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Jimi and John

Jimi Hendrix – Electric Religion and

John Coltrane Music and Spirituality

Two essays by San Francisco musician Keith Dion

Jimi Hendrix – Electric Religion

“We want our sound to go into the soul of the audience, and see if it can awaken some little thing in their minds... because there are so many sleeping people. I believe you live and live again until you have got all the evil and hatred out of your soul.”

"Electric Church" was a belief held by Jimi Hendrix and his followers that electric music - like that of his group The Jimi Hendrix Experience - brings out emotions, feelings and ideas in people, encourages spiritual growth and maturity, and can even help heal the souls and minds of individuals.

Taken to another level, Hendrix along with John Coltrane, believed that music and the audio sound waves it produced could actually touch the souls of people and provide healing to their lives. The influence Hendrix’s music had on people continues to be truly universal and spiritual. Jimi Hendrix considered "Electric Church" his religion, and during and continuing after his life, his music and his persona have taken on a uniquely spiritual, cult-like aura with millions of followers all over the world, a following that seems to grow exponentially with each coming generation.


Jimi Hendrix: I believed in myself more than anything. And, I suppose in a way, that’s also believing in God. If there is a God and He made you, then if you believe in yourself, you’re also believing in Him. That doesn’t mean you’ve got to believe in heaven and hell and all that stuff. But it does mean that what you are and what you do is your religion… When I get up on stage— that’s my whole life. That’s my religion. My music is electric church music, if by ‘Church’ you mean ‘Religion’, I am electric religion.



According to Hendrix, once one finds one’s true self, everything else falls into place – as evidenced by many of Jimi’s lyrics such as found in his "Message to Love" from 1969:


Well I am what I am, thank God

Some people just don't understand

Find yourself first

And then your tools

Find yourself first

Don't you be no fool


Hendrix really thought music was the answer to anything and everything from religion to politics to spirituality to love to race relations.


Jimi Hendrix: We try to make our music so hard hitting that it hits your soul hard enough to make it open. It’s like shock therapy. You try and hypnotize people to where they can go right back into their original and natural state, which is purely positive – like childhood. And when they come down off this natural high they see clearer, feel different things. It’s all spiritual.


Hendrix is positive you can do this with the right attitude. It is believed that what he was saying to us is that he never wanted to lose or let go of the innocence of being a child, of searching for meaning and transformation through music and art, and when he got there, his wish was to share his discoveries with the entire world, healing it of its immersion in gross materialism and violence. Sending one back to being a child is not seen as a regression, but as a letting go of the baggage and negativity we accumulates during all of our adult lives.


As a musician’s musician, Hendrix not only had immense talent, charisma, tenacity, and vitality, but a massive international audience with which to share it with. Something which shines throughout all of his music. It is that passionate love Hendrix had for his musical message that has inspired each coming generation and which became for him and his followers a religion or cult with himself as the High Priest, leading the way, as he wrote in a concert program for his 1969 Royal Albert Hall concerts:


Jimi Hendrix: When I was a little boy, I believed in the tooth fairy. Now, I believed in myself more than anything. And, I suppose in a way, that’s also believing in God. This means that what you are and what you do is your religion. I can’t express myself in easy conversation-the words just don’t come out right. But when I get up on stage-well, that’s my whole life. I am electric religion.


This message resonates through many of his songs, which feature wry religious and spiritual references encapsulated in Hendrix’s never ending search for love and peace. His "Earth Blues" from 1969 with its gospel like call and response evokes the earthiness of this Electric Church music.   


Earth Blues


Sometimes my imagination takes me by surprise

A queen of ebony in chains I visualize

And back on the moon I see her portrait in a tomb

And these words are written, First woman from God’s womb


I see fingers, hands and shades of faces,

Reaching up and not quite touching the Promised Land

I hear pleas and prayers and a desperate whisper saying

Oh, Lord, please give us a helping hand


In "Earth Blues," love – and women - according to Hendrix, in spite of being the first part of God’s creation, are currently in chains, far away, near death. But when love is found again, that is the promised land, where tears are wiped away for good and true healing begins.


People are hurt and what they need is the shining light of love.F or Hendrix, love— which he continually personifies as a woman or as the Divine Feminine— is the answer to all things, his savior and his true life’s goal. A theme found not just in "Earth Blues," but in many of his songs – "Little Wing," May This Be Love, Angel, Message to Love, Have You Ever Been to Electric Lady Land and Drifting just to name a few. "Earth Blues" again, and then "Angel" personifies love and woman as the answer and his true savior – the Divine Feminine:


Earth Blues


Love, Love, Love

Out of the mountains stands a woman.

