facebook
CURTIS KNIGHT (& THE SQUIRES)


1965 Studio Recordings

In order to properly understand the relationships between Jimi Hendrix, Curtis Knight, RSVP & PPX it's necessary to look at all of the recordings that Curtis Knight made during 1965 including those that did not involve Jimi.

Curtis seems to have signed recording and publishing contracts with RSVP in late 1964 / early 1965 as the first new Curtis Knight single since 1962 (as far as I can determine) was released by the label in April 1965.


1965 RSVP recordings WITH NO INVOLVEMENT BY JIMI
The Library of Congress copyright registration catalogs 1 & 2 list five Curtis Knight compositions for early 1965:

AIN'T GONNA BE NO NEXT TIME; w & m Curtis
Knight. 2 p, © RSVP Music, Inc;
11Feb65; EU866323.

MORE LOVE; w & m Curtis Knight. 2 p.
© RSVP Music, Inc.; 11Feb65; EU866320.

SUDDENLY; w & m Curtis Knight. 2 p
© RSVP Music, Inc.; 10Mar65 ; EU871253.

WELCOME HOME; w Curtis Knight, m Dick
Glass. 2 p. © RSVP Music, Inc.;
10Mar65; EU871252.

LET ME BE YOURS; w & m Curtis Knight.
2 p. © RSVP Music, Inc.; 12Jul65;
EU892143.

All of these registrations done in February-July were copyrighted by RSVP Music, Inc. so it would seem all of these songs were registered with some sort of release by the RSVP label in mind. Exactly what kind of a contract Curtis had with RSVP is unknown but a single featuring two of these tracks was released in April 1965 3:

"Ain't Gonna Be No Next Time / More Love" (RSVP 1111)
Listen to "Ain't Gonna Be No Next Time" on YouTube

Curtis Knight - Ain't Gonna Be No Next Time

The 45 was produced by Harold Thomas and Peter Orna with the publishing credited to RSVP on the label (as per the copyright registrations). Where these tracks were recorded is unknown but a likely location is Allegro Studios where other RSVP recordings were done. The registration date of 11 February 1965 for both of the tracks means they could would have been recorded circa January 1965 or even earlier . Who was backing Curtis on these recordings is not known.

The registration for "Welcome Home" is very interesting, it is NOT a registration for the version Curtis cut with Jimi but an earlier one with different writing credits. Exactly what the songs "Suddenly" and "Let Me Be Yours" are is unknown, they might have been tracks that Curtis recorded himself for possible release or they might have been recorded by another artist.


OCTOBER 1965 PPX recordings FEATURING JIMI

By October 1965 Curtis Knight had formed some kind of a working relationship with Ed Chalpin and PPX Enterprises, Inc. Whether this was a management or a recording contract (or both of them) is unknown. At least three songs ("How Would You Feel", "Don't Accuse Me" and "You Don't Want Me") were recorded for PPX in October 1965 at Chalpin's Studio 76.

None of the tracks were registered by RSVP or PPX at the time, instead Curtis used his own name for the registrations which might indicate that he was "between contracts". It is interesting to note that Curtis was first associated with RSVP, and even after he started to record for PPX the resulting tracks were released by RSVP. When "How Would You Feel" was licensed to RSVP and released by the label as a single in 1966 the publishing was credited jointly to PPX & RSVP.


AN LP AUTOGRAPHED BY CURTIS KNIGHT.
COURTESY OF LASSE ALEXANDERSSON

A bigger change than the contractual ones was that all of the October 1965 recordings featured Jimi Hendrix on guitar. Curtis had met Jimi on the 5th of October 1965 and took him to Studio 76 to record "How Would You Feel" the very next day.4

The songs recorded during the October 1965 sessions are very different in style from the ones Curtis had composed and recorded in the first half of 1965. Exactly how much of this can be credited to Jimi is difficult to say. Speaking about the first track they recorded, "How Would You Feel", according to Jimi Curtis "Sang the lyrics to me, you know, and gave me a rough idea how the lyrics went, the melody went" and Jimi worked out the chord changes "according to his melody" 4.

