“They’ll adore you,” Phil May told Jimi Hendrix

I got friendly with Jimi after seeing him at this extraordinary showcase gig. I remember the time he was about to play Paris, which to me was Babylon. The Pretty Things were like kings there, we always went down a storm. So I said to Jimi: ‘God, when you get to Paris they’re going to fall at your feet. They’ll adore you.’

“We had a gig together at Paris University [March 4, 1967, the Law Society Graduation Ball], which had one of those old-fashioned halls that probably held about fifteen hundred people. It was packed. We went on first, with Jimi after us. I remember waiting in the wings afterwards to see how he got on, and the French mostly ignored him. In the end there were only about three hundred people left. He was going: ‘What’s all this about? What’s going on? Oh, thanks, man.’ He couldn’t believe it, because I’d built it up in his mind so much. It was almost like we’d set him up. Then, of course, he went back about three weeks later and tore the place apart.

Phil May (left) with the Pretty Things in the 60s

Phil May (left) with the Pretty Things in the 60s (Image credit: Rex)

“We’d sometimes bump into each other at parties around London. Both of us were quite shy people, so rather than going into the main room, where all the egos were flashing and crashing, we’d meet in the kitchen and have a joint. We were nicely stoned, but we didn’t want all the bullshit. We’d talk about music together. Also we had a mutual friend, a lovely girl who was actually kept by a Saudi prince and given a flat in Cromwell Road. We used to go back there and get kicked out at three in the morning.

“The thing about Jimi was that whenever you met him and he didn’t have a guitar in his hand he was quite sombre. It was almost like you were meant to say: ‘Hey, man, what’s up?’ He had a habit of always looking down, hardly looking at you at all, in that shy way of his. I liked him very much.”