Love, Love, Love

 I feel her shining light

Love, Love, Love

Love must be the answer.



Angel came down from heaven yesterday

She stayed with me just long enough to rescue me

And she told me a story yesterday

About the sweet love between the moon and the deep blue sea

And then she spread her wings high over me

She said she's going to come back come back tomorrow


And I said, Fly on my sweet angel

Fly on through the sky

Fly on my sweet angel

Tomorrow I'm going to be by your side


On to "Message to Love," he not only sees woman again as the savior but also uses the lyrics as one of the first mainstream songs to champion women’s rights and recognizes women as mankind’s equal:


Message to Love


Here comes a woman

Wrapped up in chains

Messing with that fool babe

Your life is pain

If you want to be free

Come along with me


Don't mess with the man

He'll never understand

I said find yourself first

And then your talent


Work hard in your mind

So if you come alive

You better prove to the man

You're as strong as him


I said the message of love

Don't you run away

Look at your heart

Come along with me today


Also as a first, Hendrix uses the lyrics of one of his last compositions – "Belly Button Window" - to address reincarnation and the topic of abortion, and women’s rights to choose their own reproduction decisions. All told from the unique perspective of a child in the womb. Neither judgmental, pro or con, one way or another, this perspective from the spirit in the womb is one of nonchalance – take me or leave me, I’ll be back again, as the spirit of life will continue as it always has and will do, regardless of what happens to our young narrator in the end.


Belly Button Window 

Well I'm up here in this womb

I'm looking all around

Well, I'm looking out my belly button window

And all I see is a whole lot of frowns

And I'm wondering if they just don't want me around


What seems to be the fuss out there?

Just what seems to be the hang?

Cause you know if you don't want me this time around,

I'll be glad to go back to spirit land


So if you don't want me now,

 Make up your mind, where or when

 If you don't want me now,

 Give or take, you only got two hundred days

 Cause I ain't coming down this way too much more again


Jimi Hendrix: The blues are easy to play but not to feel. The background to our music is a spiritual-blues thing. Blues is a part of America. We're making our music into Electric church music—a new kind of Bible, not like the book you find in a hotel, but a Bible you carry in your hearts, one that will give you a physical feeling. We want them to realize that our music is just as spiritual as going to church.


We again go back to "Earth Blues" for references to redemption in the eyes of God


Well, I see hands and I see tear-stained faces,

Reaching up, not quite touching the promise land.

Well, I taste tears and precious years wasted,

Saying, Lord please send us a helping hand.


And again to "Angel" for spiritual transformation and final salvation by the Divine Feminine Spirit


Sure enough this morning came unto me

 Silver wings silhouetted against the child's sunrise

 And my angel she said unto me

 Today is the day for you to rise

 Take my hand, you're going to be my man

 You're going to rise

 And then she took me high over yonder


 And I said, Fly on my sweet angel

 Fly on through the sky

 Fly on my sweet angel

 Forever I will be by your side


Reincarnation, ancient African mysticism, and journeying to a better life well beyond this world are addressed in several of Jimi’s most famous compositions, such as "Voodoo Chile (slight return)" where he promises to meet us all in the Next World - and Don’t Be Late, after apologizing for Taking up all of our sweet time, and up next with" Have You Ever Been (To Electric Lady Land)," with lyrics telling of an imagined journey to an otherworldly realm where Electric Love penetrates the Sky.


Voodoo Chile (slight Return)


I didn't mean to take up all your sweet time

I'll give it right back to you one of these days

 I didn't mean to take up all your sweet time

I'll give it right back to you one of these days

If I don't see you no more in this world

Then I'll meet you in the next one

And don't be late

Don't be late

Because I’m a Voodoo Chile, Voodoo Chile

Lord knows I’m a Voodoo Chile


The occult writer Francis King has suggested that Hendrix dedicated "Voodoo Chile" to Akonidi Hini – the feminine Ghanain occultist and one time President of the African Psychic and Traditional Healers Association.* Possession is the highest aim of the Voodoo ceremony, to the point that rather than communicating with God, one becomes God. This is the central part of the song where Jimi manifests  himself, like a cosmic force who can travel in both the physical the psychic plane, through time and space. Perform Godlike magical and supernatural acts such as found in the first verse:

Well, I stand up next to a mountain

And I chop it down with the edge of my hand

Well, I stand up next to a mountain

And I chop it down with the edge of my hand

Well, I pick up all the pieces and make an island

Might even raise a little sand


Renowned African percussionist Rocky Dzidzournu who jammed frequently with Jimi, The Rolling Stones, Traffic and Nick Drake amongst others during the late 1960’s told Jimi that the beats and rhythms that Jimi used were the exact beats he remembered from the Voodoo ceremonies he witnessed as a child back in Ghana, with Jimi as the Root Doctor, revered for the spirit within himself, a conjuror of electricity in the service of music, art and mankind. A Magic Boy, conjuring up Electric Religion.


