Mitch Mitchell, the great rock drummer who made history as a founding member of the original Jimi Hendrix Experience, and who was the group’s last surviving member, has died.

According to numerous media reports, Mitchell was found Wednesday night in a room at the Benson, a Portand, Oregon hotel. The cause of Mitchell’s death has not been determined, though early reports indicate it was probably due to natural causes. Mitchell was 62.

The drummer had been performing in the Pacific Northwest as part of the Experience Hendrix tour, which featured both original Hendrix sidemen like himself and Band of Gypsys’ bassist Billy Cox, along with modern-day musicians like Kenny Wayne Sheppard. The tour was put together by Experience Hendrix, the family run business who controls the rights to the guitarist’s music, as a tribute to his music and memory.

Mitch Mitchell, along with bassist Noel Redding (who died in 2003), became the other two thirds of the “Experience” power-trio built around legendary guitarist Jimi Hendrix in the 1960’s. The trio was put together after the Seattle born guitarist had taken the London, England music scene by storm, making fans of such heavyweights of the time as Eric Clapton, and members of the Beatles and the Rolling Stones.

Manager Chas Chandler, himself a former member of Eric Burdon And The Animals assembled the Jimi Hendrix Experience soon after, and before long the band would become a sensation around the world. Mitchell and Redding played with Hendrix as the Experience on such landmark albums as Are You Experienced, Axis: Bold As Love, and Electric Ladyland. Over the course of his career, Mitchell also played with a virtual who’s who of rock music’s most elite musicians, including Eric Clapton, John Lennon, Keith Richards, Jack Bruce, Jeff Beck, blues great Muddy Waters, and others.

But the Jimi Hendrix Experience would not last as a group.

By 1969, Hendrix was looking to branch out by playing with other musicians, and Noel Redding had returned to playing lead guitar in his own group, Fat Mattress. Mitchell remained with Hendrix for his landmark 1969 performance at Woodstock, shortly before Hendrix formed the short-lived Band Of Gypsys group with bassist Billy Cox and drummer Buddy Miles. Mitchell also performed with Hendrix at the 1967 Monterrey Pop Festival, where the guitarist exploded onto the American rock scene, following his success in England and in Europe.

But Mitchell would return to playing drums with Hendrix in his final concerts – including one I saw at Seattle’s Sicks Stadium -- before the guitarist’s own death in 1970. Mitchell also played a key role in putting together the posthumous Hendrix albums Cry Of Love and Rainbow Bridge.

"We're all devastated to hear of Mitch's passing. He was a wonderful man, a brilliant musician and a true friend," Hendrix's half sister, Janie Hendrix, said in a statement on behalf of the Hendrix estate.

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