According to Ed Chalpin of PPX Enterprises, Inc. Jimi played on two tracks featuring Jayne Mansfield on vocals, "As The Clouds Drift By" and "Suey". There is however some doubt as there's no recognizable playing by Jimi audible anywhere on the recordings and apart from Chalpin himself no-one has ever come forward with any evidence of Jimi participating in the recording session(s), nor has Chalpin ever (re)released the tracks on any audio format after 1967. What follows here is all of the information that I have about these recordings, my comments and a long list of questions. I hope that there are people out there with at least some of the answers...
The 1967 single release
The launch of Ed Chalpin's Chalco Records and the issue of "Suey" as the label's first release was reported in the Billboard issue of 1 October 1966 4 but the announced release on Chalpin's own label never came out nor did Chalco Records ever happen (the name "Chalco" was probably a combination of "Chalpin" and "Jocko", the composers of "Suey").
Jayne Mansfield died 29th of June 1967, some eight months after the Billboard news item about the supposed release of "Suey". A letter 8 from UK Decca to Chalpin confirming the leasing of the recordings "for the United Kingdom and Eire and the Continent of Europe" dated 30th of June 1967 proves that negotiations to release the recordings had been underway well before Jayne's passing - though Decca sending the confirmation the day after her death is a very odd co-incidence. The advance for the single from Decca was $500.8 The UK 45 on Decca's subsidiary London label came out on the 21st of July 1967 with further London issues in Italy, Belgium, France & Germany probably released around the same time.
The Hendrix fanzine Straight Ahead 1 was the first publication to report on the existence of Jayne Mansfield & Jimi Hendrix -recordings in July 1990 after a copy of a promotional UK London 45 release of the tracks was discovered with a PPX credit on the label.
When Steven Roby interviewed Ed Chalpin about the recordings he asked "How did you get that information anyway?" and added that "I didn't give them permission to use his name". It seems that the first time that Chalpin ever publicly made the claim that Jimi was on the record was during this interview. Chalpin also said the recordings "didn't get released because she died shortly after (in a car accident)."
Roby didn't tell Chalpin in advance that he was going to talk about the Mansfield single 7. That adds some credibility to Chalpin's answers to Roby's questions but what Chalpin didn't say is that he had in the past tried to get the tracks released with the help of mentioning Jimi's involvement. "Suey" was offered to the men's magazines Penthouse, Gallery & High Society in 1984 by Brian Graifman of PPX, in letters dated 11 April 1984 (accompanied by a cassette of the track): "Jimi Hendrix...is playing as a session musician on this title. This is a fact and easily substantiated, but we cannot represent it as such due to our subsequent settlements....where we were granted a certain number of albums for licensing."9 So Chalpin may have been surprised by Roby's question but the answers he gave were not spontaneous as he had been trying to licence the tracks using Jimi's name a few years earlier.
Chalpin's claim that he "didn't give them permission to use his name" (apparently referring to the 1967 European London 45 releases) is a tricky one. Chalpin wasn't necessary legally in a position to allow or disallow the use of Jimi's name in June 1967. He had started proceedings to establish the legality of his contract on the 22th of May 1967 14 but would Chalpin have risked possible damages by releasing his own records with Jimi's name on them before the court proceedings were over? Or was he looking to do just that as he believed that he had a binding contract and had every right to release Jimi Hendrix records and wanted to prove a point? Jimi recorded further sessions at Chalpin's Studio 76 in July & August 1967 and Jimi's own UK label Track Records released the PPX Curtis Knight & Jimi Hendrix 45 "How Would You Feel" in August 1967 11 as if to validate Jimi's contract. All quite confusing.
The comment that the single "didn't get released because she died shortly after (in a car accident)" can be interpreted in two ways. If Chalpin meant that the record was never released anywhere because of Jayne Mansfield's death then that isn't true - the single came out in at least 5 European countries right after Jayne's passing so her death definitely didn't prevent it's release, probably quite the opposite.
But if what Chalpin is talking about here is an US release what he says might be a fact, the lack of a 1967 US release could be down to Mansfield's passing. A memorial disc would have sold well so there must have been contractual problems with a release. Indeed to this day there hasn't been an official release of the tracks in America, nor has there been any official releases of the tracks anywhere in the world after 1967, all later releases seem to be pirates including the 1993 "Too Hot To Handle" cd. 10
"Suey" co-author Douglas "Jocko" Henderson was a well known black dj of whom Jimi for sure would have been aware of even before his association with Chalpin. "Suey" is very much reminiscent of Jocko's style of talking over records on air (listen to a 1957 aircheck here) and the lyrics probably were for the most part (if not completely) written by Jocko: several websites list "make my liver quiver", "make my knees freeze" and "make my back crack" (all part of the lyrics for "Suey") as Jocko's catchphrases. Unfortunately I haven't been able to find a direct printed or recorded quote yet but it does seem like "Suey" would have been written as some sort of an ad / theme tune for Jocko. The planned Chalco Records -label (with a Jocko-themed single as it's first release) would also suggest that Chalpin and Henderson were putting together some sort of a co-venture at the time of the recording of the song which obviously never happened. This could be another reason that the single never got a US release.