In "Have You Ever Been (To Electric Lady Land)" the lyrics tell of an imagined journey to another otherworldly realm, with its references to a flight on a Magic Carpet over the Love Filled Seas, while promising that the final destination will introduce the fellow passengers or listeners to Angels who will spread their wings, while Electric Love will penetrate the sky, with Good and Evil laying side by side. The lyrical content of the track, as well as the entire double album which bears its title, is another telling example of compositions to be inspired by Hendrix's infatuation with, and love for women, and belief in the Divine Feminine as a vehicle for his spiritual and physical salvation.



Have You Ever Been (To Electric Lady Land)


Have you ever been - have you ever been to Electric Lady land?

The magic carpet waits for you so don't you be late

I want to show you the different emotions

I want to run to the sounds and motions

Electric woman waits for you and me

So it's time we take a ride, we can cast our hang-ups over the side

While we fly right over the love filled sea

Look up ahead, I see the love land, soon you'll understand


I want to show you - The angels will spread their wings

I want to show you - Good and evil lay side by side

While electric love penetrates the sky

I want to show you Lord I want to show you

I want to show you, I want to show you


 Indeed, there is a deep, well known and common connection between spirituality and music believed throughout the years by many schools of thought, encapsulated succinctly in the quote by renowned French anthropologist and ethnologist Claude Levi Strauss:


Since music is the only language with contradictory attributes at once intelligible and untranslatable, the musical creator is a being comparable to the gods, and music itself the supreme mystery of the science of man - Claude Levi Strauss.


Through his incredible cultural and international commercial breakthroughs, Jimi Hendrix took on worldly powers, preaching love and peace, against the cosmic and human forces presiding over the world’s continued darkness of greed, evil and racial and gender inequality. Jimi’s Electric Religion was his answer. The world should continue to remember this musical genius, with his core beliefs of the rejection of violence, war, prejudice and materialism in the world, and that music – above all other art forms - does have the power to heal and change the world. If only the sleeping people will start to listen.  


Song Notes:

“Little Wing,” one of his most beloved tunes, combines the emotional firepower of “Hey Joe” and “The Wind Cries Mary” into a fairytale world of “butterflies and zebras,” where you can ride the wind and a magical woman fixes all sadness.

In "Castles Made of Sand" – he writes, “Castles made of sand melting into the sea” is nothing but a reminder to embrace all that you love before it’s gone. Because time will get us all in the end.

In Axis: Bold as Love – An album of wonder, of abstract and otherworldly images and the sort of emotional epiphanies discovered at the end of a psychedelic trip -- all spoken in color, love and sparkling guitar riffs.

Eddie Kramer – Jimi’s long time recording engineer: Jimi was a respectful man. He was conscious of the universe and was always a champion of women and women's rights. He was ahead of the game in support of the movement."

Fittingly, Jimi’s recordings are now in the Library of Congress' National Recording Registry in recognition of their cultural significance to America and the world.

Are You Experienced will be remembered for its blazing psychedelia, a sound and musical movement that Hendrix would later refer to as his religion, his Electric Church, making his debut release, Are You Experienced, his Book of Genesis, and Axis: Bold as Love and Electric Ladyland as the 2nd and 3rd testaments


All Lyrics by Jimi Hendrix – C + P Experience Hendrix LLC

Keith Dion with inspiration from Caroluna

Images by Monika Dannemann

C + P 2019 by Keith Dion for 3:05 AM Music, Books and Film Ltd


John Coltrane – Parallel Beliefs in Music as a Healing Force,

and as a Source of Intense Mystical Spirituality


John Coltrane also thought of and had similar beliefs to Jimi Hendrix, actually predating Hendrix’s immense commercial breakthrough. With Hendrix’s incredibly talented jazz-rock drummer Mitch Mitchell idolizing Coltrane’s drummer Elvin Jones, it’s certain to say that Mitchell and Hendrix regularly listened to the Classic John Coltrane Quartet’s recordings for inspiration. Coltrane's spiritual journey was interwoven with his investigation of world music. He believed in not only a universal musical structure that transcended ethnic and genre distinctions, but also being able to harness the mystical language of music itself.

