All of the musicians who are part of the all-star Experience Hendrix tour have some connection to the late guitar great.
But Dweezil Zappa's is so personal it`s part of his DNA.
His father, Frank Zappa, and Jimi Hendrix were friends, and the younger Zappa says he "heard a couple of things" about Hendrix from his dad over the years. "There's one really cool piece of film footage we have where my dad was playing at the Royal Albert Hall in London in 1968, or something like that," Zappa recalls. "It's during the afternoon sound check and my dad walks off the stage to greet Jimi, who's been in the audience listening.
"They sort of meet and confer down in front of the stage. There's no audio, but you can see them laughing at something. It's such a pivotal time in the world of rock music, and there are these two movers just talking like good buddies."
Zappa also inherited one of the Fender Stratocasters that Hendrix gave to his father, which he lit on fire during a performance in London and which Zappa pulls out for special shows, like Experience Hendrix's recent stop in Los Angeles.
But the best part of being part of the tour, he adds, is getting to play Hendrix's classic repertoire. "There's always some underlying current of intrigue for me with Jimi's music," explains Zappa, 44, who's playing Hendrix's "Freedom" and "Ezy Ryder" on the tour and also preserves his father's music via his regular group, Zappa Plays Zappa. "I sort of apply the same approach that I do with my dad's music to the stuff with Jimi. I'll learn what Jimi played note-for-note and try to get the sounds as close to the records as possible. I look at it as an archaeological dig
"That's not necessarily the way the overall approach of the tour is. The way most people are playing the songs are as some interpretation and adding their own thing to it. That's OK, but I try to catch all of his nuances because part of the appeal and challenge to play the stuff is to play it really as he played it."
This year's Experience Hendrix tour coincides with the United States Postal Service's issue of a Hendrix commemorative stamp, while the family-owned Experience Hendrix label will be releasing a limited edition vinyl edition of his "Live at Monterey" album for Record Store Day on April 19.
The Experience Hendrix Tour with Billy Cox, Buddy Guy, Dweezil Zappa, Johnny Lang, Aerosmith's Brad Whitford, Bootsy Collins, Eric Johnson, Kenny Wayne Shepherd and more plays at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, April 3, at the Fox Theatre, 2211 Woodward Ave., Detroit. Tickets are $25-$85. Call 313-471-6611 or visit www.olympiaentertainment.com.
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