

The opposite, as in your case, was less common. These can be difficult to put a value on, as many collectors want the mono record with the mono sleeve. But, as many late 1967 and 1968 mono LP records are extremely rare, for other collectors it doesn’t matter, as long as the album cover is otherwise the proper one

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