Coltrane's study of Indian music led him to believe - similarly to Hendrix - that certain sounds and scales could produce specific emotional meanings. According to Coltrane, the goal of a musician was to understand these forces, control them, and elicit responses from the audience. Coltrane said: "I would like to bring to people something like happiness. I would like to discover a method that if I want it to rain, I could play a song and it will start to rain right away. If one of my friends is ill, I'd like to play a certain song and he will be cured; if he were broke, I'd bring out a different song and immediately he'd receive all the money he needed.” 

After Coltrane’s masterpiece - A Love Supreme - many of the titles of Coltrane's songs and albums were linked to spiritual matters: Ascension, Meditations, Om, Selflessness, Amen, Ascent, Attaining, Dear Lord, Prayer and Meditation Suite, and The Father and the Son and the Holy Ghost. Though never studying per say with any type of “Guru” or Spiritual Master, Coltrane's study and collection of books included The Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna, the Bhagavad Gita, the Bible and Paramahansa Yogananda's Autobiography of a Yogi. Like Jimi Hendrix, they both didn’t really need “Gurus”, as they were of course both musical Gurus themselves, and continue to be to this day, posthumously. 

The last of these book titles – The Autobiography of a Yogi - describes in a continuous search for universal truth, a journey that Coltrane had also undertaken. Yogananda believed that both Eastern and Western spiritual paths were efficacious, and wrote of the similarities between Krishna and Christ. This openness to different traditions resonated with Coltrane, who also studied the Quran, the Bible, the Kabbalah, and astrology with equal sincerity. He also explored Hinduism, Jiddu Krishnamurti, African history, the philosophical teachings of Plato and Aristotle, Christianity and Zen Buddhism.

In October 1965, Coltrane recorded Om, referring to the sacred syllable in Hinduism, which symbolizes the infinite or the entire Universe. Coltrane described Om as the "first syllable, the primal word, the word of power". This 29-minute recording contains chants from the Hindu Bhagavad Gita and the Buddhist Tibetan Book of the Dead, and a recitation of a passage describing the primal verbalization "Om" as a cosmic/spiritual common denominator in all things.

John Coltrane - Once you become aware of this force for unity in life, you can't ever forget it. I think music is an instrument. It can create the initial thought patterns that can change the thinking of the people. It's important to have real contact with an audience because that's what we’re trying to do - communicate.

There are many schools of thought that, like other major jazz players from the early 1960’s – Dizzy Gillespie, Thelonious Monk, Ornette Coleman and Archie Shepp - that Coltrane had also experimented with the then still legal, LSD to further his inward spiritual examinations. The superb book,  “Ascension: John Coltrane and His Quest” by Eric Nisenson expands on this with direct quotes from Coltrane’s musical peers and personal friends. 

Alice Coltrane by Lee Santa   John Coltrane – Photo by JP Jazz Archives / Redferns  

   From Ascension John Coltrane and His Quest – by Eric Nisenson – St. Martin’s Press October 1993 

At the core of Coltrane’s spiritual awakening, he became a man obsessed, reading voraciously all manner of texts that helped him advance along his spiritual quest. Coltrane’s view of God was anything but narrow: he studied both Eastern and Western religions, and took LSD for spiritual insight.

Coltrane began using LSD fairly regularly some time in 1965. Although it has been stated that he only used it during the recording of the Om album later that year, he actually took it far more often during the last few years of his life, according to a number of people, including a member of his classic Quarter, all of whom mysteriously requested not to be quoted on the record on this, but were all too willing to go public on Coltrane’s well known, previous problems with overcoming severe heroin and alcohol abuse during his lifetime.

Miles Davis – did however go on the record with the author – saying that “Coltrane died from taking too much LSD”. He did not mean that in the literal sense of course, but rather in terms of the music of the last few years of his life. For Coltrane and his spiritual quest, LSD was a remarkable tool to dig deeper into his own being so he could discover the essential and absolute truth at the center of his being.

Coltrane’s LSD experiences confirmed spiritual insights he has already discovered rather than radically changing his overall perspective. After one early LSD trip Coltrane was quoted as saying “I perceived the interrelationships of all life forms”.

Coltrane’s incredible drummer, the legendary Elvin Jones, in an interview after Coltrane’s death said that “he’d felt he had been touched by something supernatural when he was playing in the Classic John Coltrane Quartet, so angelic was Coltrane’s treatment of other people as well as his ability to produce music of an unworldly plane.”

 And from Tony Whyton’s Beyond a Love Supreme, OUP Books 2013:

“From 1965 to his death in 1967, Coltrane was certainly performing under the influence of LSD. By using LSD, Coltrane moved closer to Eastern mysticism and embraced the spirit of experimentation at the time … With the use of a drug such as LSD, Coltrane could be carried beyond his physical being in quest to become disembodied, fusing his sound with nature.”

