On this day in 1966 — 51 years ago — Jimi Hendrix stepped off a jet in London with his soon-to-be manager, Chas Chandler, and the rest is history.
Reportedly, Hendrix arrived with just the clothes on his back, as he had to settle some debts in New York before embarking on the transatlantic flight. From there, things got much better.
He legally changed his name from James to Jimi while in England, officially signed on with Chandler, and met Kathy Etchingham—who was to be his girlfriend for more than two years. Chandler also went about auditioning musicians for Hendrix to perform with, ultimately finding bassist Noel Redding and drummer Mitch Mitchell, who became the Jimi Hendrix Experience.
London was obviously a whole new game for Hendrix, who had been struggling to make ends meet while playing R&B gigs in the States. Linda Keith — then, the girlfriend of Keith Richards — saw Hendrix performing with Curtis Knight and the Squires at New York's Cheetah Club, and talked him up to some industry people (including Stones manager Andrew Loog Oldham) who were unimpressed, until Chandler took notice.
September 24, 1966 is also the date of Hendrix's debut London performance, as he played a solo gig at The Scotch of St. James.