In the world of rock/metal music, it is easier to remember the name of the one in the spotlight.
But what we forget is that in this music only one is not enough to bring success, but a group of musicians is needed.
So, in the case of our favorite Jimi Hendrix…
Hendrix was not alone; he had a team that “helped” him write and promote his music.
One of the members of the team is the bassist William Cox (better known as Billy Cox), who played with Hendrix in Woodstock.
To be precise, Cox, Larry Lee, Mitch Mitchell, Juma Sultan, and Gerardo Velez accompanied Hendrix as “Gypsy Sun and Rainbows”.
But let’s start from the beginning…
Cox and Hendrix met in 1961 when they were both serving in the military, specifically in Kentucky.
Their musical journey already began with their first acquaintance, when Cox heard someone playing guitar in the bathroom.
Impressed by what he heard; he was immediately introduced to Hendrix as a bassist.
It did not take long for the two of them to start playing in different clubs.
They soon left the army and settled in Nashville, where they formed the “King Kasuals”.
It is worth noting that at that time it was a supporting act to Marion James, known as the “Queen of the Nashville Blues”.
Hendrix started his journey to New York and England shortly afterward, but Cox could not follow him.
With no money and only three strings on his bass, it was expected to be unable to go with Hendrix.
Of course, Cox continued to play music for various bands and TV shows at the time.
The trip to New York
In 1969, shortly before Noel Redding left the “Jimi Hendrix Experience”, Hendrix called his old friend Cox again.
This time Cox answered the call and went to New York, where he played bass for Hendrix.
Once the “Jimi Hendrix Experience” disbanded, Hendrix and Cox formed “Gypsy Sun and Rainbows”.
Cox also participated in “The Cry of Love Tour”, while also recording many Hendrix albums such as:
The Cry of Love (1971), Rainbow Bridge (1971), War Heroes (1972), and Loose Ends (1974).
Most of the tracks from these albums were consolidated as First Rays of the New Rising Sun (1997).
At this point, we have to mention that Cox not only played with Hendrix but also with other big names of the time like them:
Sam Cooke, Slim Harpo, Joe Simon, Charlie Daniels, John McLaughlin, Rufus Thomas, Carla Thomas, Lou Rawls, Etta James, Jackie Wilson, and Little Richard.
Life after Hendrix
His talent and love for music did not begin or end with Hendrix, on the contrary…
In 1971 he released his album “Nitro Function” with the participation of both Char Vinnedge (Luv’d Ones) and Robert Tarrant.
Cox also played as a bassist in the Charlie Daniels Bands.
Along with Mitchell, Redding, and Miles, Cox began appearing in various Hendrix concerts in 1995, and in 1999 participated in Bruce Cameron’s album “Midnight Daydream”.
Dedicated to Hendrix, Cox co-created “Gypsy Sun Experience” with Mitchell and guitarist Gary Serkin.
The respect he had for Hendrix is also evident from the fact that he worked on his latest album, “First Rays of the New Rising Sun”, which was not released due to his untimely death.
As is well known, Hendrix wanted to help young musicians make their dream come true, and Cox tried to do that.
He tried to pass Hendrix’s vision to young musicians by teaching at universities, but also by reducing the cost of recordings.
He achieved the second by participating and inviting young musicians to record in the now legendary “Electric Lady Studios” in Greenwich Village.
Reuniting with Miles, Gales, Kenny Olsen, Sheldon Reynolds, Andy Aledort, and Gary Serkin to re-perform songs from the original 1970 live album, “gave birth” to a new one in 2004 entitled “The Band Of Gypsys Return”.
His solo album “Last Gypsy Standing” was released in 2009, the same year he joined the “Musicians Hall of Fame and Museum” in Nashville.
Today, at the age of 81, he is full of experiences and awards that make him one of the best bassists, even if some Rockies do not remember his name!