Jimi Hendrix drummer found dead

Mitch Mitchell was touring with Experience

Mitch Mitchell, whose powerful drumming anchored the Jimi Hendrix Experience from "Are You Experienced?" through Woodstock, was found dead early Wednesday in a Portland, Ore., hotel room. He was 61.

After completing the Experience Hendrix tour Friday in Portland with one-time bandmate Billy Cox and many other musicians, Mitchell was spending some down time before returning to his native England. He likely died of natural causes, according to the Multnomah County Medical Examiner's office.

John "Mitch" Mitchell was the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame trio's last surviving member. Jimi Hendrix died in 1970 and bassist Noel Redding in 2003.

"We're all devastated to hear of Mitch's passing," Experience Hendrix CEO Janie Hendrix said. "He was a wonderful man, a brilliant musician and a true friend. His role in shaping the sound of the Jimi Hendrix Experience cannot be underestimated."

Mitchell joined the pioneering band in 1966 and with staffed the formidable rhythm section supporting Hendrix's era-defining guitar work. He played on the classic albums "Are You Experienced?" "Axis: Bold as Love" and "Electric Ladyland," all of which ranked among Rolling Stone's 100 greatest discs of all time.

His formidable stick work stood out on such incendiary tracks as "Fire," "Crosstown Traffic," "Manic Depression" and the top 20 pop single "All Along the Watchtower."

Mitchell remained with Hendrix through the Experience's first breakup in mid-1969, playing with him during the artist's iconic Woodstock performance.

By year's end, Hendrix had formed Band of Gypsys with bassist Billy Cox and drummer Buddy Miles, though that band split in early 1970, giving way to a brief reunion of the original Experience.

Afterward, Mitchell helped producer Eddie Kramer assemble the albums "Cry of Love" and "Rainbow Bridge," featuring unfinished Hendrix material. He played occasional gigs with Terry Reid, Jeff Bruce and Jeff Beck, but he rarely recorded as his career went on.

Mitchell got his start in show business as a child actor on the British TV series "Jennings at School." He is survived by his mother, his wife, a daughter and two grandchildren.

THR's Erik Pedersen in Los Angeles and the Associated Press contributed to this report.
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