In a new Vulture Interview the lead singer of the Strokes, who is now ready to release his second album with the group The Voids, seems lacking in music history.
Casablancas, who is known for mumbling during interviews being quite liberal when it comes to pregnant pausing and mumbling during his interviews, said this about Hendrix, “People don’t realize that it took years for him to get the acclaim that he has now, You look at the charts back then and he was at No. 300. He didn’t have hits.”
At that point the interviewer countered with the fact that Hendrix was actually quite popular in his lifetime to which Casablancas answered, “No, you’re seeing it through the rear-view mirror,” From what I’ve seen I thought he never had any commercial success.”
The interviewer then reminded Casablancas that Hendrix closed Woodstock…he headlined the most famous music festival of all time. At that point the singer just responds, “Okay.”
Lets look at the numbers. Hendrix moved to England in 1966. He’s originally from Seattle. He died on September 18, 1970. Let’s look at the music from 66-70. We’re not going to look at his position as a backing musician laying with The Isley Brothers or Little Richard. His first success came from England where he had 5 Top 40 hits, “Hey Joe” with “Stone Free” reaching #6, “Purple Haze” was his biggest hit there peaking at #3, Then “The Wind Cries Mary” hit #6, “Burning Of the Midnight Lamp #18, “All Along the Watchtower” #5, and “Crosstown Traffic/Gypsy Eyes” peaked at #37. He did only have one Top 40 hits in the U.S. and that was “All Along the Watchtower” reaching #20 in 1968. So that could be what he’s focusing on.
The Hendrix albums did very well. “Are You Experienced” released in 1967 was certainly a soundtrack for the “Summer of Love” that year. It peaked at #5 in the U.S. and #2 in the U.K.
“Axis: Bold as Love” released in the latter part of 67 hit #3 in the U.S. and #5 in the U.K. The following year there was the U.S. #1 album “Electric Ladyland” ..It peaked at #6 in the U.K. All three live albums were also huge hits.
To Casablancas defense everyone has holes in their musical knowledge sometimes even the artists themselves about their actual story. When I do interviews Its important to check a musicians memory. Just because they tell you that their debut album was released in 1977…I still check. Everyone’s memory can get wonky. Then there’s ignorance. When Elvis died in August 1977 I was 17 years old. While walking through the kitchen I noticed my moved had this stunned look on her face, then she told me that Elvis was gone. I said, “who cares.” That was ignorant and mean spirited. You don’t get called the “King of Rock and Roll” for nothing. One has to be careful on being flippant on the big guns.
Hendrix was one of the greatest musicians who ever walked this earth. Casablancas was being flippant. Some younger musicians stop maturing emotionally once they become famous. Casablancas is 39 but he was only 23 when The Strokes were riding the success their first album “Is This It.” Their next three albums peaked at #4 in the U.S.. The strokes have had 12 singles non have become Top 40 hits but then again that’s not their things. The group have scored 12 hits on the U.S. Alt charts. Their album sales have been on a steady decline since the debut. The group have not released an album since “Comedown Machine” in 2013. It did not sell well. Casablanca’s side project The Voidz will release their second “Virtue” on March 30th. – by John Beaudin
John Beaudin has been in major market radio (Edmonton, Vancouver & Calgary) for 35 years and a music journalist since 1989. He graduated from Broadcasting school as a news man so he would have the skills to write about the artists that inspired him since he bought his first album, “Madman Across The Water” by Elton John as a teen. In the 80’s Beaudin was the host of the syndicated radio show “The Cross Canada Report” which had two version (Rock and A/C). Beaudin was also asked to be a judge at the Juno Awards (Canada’s answer to the Grammys) Twice. He has anchored every position in radio including morning and afternoon drive and was a Program and Music Director for The Breeze and California 103 in Calgary. He currently hosts the popular Lovesongs at QM-FM in Vancouver and on iHeartRadio.
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