Jimi was credited for the arrangements of "How Would You Feel" and "Welcome Home" on the RSVP single label so it's probable he arranged some or all of the other tracks as well and his guitar playing is a prominent feature of all of the recordings that in general sound much rougher and aggressive than the tracks Curtis had recorded earlier in the year. So one could argue Jimi had considerable influence on the new direction of Curtis Knight's music. Curtis must however have already composed at least some of the tracks that were recorded as he clearly already had arranged for sessions at Studio 76 before he met Jimi.

Jimi signed a contract with PPX on the 15th October 1965 and participated in several recording sessions for the company before and after the signing. Very little session info has been released by Chalpin, the only reliable information comes from Jimi's PPX court case deposition from 7 March 1968 (partly reproduced in Univibes #35). According to Jimi he recorded for PPX maybe "six, seven, eight times" 4. There are six currently known finished PPX master recordings from 65-66 (seven if you include "Suey") so it would seem that there weren't many songs recorded per session.

During Jimi's deposition interview PPX layer Elliot Hoffman only mentions October 1965 and December 1965 as dates for PPX recordings 4. There could of course have been other sessions during other months that simply weren't discussed but as Hoffman was at the time trying to make a as strong as possible case for Jimi being under contract to PPX one would assume that all of the sessions that took place would have been mentioned.

The personnel & date information listed below is mainly based on Jimi's deposition interview. The recording date for "How Would You Feel" is mentioned during the interview, the other two tracks may or may not have been recorded during the same session. They must however all have been recorded during October as all three tracks were copyrighted on the 25th of October so all date from between 6-25 October 1965.

How Would You Feel

Composer: Curtis Knight
Producer: Ed Chalpin
Arranged by: Jimi Hendrix
Recorded at: Studio 76, New York City
Engineer: unknown
Date: 6 October 1965
Vocals: Curtis Knight
Harmony vocals: Jimi Hendrix, Curtis Knight?, Johnny Star?
Tambourine: Curtis Knight?
Guitar: Jimi Hendrix
Fuzz bass: Jimi Hendrix
Drums: unknown

The track owes more than a little to Bob Dylan's "Like A Rolling Stone" released in July 1965. As Jimi was a huge Dylan fan this must have been partly because of his influence even though Curtis Knight is credited as the sole composer. Asked about the session Jimi said "...the first session we did was the one that I played all the instruments except the drums" and regarding overdubs "I guess about four including the bass" 4.

In a letter to UK music publishers Campbell Connelly & Co. Limited dated 8 November 1965 Ed Chalpin says he's sending over five acetates of songs available for publishing (no titles are listed so these might have included other artists in addition to Curtis Knight"). He makes special mention of one track:
"...really hot numbers, especially the protest song, "How Would You Feel." As you know, the protest records are really taking the country by storm." 6.

Original 1965 copyright registration 2:

HOW WOULD YOU FEEL (IF YOU WERE ME)?
w & m Curtis Knight, pseud. of Curtis
McNear. © Curtis Knight; 250ct65;
EU909064.


Don't Accuse Me
Composer: Curtis Knight
Producer: Ed Chalpin
Arranged by: Jimi Hendrix?
Recorded at: Studio 76, New York City
Engineer: unknown
Date: October 1965
Vocals: Curtis Knight
Harmony vocals: Johnny Star?
Guitar: Jimi Hendrix
Fuzz bass: Jimi Hendrix?
Bass: Jimi Hendrix?
Drums: unknown

Two guitar parts by Jimi and one fuzz bass part. The fuzz box Jimi is using could be the one that Ken Pine of the Fugs build for him.

