Noel David Redding (25 December 1945 – 11 May 2003) was an English rock musician, best known as the bass player and occasional lead singer for the Jimi Hendrix Experience and guitarist/singer for Fat Mattress.
Following his departure from the Experience in 1969 and split of Fat Mattress in 1970, Redding formed the short lived Road in the United States who released one eponymous album before he re-located to Clonakilty, Ireland, in 1972. There he formed the Noel Redding Band with former Thin Lizzy guitarist Eric Bell with whom he released two albums. Although by the 1980s Redding had largely removed himself from the music business, he would later perform around his new hometown with wife Carol Appleby.
Redding was born at Royal Victoria Hospital in Folkestone, Kent to Bromley-born Margaret (née Berggren) and Horace Albert Redding. He grew up on Cliff Road, Seabrook where his mother ran a guest house, with his mother, his Swedish-born grandmother, brother Anthony and sister Vicki. He attended St Leonards Primary in Hythe and Harvey Grammar School in Folkestone. At age nine, he played violin at school and then mandolin and guitar. His first public appearances were at the Hythe Youth Club then at his school.
His first local bands, in which he played lead guitar, were:
- The Strangers: with John “Andy” Andrews (bass)
- The Lonely Ones: 1961 – John Andrews (bass), Bob Hiscocks (rhythm guitar), Mick Wibley (drums), Pete Kircher (vocals and in ’62, drums). The Lonely Ones made a privately pressed EP at the Hayton Manor Studio in Stanford, Kent, in 1963, with Derek Knight on vocals, Trevor Sutton on drums, Noel Redding on lead guitar and John Andrews on bass. First recordings: “Some Other Guy”; “Money”; “Talking About You”; “Anna”.
- The Loving Kind: 1966 with Pete (Kircher) Carter (drums); Jim Leverton (bass); and Derek Knight (vocals).
At 17 Redding went professional and toured clubs in Scotland and Germany with Neil Landon and the Burnettes (formed in late 1962) and The Loving Kind (formed in November 1965). In addition, The Lonely Ones reunited in September 1964, and Redding remained with them a year before taking his leave.
Jimi Hendrix Experience
Redding switched from guitar to bass on joining the Jimi Hendrix Experience. He was the first person to join the Experience. With the band, he helped create the three landmark albums Are You Experienced, Axis: Bold as Love, and Electric Ladyland, as well as performing in some of Hendrix’s most celebrated concerts. His playing style was distinguished by the use of a pick, a mid-range “trebly” sound, and in later years the use of fuzz and distortion effects through overdriven Sunn amps. His role in the band was that of a time-keeper. This was evident in the Experience’s version of “Come On (Baby Let the Good Times Roll)” and “Drivin’ South” from the BBC Sessions. He would typically lay down a bass groove over which Hendrix and drummer Mitch Mitchell would loosely play. Redding wrote and sang lead on two album tracks, “Little Miss Strange” and “She’s So Fine.” He played the bass line on “Red House” using the bass strings on a normal six-string guitar.
In 1968, Redding formed the group Fat Mattress with another Kent musician, Neil Landon (born as Patrick Cahill, 27 July 1941, Kirdford, Sussex), on vocals. The band also included Jim Leverton (born 1946, Dover, Kent) on bass and keyboards and Eric Dillon (born 1950, Swindon) on drums. Redding played guitar and vocals, and a key part of the Fat Mattress sound was the vocal harmonies between him, Landon and Leverton. The band initially toured in support of the Jimi Hendrix Experience, requiring Redding to play two full sets each night. He left Fat Mattress after only one album with them, though some of his compositions would appear on their second album.
Hendrix’s manager, Michael Jeffery, attempted to reunite the Jimi Hendrix Experience months after the Woodstock event. The three were interviewed by Rolling Stone magazine, but no shows or recordings resulted. Redding soon went on to other projects. While living in Los Angeles he formed Road, a three-piece in the same psychedelic hard rock vein as the Experience, with Rod Richards (born as Rod Cox; ex Rare Earth) on guitar and Les Sampson on drums, and Redding himself switching back to bass. They released one album, Road (1972), with the three members taking turns on lead vocals.
