"YA'LL KNOW MR. BASS"....Stevie Ray Vaughan introducing Billy Cox as he brings him on to jam at the Grand Ole Opry House, Nashville--January 28, 1986.

New York City 1969

Experience Hendrix Tour
Nashville 3-9-12

photo by Gary Morton

Billy Cox met Jimi Hendrix when they were serving in the Army at Fort Campbell, Kentucky in 1961. Ducking into Service Club #1 to get out of a sudden rainstorm, he heard guitar playing inside. Impressed with what he heard, he introduced himself, told Jimi he played bass, and they were jamming soon after.

They became, and remained, fast friends. They left the military around the same time and they played clubs around the area, finally settling in Nashville, Tennessee.They formed a group now known to history as the King Kasuals. They did all the Nashville clubs and traveled all over the southeast and as far north as Indianapolis playing what was called the "Chitlin' Circuit" (the black club scene).

Jimi eventually left Nashville and continued to struggle all over the country until he was discovered by Chas Chandler in New York.

Chas took Jimi to England, (and the rest is history) but before Jimi left, he called Billy and asked him to go and be part of it. Billy (in his own words) "Only had three strings on my bass" and no money to travel to New York, so he thanked Jimi and wished him well.

Destiny had other plans for Billy. He continued to play, backing some of the greats in R n' B until the Jimi Hendrix Experience broke up in mid 1969. Jimi then called his old friend and Billy was there...recording in the studio, playing Woodstock (as Gypsys, Suns, and Rainbows) recording some more, playing the legendary series of shows  with Jimi and Buddy Miles as the Band of Gypsys, and performing and recording solidly through the year 1970.

After Jimi's death Billy played for a time with the Charlie Daniels Band. Following that he continued to do sessions and club dates.

I met Billy in 1985 and several months later co-produced a Hendrix tribute in a local club where we showed rare video and had some live music. I asked him if he would come so I could introduce him to the crowd. he asked, "I don't have to play do I ?" "Just be there as my special guest," I told him. He not only showed up, he brought his bass, a guitar player, and Fred Edwards the drummer from his days with Charlie Daniels. I said to him, "I didn't think you were going to play!" to which he replied, " I couldn't let you down Dave."

He got such a positive reaction from the people that he put together a group with Gary Serkin on guitar and various singers and called it Gypsy Suns and Rainbows.

In 1986 I introduced Billy to Stevie Ray Vaughan. I sat on the front row of the empty auditorium and watched them rehearse "Come On Pt. 1" and "Voodoo Child" (Slight Return). That night they brought the house down. Stevie was humble and thrilled to be working with one of HIS heroes. He later confided to me that, that night was the highlight of the entire tour for him.

Billy Cox later reunited with Experience drummer Mitch Mitchell, and guitarist Gary Serkin and did a series of shows under the name Gypsy Sun Experience.

In 2000 the Cort company released the Billy Cox "Freedom" model bass.

On October 12, 2009, Billy Cox was inducted into the Musician's Hall of Fame in ceremonies at Nashville's Schermerhorn Symphony Center. Click HERE to see and hear Billy's acceptance speech.


Billy and his
Musician's Hall of Fame Award
October 12, 2009

Billy's Musicians Hall of Fame Tribute Video

In ceremonies held October 9, 2010 Billy Cox was presented with the prestigious Founder's award by the Experience Music Project ( EMP) Museum in Seattle. The award is given annually to artists who have made outstanding contributions to popular music and Billy was recognized for his work preserving and celebrating the legacy of Jimi Hendrix.

EMP board member
Mike Malone, Billy & EMP
founder Paul Allen

Q&A with the students
at the EMP Rock
Band Camp

Billy receiving the
Founder's Award
from Paul Allen

Photos above courtesy of Experience Music Project

In ceremonies held October 15, 2011 at The Culture Center Theater in Charleston, West Virginia, Billy Cox was inducted into the West Virginia Music Hall of Fame.

Billy accepting
the award

Billy receives award
from Janie Hendrix

Billy performing
with his band

Photos above courtesy of West Virginia Music Hall of Fame

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