"Don't Accuse Me" was originally designated as the flip side of the "How Would You Feel" 45. In a letter to the record label RCA Victor dated 2 November 1965 Ed Chalpin wrote: "How Would You Feel" is the protest song and probably the greatest one written yet. Backed with "Don't Accuse Me" which is a hard driving rhythm and blues tune which continues to build all the way through." 5.

Original 1965 copyright registration 2:

DON'T ACCUSE ME; w & m Curtis Knight,
pseud. of Curtis McNear. © Curtis
Knight; 250ct65; EU909O63.


You Don't Want Me

Composer: Curtis Knight
Producer: Ed Chalpin
Arranged by: Jimi Hendrix?
Recorded at: Studio 76, New York City
Engineer: unknown
Date: October 1965
Vocals: Curtis Knight
Harmony vocals: Johnny Star?
Guitar: Jimi Hendrix
Fuzz bass: Jimi Hendrix?
Bass: Jimi Hendrix?
Drums: unknown

Original 1965 copyright registration 2:

YOU DON'T WANT ME; w & m Curtis Knight,
pseud. of Curtis McNear. © Curtis
Knight; 250ct65; EU909166.


UNDATED PPX recordings FEATURING JIMI
In addition to the three tracks definitely recorded in October 1965 three more tracks exist that are at the moment impossible to date with any accuracy: "Welcome Home", "Simon Says" and "Strange Things":


Welcome Home

Composer: Oliver Sain, Curtis Knight (& Dick Glass?)
Producer: Ed Chalpin
Arranged by: Jimi Hendrix
Recorded at: Studio 76, New York City
Engineer: unknown
Date: October? 1965
Vocals: Curtis Knight
"Audience": Jimi Hendrix & unknown others
Tambourine: Curtis Knight?
Guitars: Jimi Hendrix
Bass: unknown
Drums: unknown

The track had already been registered in March 1965 by RSVP Music but was in December registered for a second time by Curtis Knight (as the October 1965 tracks) and with different writing credits, 2:

WELCOME HOME; w & m Curtis Knight,
pseud. of Curtis McNear. © Curtis
Knight; 2Dec65; EU914932.

All of the available info suggests "Welcome Home" was recorded sometime later than "How Would You Feel", "Don't Accuse Me" & "You Don't Want Me":

  • - it was copyrighted more than a month later
  • - it sounds quite different from the first three tracks
  • - it replaced "Don't Accuse Me", the originally planned flip of the "How Would You Feel" 45.

At the moment October 1965 would still seem the most likely recording date for "Welcome Home". As the track was registered 2 December it's unlikely it was recorded in December (registration probably couldn't have been completed in a day in 1965), Jimi spend most (if not all) of November on the road with Joey Dee and the Starlighters and there is no mention in Jimi's deposition interview of any November 1965 sessions.

Who actually wrote this track is open to discussion as the track is musically a practically direct copy of a song called "Don't Mess Up A Good Thing".

"Welcome Home" was first registered on the 10th of March 1965 so obviously the track was (at least partially) composed months before Curtis Knight even met Jimi Hendrix. The original March registration credited "Welcome Home" to Curtis Knight & Dick Glass but the second 2 December 1965 registration gave Curtis Knight the sole writing credit.

"Don't Mess Up A Good Thing" was composed by Oliver Sain, the original recording by Fontella Bass and Bobby McClure was released in January 1965 on Checker 1097 coupled with "Baby What You Want Me to Do" (the same Jimmy Reed song that the Squires played live). The 45 was advertised in the 23 January 1965 issue of Billboard and reviewed in the "Singles Reviews" -section in the category "Rhythm & Blues Spotlights". The first registration of "Welcome Home" was done some 2 months later.

Listen to "Don't Mess Up A Good Thing" on YouTube.

The music for the first registration of "Welcome Home" was credited to Dick Glass. As we do not know what that first version was like it's impossible to say who adapted the music of "Don't Mess Up A Good Thing" into "Welcome Home", Dick Glass or Curtis Knight. Dick Glass was a folk artist who passed away in 1992 so we'll unfortunately probably never find out what his exact involvement with "Welcome Home" was.


