Pete Klimek, Creativity in Many Forms

It’s not just Pete Klimek’s photographic skills, or his artistic photo manipulations, or his poetry or amazing good looks, or his beautiful voice in the music he writes and records … it’s also his remarkable life.

1969 Vienna. The communist occupied, bullet-riddled streets of Prague. Pete Klimek’s family escaped as refugees and “settled like dust” in South Africa, a far cry from the bohemian-style cafes where poetry readings were a common as sipping Turkish coffee in smoky coffee houses.

Read what you will into Pete’s photography. He didn’t discuss his sexuality with me. It doesn’t matter. I am simply enchanted by the man and his work. His poetry is published in a collection called View from the Middle of the Road, Vol. 4 and is available at Amazon.

Pete first picked up his guitar to perform for his first audience in 1977, where he performed his own compositions, and has never quite put it down since, thus making his vocation an eternal series of auditions as a singer/songwriter. Count me among the first to buy his new CD called The Purpose in Everything to be released next month, October 2012. You can hear his music on his website:


Creativity brought Pete back to Europe in the 1990s, where he settled in Rotterdam. Photography and writing formed the essence of his soul. His images and words became intimately interconnected with his thoughts, dreams and emotions. His music echoes in the hallways and alleys of Holland, Germany, the UK, Spain, Belgium and on various radio stations between the continents.

As if all of this were not enough, Pete ranked among South Africa’s top ten tennis players in high school and was offered a scholarship at Tennessee State. Too bad he didn’t take the offer … we might have him here in the States now. But then he would have to put up with our screwy politics.

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Johnny Dee and the Rocket 88’s

This fabulous group never left the fifties. Take a walk down memory lane with Johnny Dee and the Rocket 88s.

I had the good fortune to see them perform in a club on Sixth Street in Austin. They’re loud, they’re raucous, they’re cool … they make you loose count of how many beers you’ve had. They help keep Austin weird.

Here’s their promo video …

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Jimi Hendrix…Has it really been 40 years?

I’ll never forget the first time I heard Jimi Hendrix, driving in my car, over the radio.  I couldn’t believe my ears, even in this era, when the greatest rock music ever created was being written and performed. I remember other rock stars bemoaning the fact they’ll never sell another record, fearing no one could compete with Hendrix.  By anyone’s estimation, he above all others mastered the guitar.



Jimi Hendrix (November 27, 1942, Seattle, Washington – September 18, 1970, London, England) was an American guitarist, singer and songwriter. Hendrix is recognized as one of the greatest and most influential guitarists in rock music history. After initial success in England, he achieved worldwide fame following his 1967 performance at the Monterey Pop Festival. Later, Hendrix headlined the iconic 1969 Woodstock Festival before his death in 1970, at the age of 27.

A self-taught musician, Hendrix played a Fender Stratocaster guitar turned upside down (“left-handed”) and restrung to suit him. Hendrix pioneered the technique of guitar feedback with overdriven amplifiers, incorporating what was previously an undesirable sound into his music. He built upon the innovations and influences of blues stylists such as B.B. King, Muddy Waters, Albert King, and T-Bone Walker, and derived style from rhythm and blues and soul guitarists Curtis Mayfield, Steve Cropper, and Cornell Dupree, as well as from traditional jazz. Part of Hendrix’s flamboyant stage persona may have been inspired by rock pioneer Little Richard, with whom he toured as part of Richard’s back-up band, “The Upsetters”.

Hendrix strove to combine what he called “earth”, a blues, jazz, or funk driven rhythm accompaniment, with “space”, the high-pitched psychedelic sounds created by his guitar improvisations. As a record producer, Hendrix also broke new ground in using the recording studio as an extension of his musical ideas; he was one of the first to experiment with stereophonic and phasing effects during recording.

JimiHendrix7Hendrix was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 1992 and the UK Music Hall of Fame in 2005. His star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame (at 6627 Hollywood Blvd.) was dedicated in 1994. In 2006, his debut album, Are You Experienced, was inducted into the United States National Recording Preservation Board’s National Recording Registry. Rolling Stone named Hendrix number 1 on their list of the 100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time in 2003.

Early life

Johnny Allen Hendrix (later re-named James Marshall Hendrix) was born on November 27, 1942 in Seattle, Washington. Hendrix’s parents divorced when he was nine years old, and in 1958 his mother died. He went to live with his grandmother because of his unstable household. Hendrix did not graduate from high school. Hendrix later claimed that he was expelled for holding hands with his white girlfriend, but when questioned later, his principal insisted that it was due to poor grades and frequent absences.

Hendrix got into trouble with the law twice for riding in a stolen car. He was given a choice between spending two years in prison or joining the army. Hendrix chose the latter and enlisted on May 31, 1961. After completing boot camp he was assigned to the 101st Airborne Division and stationed in Fort Campbell, Kentucky. His commanding officers considered him to be a sub-par soldier: he slept while on duty, had little regard for regulations and showed no skill as a marksman. He was given an early release from military service in Fort Campbell, Kentucky for “behavioral problems”, though rumors held that he faked homosexuality or was given a medical release for breaking his ankle while parachuting.

Early career

After his release, Hendrix and army friend Billy Cox moved to nearby Clarksville, Tennessee, where they formed a band called The King Kasuals. Playing in low-paying gigs at obscure venues, the ‘band’ eventually moved to Nashville. Playing and sometimes living in the clubs along Jefferson Street, the traditional heart of Nashville’s black community and home to a lively rhythm and blues scene offered some sort of ‘existence’. In November 1962, Hendrix participated in his first studio session, where his wild but still undeveloped playing found him cut from the soundboard.


For the next three years, Hendrix made a precarious living on the Chitlin Circuit, performing in black-oriented venues throughout the South with both the King Kasuals and in backing bands for various soul, R&B, and blues musicians, including Chuck Jackson, Slim Harpo, Tommy Tucker, Sam Cooke, and Jackie Wilson. The Chitlin Circuit was an important phase of Jimi’s career, since the refinement of his style and blues roots occurred there. His work garnered him little fame or profit, and the extremes of racism and poverty that he endured left an indelible mark on his memories of this era.

Frustrated by his experiences in the South, Hendrix decided to try his luck in New York City. Jimi was always inspired by a saying he once heard from his grandmother: “I want to need to have you. First I have to need to want you.” In January 1964, he moved to Harlem, where he quickly befriended Lithofayne “Fayne” Pridgeon (who later became his girlfriend) and the Allen twins, Arthur and Albert (now known as Taharqa and Tunde-Ra Aleem). The Allen twins quickly became loyal friends who kept Hendrix out of trouble in New York. The twins also performed as backup singers (under the name Ghetto Fighters) on some of his recordings, most notably the funk anthem “Freedom”. Pridgeon, a beautiful Harlem native with connections throughout the area’s music scene, provided Hendrix with shelter, support, and encouragement during the poorest and most desperate years of his life. In February 1964, Hendrix won first prize in the Apollo Theater amateur contest. The win was encouraging, but in general he found breaking into the New York scene difficult.

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