David Noel Redding (25 December 1945 - 11 May 2003) was an English rock bassist and guitarist best known for his work as bassist with the Jimi Hendrix Experience.
Born in Folkestone, he was selected by Chas Chandler to join Hendrix's band at its inception in 1966 and left in 1969. Although he played in other bands before, after, and even during his stint with the Experience, he never achieved a similar level of success and retired to Clonakilty, Ireland, in 1972.
At age nine, Redding played violin at school and then mandolin and guitar. His first public appearances were at the Hythe Youth Club then at Harvey Grammar School where he was a student.
His first local bands, in which he played lead guitar, were:
The Strangers: with John "Andy" Andrews (bass),
The Lonely Ones: 1961 - John Andrews (bass), Bob Hiscocks (rhythm guitar), Mick Wibley (drums), Pete Kircher (vocals and in '62, drums). The Lonely Ones made a privately pressed EP at the Hayton Manor Studio in Stanford, Kent, in 1963, with Derek Knight on vocals, Trevor Sutton on drums, Noel Redding on lead guitar and John Andrews on bass. First recordings: "Some Other Guy"; "Money"; "Talking About You"; "Anna".,
The Loving Kind: 1966 with Pete (Kircher) Carter (drums); Jim Leverton (bass); and Derek Knight (vocals).,
At 17 Redding went professional and toured clubs in Scotland and Germany with Neil Landon and the Burnettes (formed in late 1962) and The Loving Kind (formed in November 1965). In addition, The Lonely Ones reunited in September 1964, and Redding remained with them a year before taking his leave.
Redding switched from guitar to bass on joining the Jimi Hendrix Experience. He was the first person to join the Experience, and the first to leave. His final concert with them was in June 1969. With the band, he helped create the 3 landmark albums Are You Experienced, Axis: Bold as Love, and Electric Ladyland, as well as performing in some of Hendrix's most celebrated concerts. His playing style was distinguished by the use of a pick, a mid-range "trebly" sound, and in later years the use of fuzz and distortion effects through overdriven Sunn amps. His role in the band was that of a time-keeper. This was evident in the Experience's version of "Come On (Baby Let the Good Times Roll)". He would typically lay down a bass groove which Hendrix and drummer Mitch Mitchell would loosely play on top of. He wrote two album tracks, "Little Miss Strange" and "She's So Fine". He played the bass line on "Red House" using the bass strings on a normal six-string guitar.
In 1968, Redding formed the group Fat Mattress with another Kent musician, Neil Landon (born as Patrick Cahill, 27 July 1941, Kirdford, Sussex), on vocals. The band also included Jim Leverton (born 1946, Dover, Kent) on bass and keyboards and Eric Dillon (born 1950, Swindon) on drums. Redding played guitar and vocals, and a key part of the Fat Mattress sound was the vocal harmonies between him, Landon, and Leverton. The band initially toured in support of the Jimi Hendrix Experience, requiring Redding to play two full sets each night. He left Fat Mattress after only one album with them, though some of his compositions would appear on their second album.
Hendrix's manager, Michael Jeffery, attempted to reunite the Jimi Hendrix Experience months after the Woodstock event. The three were interviewed by Rolling Stone magazine, but no shows or recordings resulted. Redding soon went on to other projects. While living in Los Angeles he formed Road, a three-piece in the same psychedelic hard rock vein as the Experience, with Rod Richards (born as Rod Cox; ex Rare Earth) on guitar and Les Sampson on drums, and Redding himself switching back to bass. They released one album, Road (1972), with the three members taking turns on lead vocals.
Noel Redding moved to Ireland in 1972. He formed The Noel Redding Band with Eric Bell from Thin Lizzy, Dave Clarke, Les Sampson, and Robbie Walsh. Despite the band's name, Redding shared songwriting and lead vocal duties equally with Clarke. They released two albums for RCA, three tours of the Netherlands, two tours of England, one tour of Ireland, and a 10 week tour in the US. The band dissolved after a dispute with their management company. Tracks recorded for a third unreleased album were later released as The Missing Album on Mouse Records.
In his book Are You Experienced? (co-authored with Carol Appleby) he spoke openly about his disappointment in his being cut off from the profits of the continued sale of the Hendrix recordings. He was forced to sign away his royalties in 1974 and later had to sell the bass guitar he used during that time. Redding had received $100,000 (equivalent to about $478,205 in today's funds) as a one-off payment after he had been told that there would be no more releases of Jimi Hendrix Experience material. (This was before the advent of CDs and DVDs.) Right up until his death, Redding had been planning legal action against the Hendrix estate for payment estimated at £3.26 million for his part in Hendrix's recording and for ongoing royalties.
Redding was married to Danish schoolteacher Susanne Redding.
Redding recorded and toured sporadically through the years, occasionally doing session work for other artists, including Thin Lizzy and Traffic. He performed with the rock band Phish in 1993. He also formed Shut Up Frank with Dave Clarke, Mick Avory of The Kinks and Dave Rowberry of The Animals. They toured extensively and recorded several albums. Frankie LaRocka was back playing drums for a New York band Hot Monkey Love and with Noel Redding on a 2002 live album recorded at Prague.
From August 1997 through to the end of 2001 Noel worked with San Francisco based musician Keith Dion whose band 3:05 AM backed him on several tours and recording sessions. Dion also performed with Redding in the UK during this time period and produced the live document "West Cork Tuning: Noel Redding with 3:05 AM", which was subsequently sub-licensed several times in The UK and Europe through Almafame, Charly and Snapper Records. Dion is currently working on a full length Noel Redding biographical film feature for DVD and film festival release which will also feature a CD of Noel's last recording studio sessions while in San Francisco.
Redding was found dead in his home in Clonakilty on 11 May 2003. A post mortem was carried out on 13 May at Cork University Hospital in Wilton, Cork. The report concluded that Redding died from "shock haemorrhage due to oesophageal varices in reaction to cirrhosis of the liver". He was 57 years old. In the village of Ardfield, local people erected a plaque to his memory.
A compilation CD and record entitled The Experience Sessions was released by Experience Hendrix, LLC in 2004. Along with the released tracks ("She's So Fine" and "Little Miss Strange") the collection contains rare and unreleased Redding-penned songs recorded by The Jimi Hendrix Experience. Most of the tracks are outtakes from Axis: Bold As Love and Electric Ladyland, and feature Redding predominantly on guitar (with Hendrix on bass). It also features a live version of Hendrix's "Red House" with Redding on rhythm guitar.