Jimi Hendrix Became Chas Chandler’s Next Project, The Animals’ John Steel Recalls

After the crumbling of the Animals following several lineup changes, Chas Chandler was on the hunt for a new venture: spotting new talents. During a recent conversation with Goldmine, his former bandmate John Steel shared how Chandler discovered Jimi Hendrix and ended up being the producer and manager of the late guitarist.

Jimi had moved to New York and played in coffeehouses when bassist Chas Chandler heard him. After seeing what Hendrix could bring to the industry, Chandler decided to manage Hendrix and brought him to London, where they formed the Jimi Hendrix Experience with bassist Noel Redding and drummer Mitch Mitchell.

That was the start of a wild career for Hendrix, but Chandler deserves some credit for turning the guy who sang in coffee shops into a legendary musician who is still respected in the industry today. Steel had the chance to listen closely to the story of Jimi’s becoming a famous star as he spent time with Chandler while working together after their time in the Animals.

John Steel’s words about Chas Chandler discovering Jimi Hendrix:

“Yeah, I was, but I wasn’t there at that point. I mean, I knew the Animals weren’t going to last long anyway after I had left as Chas just felt it started to disintegrate anyway, and Alan [Price] had already left before me [in 1965]. When it did break up, I did some work for Chas from the late 1960s and into the 1970s on the business side of things when he was managing Slade.

It was then that he told me the story of how he discovered Hendrix. He told me that some girlfriend of his in New York had told him that he needed to see this fellow. So, she took him down to the club, and it was the Cafe Wha?, and it was Jimi Hendrix. And he immediately became Chas’ next project. He went seamlessly from being the Animals’ bass player to being a record producer and manager of Jimi Hendrix. It was a nice move!”

The music industry isn’t as vast as it seems from the outside. Like in Jimi Hendrix’s case, you never know when luck will strike, and you’ll be discovered and become the next big artist in the scene. So it’s about Chas Chandler having the eye and the ear to discover such a musician whom everyone would want to emulate.