Noel Redding moved to Ireland in 1972. He formed The Noel Redding Band with Eric Bell from Thin Lizzy, Dave Clarke, Les Sampson, and Robbie Walsh. Despite the band’s name, Redding shared songwriting and lead vocal duties equally with Clarke. They released two albums for RCA, three tours of the Netherlands, two tours of England, one tour of Ireland, and a 10-week tour in the US. The band dissolved after a dispute with their management company. Tracks recorded for a third unreleased album were later released as The Missing Album on Mouse Records.
In his book Are You Experienced?, co-authored with his long term wife Carol Appleby, he spoke openly about his disappointment in his being cut off from the profits of the continued sale of the Hendrix recordings. He signed away his royalties in 1974 and in 1980 sold the bass guitar he used with the Experience to a collector. Redding had received $100,000 as a one-off payment after he had been told that there would be no more releases of Jimi Hendrix Experience material. This was before the advent of CDs and DVDs.
In 1990, Redding and Appelby were involved in a car crash returning home from a concert in Glounthaune. Appelby was left brain dead by the accident, with Redding later stating that “she was in intensive care on life support and after four days I had to make the terrible decision of shutting down the machine”. They had been together for seventeen years and, just two days prior to the accident, Appelby had finished helping Redding co-write his autobiography.
In 1997, Fender produced the Jazz Noel Redding Signature jazz bass, in a signed limited edition of 1000. Premiered at the NAMM Show in January 1997, the bass was based on the 1964 Jazz bass which Redding used throughout his time with the Experience. Redding tracked down the person who he had sold the bass too some years prior, who agreed to allow Fender to inspect it. Redding stating that “Fender got the original bass from him, copied it, and sent me a prototype, and it was exactly the same as my original bass; they did a brilliant job”.
After meeting San Francisco musician and songwriter Keith Dion in London during the awarding of an English Heritage Blue Plaque Award in 1997, Noel performed several tours across the United States with Dion’s band “3:05 AM”. Recordings from these tours were released on the UK and European releases “West Cork Tuning” and “Stone Free”. Video footage from these tours were shown in May 2014 during the now annual Noel Redding Tribute Festival held in Clonakilty each year. Positive feedback was also received from the Irish Cultural Minister and the head of the Irish Film Board.
In 2002, a live album “Live From Bunkr, Prague” was released. Predominantly made up of Experience material, the concert was recorded in 1995 in the Czech Republic with guitarist and singer Anthony Krizan of the Spin Doctors, rhythm guitarist Ivan Kral of the Patti Smith Group and drummer Frankie LaRocka. The band rehearsed for a mere 45 minutes before performing. Vaclav Havel, the then President of the Czech Republic watched from the side of the stage
Redding’s last performance was in Clonakilty at De Barras pub, where he had held the Friday night residency for nearly 20 years, performing with some of the local musicians who appeared on his last album “Thanks You, Goodnight and Good Luck” including Steve Pawsey, Jeff Ward, Jim O’Neil, Eric Bell and Les Sampson.
Redding was found dead in his home in Clonakilty on 11 May 2003, three weeks after the death of his mother. A post mortem was carried out on 13 May at Cork University Hospital in Wilton, Cork. The report concluded that Redding died from “shock haemorrhage due to oesophageal varices in reaction to cirrhosis of the liver”. He was 57 years old and survived by a brother and sister, and a son, Nicolas Noel Redding, by his former Danish-born wife Susanne.
In the village of Ardfield, local people erected a plaque to his memory. His then partner, the US born Deborah McNaughton had returned to America where she died from breast cancer nine months after Redding’s death.
