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Jimmy Henshaw

Jimmy Henshaw passed away on the 1st May 2007.
His funeral was held at Carlisle Cathedral on the 10th May.

Links to the bands in which Jimmy played in the 60s which are featured on this site

Jimmy Henshaw was born in Bothwell in Lanarkshire, Scotland on the 20th of October 1941. He became a TV engineer and was sent to Carlisle in Cumberland (now Cumbria) in England to complete his training.

He took up the guitar and met up with the lads who were to become The Ramrods, The VIPs and the Vipps.

Check out the links above for histories of these bands.

Jimmy Henshaw is, undoubtedly, the unsung hero of British Soul/Blues/R & B. He is a successful songwriter of international repute, a fine guitarist and an accomplished keyboard player. To say Jimmy Henshaw is modest would be a gross understatement – his rise from the ashes of Carlisle’s band The Ramrods, to the stages and TV screens of Britain, France and Germany, was achieved in such a short time.

Whilst 45s and LPs of bands such as the Beatles etc. continue to clutter boxes at car boot sales or are consigned with other disposables to landfill sites, recordings of the VIPs, or VIPPs, are eagerly sought after by collectors throughout the world. Large sums of money now change hands for some of their early classics. Most of these were penned by Jimmy Henshaw himself.
In the 60s, the VIPs with their good looks and obvious musical talent, took London by storm.


Eric Burdon, a friend of Jimmy's, remarked about an incident in USA. Burdon had travelled over to visit the Apollo Harlem and took a taxi into the area.

The driver refused to go nearer the Apollo, so Burdon had to walk the final 100 yards. Halfway down the street, a young black girl was swinging round the base of a lamp post. She was singing one of Henshaw’s compositions – ‘Blue Blue Feeling’, recorded by the Animals on the ‘B’ side of their quarter million sales American hit ! Henshaw’s comment – “Hearing about that made me feel real good”.
Listen to Blue Blue Feeling on YouTube.

Jimi Hendrix debuts with
The VIPs

Jimmy Henshaw was involved in, possibly, the most sensational night in British music’s history.

The VIPs were regularly featured at The Scotch of St. James club in London. This venue was a mecca, attended only by the most influential names in the business, including elite recording artists of that time such as the Beatles. The main nights were Tuesday and Thursday.

The VIPs, as THE resident band, were on stage for their first half hour performance. Members of this impressive audience were enjoying the ‘power play’ of Henshaw on lead guitar and keyboards, the incredible Soul/Blues voice of the unequalled Mike Harrison with harmonica, the tight thumping rhythm emanating from the drums of Walter Johnstone, rhythm guitarist Frank Kenyon and bass ace Greg Ridley. Little did the surrounding talent know what was in store !

Once the interval arrived, Henshaw was approached by another good friend, Chas Chandler (of the Animals). Chas grabbed Henshaw’s arm, keeping his voice low. “I’ve got a guy with me who wishes to jam with your band”. Jimmy quickly replied “That’s OK, he can plug into my lead amp”. Henshaw knew how to build amplifiers AND how to produce a bigger output than the manufacturer’s recommendations – however, he was concerned when this strange but polite and friendly guitarist began to wind up the volume and tone controls. “My name is Jimi Hendrix. Could we start with ‘Summertime Blues’ then see how things go?”

Hendrix stepped away from the amplifier in order to stop the whistle/feedback generated, as the VIPs started up in support. Throwing back the hair from his face, then thrusting his right hand Strat strung left-handed guitar towards the crowd, Hendrix’s plectrum hit the strings! Henshaw’s amp almost lifted off its supports as it howled out the announcement that a NEW sensation had arrived on the music scene!

Hendrix asked the VIPs if they knew ‘Wild Thing’, a number in the charts by the Troggs. Henshaw points out – “At that time, we were into R&B/Soul and certainly didn’t play any songs by the Troggs. For some reason, I thought he was going to play ‘a la Troggs’. What a surprise we got when he performed his version!”

As Hendrix finished, Henshaw signalled drummer Walter to bring the first spot to a tidy end. “For what seemed like an age” reports Henshaw, “the audience sat in stunned silence”. THEN all hell let loose as they gave Jimi and the VIPs a standing ovation. Hendrix did about four numbers, finishing with an amazing fortaste of ‘Hey Joe’ ! Henshaw remembers “Jimi asked if we could play the chords of C,G,D,A,E repeatedly. The melody followed precisely that forthcoming smash hit !”

THE RACE WAS NOW ON ! Chas Chandler rang Henshaw incessantly. “We’ve got a band who are willing to back Mike Harrison. Can Jimi Hendrix link up with the VIPs ?”
Henshaw gave it a few seconds thought. “No way” he replied. The VIPs were a close-knit Carlisle band ON and OFF stage. Honest and true to each other, in for the good times as well as the bad, ALL FOR ONE AND ONE FOR ALL – it can be said. Jimi Hendrix would have to look elsewhere for his band!

Jimmy Henshaw's amp used by Jimi Hendrix can be seen in amazing detail on the "Back from the sixties" site and also can be seen in use on the "Rocking Ronnie" page of this site.