Simon Says

Composer: Curtis Knight
Producer: Ed Chalpin
Arranged by: Jimi Hendrix?
Recorded at: Studio 76, New York City
Engineer: unknown
Date: December? 1965?
Vocals: Curtis Knight
Guitars: Jimi Hendrix
Bass: unknown
Drums: unknown
Sax: Lonnie Youngblood?

With a very nice rhythm track with three guitar parts by Jimi. Note that most mixes of this track have the sax part removed. Only vocal mixes of the track are currently available but Chalpin did supply Capitol with an instrumental mix that was never used, this is included in the master list attendum to the PPX contract with Capitol 7.

During Jimi's deposition interview PPX layer Elliot Hoffman only mentions October 1965 and December 1965 as dates for PPX recordings. When asked about recordings done in December Jimi mentions "Simon Says" but says he can't be sure of the month. Since three of the six currently known original PPX masters (that is, tracks cut for Chalpin pre-1967) were definitely done in October there is a good chance that "Simon Says" could indeed have been one of the tracks recorded in December 1965. The copyright registration for this track is as follows, note that this is the first Knight & Hendrix -track registered by PPX (all the previous ones were registered by Curtis Knight) which also suggests it does not date from the October 1965 sessions:

SIMON SAYS; words & music by Curtis
Knight. 3 sheets. © PPX Pub., a
division of PPX Enterprises, Inc.;
18Aug66; CI8728.

The registration date 18 August 1966 however does not fit the December 1965 theory very well. The tracks done in October were registered immediately in the same month, here we would have a gap of circa 8 months between recording & registration which is a bit odd. What is even stranger is the sort of registration that was done for the track, it hasn't been copyrighted as a musical composition but under "Lectures and other works prepared for oral delivery"! (as indicated by the "C" at the start of the registration number) 8.

The instrumentation may provide another clue: this is the only Curtis Knight studio recording that has a sax part on it. Sax player Lonnie Youngblood seems to have been playing with the Squires in December 1965. He's audible on the live recordings from George's Club 20 dated 26 December 1965 (though whether the date is entirely accurate is debatable, see the "Live" -section) and can be seen in photographs taken at the club around the same period. There is no evidence of Youngblood being a member of the band in October - November 1965 and he had left the band by June 1966 when they signed with RSVP. So it could be Youngblood on sax which might make the track more likely to have been recorded in December 1965 - but the sax on this track could of course also have been played by an unknown session musician.


Strange Things

Composer: Curtis Knight
Producer: Ed Chalpin
Arranged by: Jimi Hendrix?
Recorded at: Studio 76, New York City
Engineer: unknown
Date: 1965?
Vocals - Curtis Knight
Drums - Marion Booker?
Guitars - Jimi Hendrix
Bass - Napoleon Anderson?
Organ - Nathaniel Edmonds Sr. (aka Nate Edmonds)?

As this track is not listed among those that Chalpin purchased from RSVP (see the 1966 studio recordings -section) it's probably an original PPX recording but apart from that there's practically no information available. I can't find a copyright registration for 1965 or 1966, only a later 1967 registration seems to exist which is of no help in dating the track:

STRANGE THINGS; w & m Curtis Knight,
1 p. @ PPX Pub, Co., a division of
PPX Enterprises, Inc.; 10Oct67;
EU18613.

This is the only PPX recording with organ on it. The June 1966 RSVP recordings have organ player Nate Edmonds on them and he can be seen in the May 1966 Cheetah pictures which (if it is Nate playing the organ here) would suggest a 1966 recording date. However there currently isn't any proof of Jimi recording any sessions for PPX in 1966 and if the organ player isn't Nate Edmonds then there are no clues to even pin a recording year on this one let alone a month. There might be a pre-1967 copyright registration somewhere out there but so far I have been unable to find one.