Three months prior to his death, Redding had threatened to sue Experience Hendrix, LLC, the company that manages the Hendrix catalogue, for £3.26 million in lost earnings. The estate rejected his claim and went on to release a posthumous compilation album entitled The Experience Sessions in 2004. Along with unreleased takes of Redding-penned Experience album tracks “She’s So Fine” and “Little Miss Strange”, the album contained unreleased songs recorded by The Jimi Hendrix Experience which Redding had written whilst with the band. Most of the tracks are outtakes from the Axis: Bold As Love and Electric Ladyland albums, and feature Redding on guitar with Hendrix on bass. It also featured a live version of Hendrix’s “Red House” with Redding on rhythm guitar. Notably the album features the song “Dream”, but omits the other Redding-penned song “Dance” which was recorded during the same session which Hendrix participated on bass. Written by Redding for drummer Mitch Mitchell to sing, Hendrix would later take Redding’s guitar riff and use it for his own song “Ezy Rider”, which was first released on the posthumous album The Cry of Love.
A town square in Redding’s hometown of Folkestone was renamed “Noel’s Yard” as a memorial, described as being “a public ‘Theatre in a Square’ which promotes commerce, the arts, entertainment, as well as the best of British seaside living within a vibrant and safe creative community”.
In 2013, an art exhibition was opened to mark the 10th anniversary of Redding’s death. It was opened by his brother Anthony.
- With The Loving Kind
- “Accidental Love”/”Nothing Can Change This Love” (Piccadilly 7N 35299) 1966.
- “Love The Things You Do”/”Treat Me Nice” (Piccadilly 7N 35318) 1966.
- “Ain’t That Peculiar”/”With Rhyme And Reason” (Piccadilly 7N 35342) 1966.
- With The Jimi Hendrix Experience
- Are You Experienced (1967) Polydor.
- Axis: Bold as Love (1967) Track.
- Electric Ladyland (1968) Track.
- Smash Hits (1968) Track.
- Radio One (1989) Castle Communications.
- BBC Sessions (1998) MCA.
- The Experience Sessions (2004) Image Entertainment.
- Valleys of Neptune (2010) Sony Legacy.
- With Fat Mattress
- Fat Mattress (1969) Polydor.
- Fat Mattress II (1970) Polydor.
- “Naturally”/”Iridescent Butterfly” (Polydor 56352) 1969.
- “Magic Lanterns”/”Bright New Way” (Polydor 56367) 1969.
- “Highway”/”Black Sheep Of The Family” (Polydor 2058 053) 1970. (Does not perform on either track, but co-wrote the a-side)
- With Road
- Road (1972) Natural Resources (a division of Motown); not to be confused with another band named The Road that had 2 LPs on Kama Sutra
- with Randy California
- Kapt. Kopter and the (Fabulous) Twirly Birds (1972) Epic; appears pseudonymously on three tracks.
- With Noel Redding Band (aka The Clonakilty Cowboys)
- Clonakilty Cowboys (1975) RCA.
- Blowin’ (1976) RCA.
- The Missing Album (1995) Griffin.
- “Roller Coaster Kids”/”Snowstorm” (RCA 2662).
- “Take It Easy”/”Back On The Road Again” (RCA PB 9026).
- With Lord Sutch and Heavy Friends
- Lord Sutch and Heavy Friends (1970) Atlantic.
- With British Invasion All-Stars
- British Invasion All-Stars (2001) Mooreland Street.
- With 305 AM and Keith Dion
- West Cork Tuning (2001) Almafame.
- West Coast Experience (2002) Prism Leisure
- Stone Free (2003) Dressed to Kill
- On Tour with 305 AM (2003) Brilliant
- West Cork Tuning Deluxe Edition (2003) Snapper
- With Noel Redding and Friends
- Live From Bunkr . Prague (2002) Track Record.
- Thank You, Goodnight and Gud’ Luck (2009) Irenikon.com/Bluestone.
- With Yardbirds Experience
- Family Tree: Birds Of A Feather (2006) Mooreland Street.