Already a big fan of the Jimi Hendrix Experience, Downing managed to find his way to the trio’s dressing room caravan on the British island. In a new interview on BBC Radio 2’s Rock Show with Johnnie Walker, he shared his pride over recovering souvenirs from the adventure.
“I first saw Jimi at Coventry Theatre way back in 1967 – and what an amazing night that was,” Downing said. “I was lucky enough to see Jimi no less than six times, including his two appearances at the Royal Albert Hall [in 1969]. And yes, I was out there, at the stage door, autograph-hunting. I was really lucky: Jimi arrived, and I managed to get his autograph, which was a real treat.”
He continued: “I absolutely must tell the story about the Isle Of Wight festival where Jimi was performing. Myself and a friend cunningly worked our way back to the dressing room area, which was outside, but Jimi, Noel [Redding] and Mitch [Mitchell] were in a caravan that they were using for a dressing room. And me and my friend, we hinged the window up, and there they were: the three of the Experience around a table with a couple of ladies… We managed to get a drumstick from Mitch and a Coke bottle that Jimi had just finished drinking a beverage from. And that was a real highlight of my whole life.”
Downing described Hendrix as an artist who “could absolutely stir any audience up into a complete frenzy,” adding: “They would jump from the balconies, and they would rush the stage. And I know – because I was one of those fans that did just that.”