A big question is, what does the title "Suey" actually mean? It's easy to find a modern day dictionary entry for the word but what did it mean in New York City circa 1965 / 66?
Date of the recordings
Roby & Schreiber date the recording of both "Suey" and "As The Clouds Drift By" to have taken place in late January - early February 1966 2. The time frame was deducted from Jayne Mansfield's visits to New York 7 as neither Chalpin nor anybody else has ever produced an actual date for the session(s). The main evidence supporting this period as the time that the recordings took place is Mansfield's January - March 1966 15 "French Dressing" -revue booking at the New York City nightclub Latin Quarter.
AD IN "NEW YORK HERALD TRIBUNE" 27 JAN 1966
The only "firm" evidence about the date of the tracks comes from the copyright registry entries from the Library of Congress Copyright Office 5. The registration data is as follows:
AS THE CLOUDS DRIFT BY; w & m Sandy Brodsky. © P.P.X. Pub. Co.
(a division of PPX Enterprises, Inc.;
SUEY; w & m Ed Chalpin & Doug Henderson. © PPX Pub., Inc.;
Ed Chalpin claims in the Straight Ahead interview that both songs were recorded in the same session and both songs feature Jimi. "As The Clouds Drift By" however was copyrighted 15 March 1965 and "Suey" 3 January 1966. The copyright of course does not tell us when the tracks actually were recorded but with the dates so far apart it's very unlikely they were cut at the same session. It seems even more unlikely when you listen to the tracks back to back, they have completely different instrumentation and style from each other.
An interesting question is whether the tracks were copyrighted before or after they were recorded. Let's compare the copyrights for other Chalpin recordings registered in 1965 / 1966 (see the Curtis Knight -section for more info on these tracks):
45 How Would You Feel / Welcome Home
- single released in April 1966. "How Would You Feel" was recorded on the 6th of October 1965, the Copyright Office registration for the track is dated 25 October 1965, circa three weeks after the recording date. The exact recording date of "Welcome Home" is unknown but must have been recorded between October-November 1965, the track was copyrighted 2 December 1965 which would mean it was registered 1-2 months after the session.
45 Hornet's Nest / Knock Yourself Out
- exact single release date unknown but sometime in late 1966. RSVP publishing contracts were signed on 21st of June 1966 so the recording probably took place in June. The Copyright Office registrations for "Hornet's Nest" & "Knock Yourself Out" are dated 30 August 1966 & 6 September 1966 so circa 2 months after the probable recording date.
So based on other PPX copyright registrations one could assume that the Mansfield tracks would have been copyrighted roughly 1-2 months after they had been recorded.
As The Clouds Drift By
The instrumentation & style of "As The Clouds Drift By" and the copyright (15 March 1965) and recording agreement (8 May 1965) dates strongly suggest that the track was most likely recorded sometime in early 1965 well before Chalpin & Jimi first met (in October 1965) and thus has no involvement by Jimi.
The guitar & bass playing on Suey is all quite basic rhythm and there is very little about the track that would make one believe Jimi is playing on it if it wasn't for Chalpin saying so. According to Chalpin Jimi "did all the guitar parts", again unclear whether this means Jimi would have played just the two rhythm guitar parts or also the bass guitar part 13. Chalpin says he has photos of the session but that Jimi is not in them though according to him Jimi was present at the session 3.
Dating the session is pure guesswork but as the recordings very likely took place weeks or months before the copyright registrations the session for "Suey" could have taken place circa November-December 1965. This would be the exact timeframe of the 1965 Curtis Knight & the Squires sessions. But even if the basic track was recorded in 1965 Mansfield could have added her vocals in January-March 1966, the backing track of "Suey" is a very basic repetitive instrumental and could well have been cut without Jayne being present with her vocals added later during another session. In fact Chalpin's main business had been cutting backing tracks (see the "PPX backing tracks" -page) for licensing to other companies so their artists could record their vocals on top. Thus it would in no way have been odd for Jimi to have recorded an instrumental backing track that Chalpin would later have found a vocalist for. But Jayne may just as well have been in the studio with the band, without multitracks to study there's no way to tell from the recording itself.
The bass on "Suey" is odd: the slide at the end of the verses sounded too "boomy" to me to have been played with a regular electric bass so I thought it might have been played on an acoustic upright bass. I asked a few musicians and people in the know 6 to give their opinions and the results were interesting. A semi-acoustic fretless bass was one suggestion, an upright bass another, a trombone was suggested, one suggested a normal electric bass and two people (independent from one another) suggested that the main riff was played with an electric bass but the "slide" part was actually done with a percussion instrument, either by running one's hand across a drum skin or using a tunable percussion instrument, perhaps a timpani.
