Billy Cox is a crucial member of the Experience Hendrix touring team.
He is, after all, the musician with the most experience with Jimi Hendrix.
The bassist and West Virginia native is the lone surviving members of late guitar icon's three bands, having replaced Noel Redding in the Jimi Hendrix Experience and also been part of the Band of Gypsys and Cry Of Love ensemble, as well as the short-lived Gypsy Sun and Rainbows that backed Hendrix at the inaugural Woodstock festival in 1969. His presence gives the Experience Hendrix tour's all-star lineup an extra shot of authenticity, and it's a role the 76-year-old Cox does not take lightly.
"I don't think about it all the them, but every now and then when I do I feel that I do have a responsibility," Cox says by phone from a tour stop in San Antonio. "I have a responsibility to play the music right. And sometimes people ask me about Jimi and I always try and have a positive answer for them so they can feel like they know him a little better."
Among those Cox counsels are the various guitar players who take part in the Experience Hendrix tour, this year including the likes of Buddy Guy, Kenny Wayne Shepherd, Jonny Lang, Dweezil Zappa, Zakk Wylde, Eric Johnson and Ana Popovic, among others. "All of the musicians are of one accord, which is very important for this type of tour," Cox notes. "All the musicians leave their egos at home, and we have fun. All of them are bringing their own playing and all of them approach Jimi a tad differently, but the soul of the music and the spirit of the music is still the same.
"And the people react to them. We're packed and jammed every night, and it appears that the Jimi Hendrix fans cannot get enough of Jimi Hendrix."
That, Cox adds, is because Hendrix's music -- including hits such as "Purple Haze," "Foxy Lady," "Voodoo Chile (Slight Return)" and his definitive version of Bob Dylan's "All Along the Watchtower," among others -- have stood the test of time since his death in 1970 at the age of 27.
"It doesn't get old," Cox says. "It gets newer and newer and fresher. Jimi wrote in the now; he kept growing and getting to another level wtih his music, so it's jsut as relevant in the 21st century as it was in the 20th century.
"And God knows where he would be if he lived today."
Experience Hendrix Tour featuring Buddy Guy, Zakk Wylde, Jonny Lang, Kenny Wayne Shepherd, Eric Johnson, Dweezil Zappa and more
7:30 p.m. Friday, March 11.
Fox Theatre, 2211 Woodward Ave., Detroit.
Tickets are $25-$85.
Call 313-471-6611 or visit olympiaentertainment.com.
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