Curtis did introduce the track as being recorded in 1965 during a live performance but a comment made during a gig 30+ years later really isn't very strong evidence: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2caOqrXJIhs


PPX DEMO RECORDING
In his deposition interview 4 Jimi gives details of a demo recording of his own composition that he made in 1965. Here's a compilation of relevant quotes from Jimi:
"One time I was doing a demo, I wrote a song one night; and the next morning, you know, I wanted to record it; I wanted to make a demo of it". "It was something like Hey, Pretty Baby or something like that".

Chalpin was present, and "while we was packing up equipment, he comes back, you know, and calls me in his office very light, and so forth. And then he asked, did I have any contracts with anybody? So I said, Yes I have a recording contract with Sue.` And he said - well, like, `How would you like to sign a contract as a backing musician, or producing things, maybe songs, or arranging them? And the way he explained it to me was that it had nothing at all to do with the Sue contract whatsoever" Chalpin "laid it on the desk, you know. And since I took it as an insurance of getting paid for sessions, I signed it".

If Jimi signed a contract with PPX after the session then the recordings must have taken place 15th of October 1965, the date on the contract.

Later on Jimi makes mention of a time "when everybody was in the studio on my own money, like, to make a demo". It is unfortunately unclear if he refers to the previously described demo session or is talking about another time that he made a demo. Even if the number of demo sessions is unclear it's very interesting that there was at least one occasion where Jimi paid others to get his own song(s) recorded.

Among the 1967 9 copyright registrations (which included several tracks originally recorded 65-66) of Curtis Knight tracks there is one very interesting entry:

OOH-AH; w & m Jimi Hendrix & Curtis
Knight. 2 p. © PPX Pub. Co., a div .
of PPX Enterprises, Inc.; 18Aug67 ;
EU10730.

This could of course in principle be a familiar title under a different name or an unreleased 1967 jam but what's note worthy about this one is that it gives partial composing credits to Jimi. There isn't a single other Ed Chalpin produced / registered track that gives Jimi writing credits so this song would appear to be a genuine Jimi Hendrix & Curtis Knight co-composition (or a Jimi solo composition with co-credit to Curtis added later). Either way it could be an unreleased proper song with lyrics, possibly even the same demo that according to Jimi he recorded at Studio 76. Chalpin might not have been able to release the track if it was composed and maybe also financed by Jimi. If someone could get hold of the two page registration we might  know much more as transcribed lyrics for the song would probably be included.





SOURCES
1 Library of Congress Copyright Office
Catalog of Copyright Entries 1965 Music Jan-June 3D Ser Vol 19 Pt 5
2 Library of Congress Copyright Office
Catalog of Copyright Entries 1965 Music July-Dec 3D Ser Vol 19 Pt 5
3 Listed in Billboard magazine April 17, 1965 issue under "SPOTLIGHT WINNERS OF THE WEEK".
4 Jimi's PPX court case deposition interview recorded 7 March 1968 in New York City, partially reproduced in Univibes issue #35
5 a copy of a letter from Ed Chalpin to Ben Rosner of  RCA Victor in New York City dated 2 November 1965 - Ed Chalpin Papers, Library and Archives, Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum
6 a copy of a letter from Ed Chalpin to Mike Collier of Campbell Connelly & Co. Limited in London dated 8 November 1965 - Ed Chalpin Papers, Library and Archives, Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum
7 Ed Chalpin's contract with Capitol Records, page 5 attendum no. 1 "a) TITLES OF SELECTIONS EMBODIED IN THE "MASTERS" - Ed Chalpin Papers, Library and Archives, Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum
8 Library of Congress Copyright Office
Catalog of Copyright Entries 1966 Dramas Jan-Dec 3D Ser Vol 20 Pts 3-4
9 Library of Congress Copyright Office
Catalog of Copyright Entries 1967 Music July-Dec 3D Ser Vol 21 Pt 5