Ed Chalpin states that Jimi was present when Jayne recorded her vocals3 though it's unclear whether he means that the vocals were cut at the same time as the backing track or just that Jimi was in the studio when Jayne recorded her vocal. Either way, if Jimi appeared on a record by Jayne Mansfield then why didn't he ever mention this, not in a single interview? When the Jimi Hendrix Experience was put together in 1966 the biographies of Jimi done for the press did mention all the big acts that he had played with in the past but no mention was made of Mansfield, surely a very interesting name from a PR point of view? And when Jayne died in 1967 and the PPX 45 was released in the UK (while Jimi lived in England) there still was no mention of her from Jimi in any interviews. Even if Jimi was unhappy with his contribution to a musically less than spectacular recording surely someone with his sense of humor couldn't have resisted making a mention of the session at some point?
If one believes that Jimi did play on "Suey" one quite realistic explanation for him never mentioning exists: Chalpin had recorded the backing track separately from the vocal by Mansfield so Jimi didn't know he was on the record. That would explain why he never mentioned the recordings anywhere but this is of course pure speculation - and at odds with Chalpin's claim that Jimi was present at the session.
Listen to "Suey" on YouTube
1 reported in Straight Ahead July 1990 (volume #16) according to the Ed Chalpin interview published in Straight Ahead Vols. 63/64
2 "Becoming Jimi Hendrix" by Steven Roby & Brad Schreiber (page 138)
3 Ed Chalpin interview published in Straight Ahead Vols. 63/64
4 Billboard magazine issue 1 October 1966
5 Library Of Congress Catalog of Copyright Entries 3D Ser Vol 19 Pt 5 (Volume Catalog of Copyright Entries 1965 Music Jan-June 3D Ser Vol 19 Pt 5) and Catalog of Copyright Entries 3D Ser Vol 20 Pt 5 Secs 1-2 (Volume Catalog of Copyright Entries 1966 Music Jan-June 3D Ser Vol 20 Pt 5 Secs 1-2)
6 email conversations with Joel J. Brattin, Niko Karppinen, Janne Hongisto, Paul van Gelooven, Roeland Drost & Jari Ruotsalainen October 2013
7 email from Steve Roby 31 October 2013 in reply to my questions about the Ed Chalpin interview and the info presented in the book "Becoming Jimi Hendrix" by Roby & Schreiber.
8 a copy of a letter from Decca Records to Ed Chalpin dated 30 June 1967 - Ed Chalpin Papers, Library and Archives, Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum
9 copies of letters from Brian Graifman of PPX to Penthouse, High Society & Gallery magazines dated 11 April 1984 - Ed Chalpin Papers, Library and Archives, Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum
10 The "Too Hot To Handle" -cd is beautifully packaged and was available in your regular record stores but includes no licensing info, no credits, no contact info for the label - all suggesting it's a pirate. The Mansfield 45 tracks are sourced from a tape but they are hissier than on the 45 releases suggesting that the master tapes weren't used. Since PPX had over the years send out multiple copies of the tracks on tape (each men's magazine that PPX flogged the recordings to in 1984 received a copy) it would be no wonder if one of the tapes ended up on a pirate cd.
11 According to the book Jimi Hendrix Electric Gypsy by Harry Shapiro & Caesar Glebbeek the release date of the "How Would You Feel / You Don't Want Me" (Track Record 604 009) single was 17 August 1967 (p. 577)
12 a copy of the contract is a part of the Ed Chalpin Papers, Library and Archives, Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum
13 in the Straight Ahead July 1990 (volume #16) interview transcription Steven Roby quotes Chalpin as saying Jimi "did all the guitar parts" and in the book "Black Gold" Roby writes that "Chalpin eventually revealed that Hendrix played bass and then added a guitar track to Mansfield's vocal" (page 44). The track actually has 2 guitar parts and one bass part so both descriptions are a bit vague.
14 the book "Setting The Record Straight" by John McDermott and Eddie Kramer states that Chalpin send telegrams to Polydor, Pye and Warner Bros. on the 22th of May 1967 - a copy of a telegram send by Ed Chalpin to Louis Benjamin of Pye Records, London dated 22 May 1967 is included in the Ed Chalpin Papers, Library and Archives, Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum
15 Jayne Mansfield's "The City Of New York Department Of Licenses" "Application Cabaret Or Public Dance Hall Employee's Identification Card" dated 20 January 1966 and stamped with "issue temporary card" was sold by www.legendaryauctions.com. "Jayne Mansfield: A Bio-bibliography" by Jocelyn Faris dates the "French Dressing" -revue shows as having taken place 24 January - 8 March 1966. However, she quotes a review of the show published in the "New York Journal American" 24 January 1966 which mentions a "sold-out house". If the show opened on the 24th of January the newspaper couldn't have printed a review in the same day`s issue unless the reporter saw a press preview, the comment about the show being sold out however suggests the reporter attended a normal general public performance. But as the three reviews Faris quotes in the book all were published between 24-26 January it would seem at least her opening date is roughly correct as reviewers would have attended the first few showings. Roby & Schreiber date the appearances 18 January - 28 February 1966, the opening date of 18 January is unlikely to be correct, It predates the newspaper reviews by almost a week and it also predates the cabaret identification card application by two days.