After his untimely death in 1967, his wife and band pianist Alice Coltrane experienced a period of immense trial. She suffered from severe weight loss, sleepless nights, and hallucinations, leading her to seek spiritual guidance from Indian gurus Swami Satchidinanda and later Sathya Sai Baba. But ultimately she prevailed, and continued to forward John’s musical and spiritual vision, releasing thirteen full-length records as a composer, classical harpist and bandleader on her own.

Many of these recordings were made with members of John’s later era groups including Pharoah Sanders and Rashied Ali, all being augmented by Indian classical musicians. As the years passed, her musical direction moved even further into the more cosmic and spiritual world. Albums like 1970’s spectacular Journey in Satchidananda, Universal Consciousness (1971), and World Galaxy (1972), show a progression to a more orchestral but still Indian World Music approach, with lush string arrangements and cascading harps presenting a trance like other worldly spirituality.  

John Coltrane was granted Sainthood by the African Orthodox Church in 1981 

The Church of John Coltrane – San Francisco CA - History of the Saint John Coltrane Church 

The Church of John Coltrane in San Francisco CA was founded by His Eminence The Most Reverend Archbishop F. W. King D.D. and Supreme Mother Rev. Marina King, Co-Founder of the Sisters of Compassion, when John Coltrane was granted Sainthood by The African Orthodox Church in 1981.  

In 1974 the Kings met Alice Coltrane and were moved under her leadership. They began to think of John Coltrane's message in the context of spiritual universalism and to understand how John Coltrane was trying to reach souls even outside of the western Christian context. They began an understanding,  of John Coltrane coming to all of us in the spirit of the Holy Ghost, as Blue Krishna, and as a Sufi mystic. They had originally founded the One Mind Temple which became a center for eastern spirituality and became the founding officers of the Vedantic Center. Here they studied and meditated on all the great spiritual teachings of the world as John Coltrane had done. During these Vedantic Center years, they learned to appreciate the truths of all religions and how John Coltrane's sacred music – like all sacred music forms - could transcend language, race, genre, religions and cultural barriers. 

In 1981 Archbishop Hinkson of the African Orthodox Church in Chicago sent an emissary, Bishop Ajari, to San Francisco to invite the One Mind Temple - Vedantic Center congregation to join with the African Orthodox Church. The African Orthodox Church was founded in 1921 by Marcus Garvey, under the belief that black Episcopalians should have a denomination of their own. Under the tutelage of Archbishop Hinkson, Archbishop King would be consecrated in 1984 as a Bishop. The church briefly become known as the One Mind Temple Missionary Episcopate of the African Orthodox Church. Upon the granting of sainthood for John Coltrane, the church would now become the Saint John Will-I-Am Coltrane African Orthodox Church where they have continued to evolve as a religious, cultural, and political force in the community of San Francisco celebrating the music of John Coltrane to this day.


Keith Dion - with Inspiration from Caroluna

C + P 3:05 AM Music, Books and Film Ltd.

June 20th, 2019

Further Notes on Coltrane’s spiritual quest and his use of LSD during the mid - 1960’s:

Showbiz Imagery and Forgotten History

John Coltrane became spiritual after his first acid doses in 1965-66. He kicked his crippling opiate habit after LSD reset his brain. With a new lease on life, Coltrane started performing religious-themed jazz music and it is said that his holy LSD experiences were the basis for his next big album – A Love Supreme. 

Donald Garrett, a jazz bassist and clarinetist, was among those who did LSD with John Coltrane. It was autumn 1965 in Seattle. “There, they had taken LSD before recording an album.” wrote J.C. Thomas. “The pervasive influence of ingesting acid may have produced the eerie, mystical vibrations that emanated from their recording of Om, which included, in addition to some of the freest and strangest music Coltrane ever recorded, the chanting of selected verses from Bhagavad-Gita. And when Trane returned from his LSD trip, he said, as if quoting a Sufi safe, ‘I perceived the interrelationship of all life forms.”

Back to the Trip Guide.

Jazz musicians had given marijuana to the beats, and now the beats were turning the jazz cats on to psychedelics. Word of the new drugs spread quickly through the jazz scene, and numerous musicians, including many of the preeminent players in the field, experimented with psychedelics in the early l960s. John Coltrane, the acknowledged master of the tenor and soprano saxophones, took LSD and reported upon returning from his inner voyage that he "perceived the inter-relationship of all life forms." 

An excerpt from Acid Dreams: The Complete Social History of LSD: The CIA, the Sixties and Beyond, by Martin A. Lee and Bruce Shlain (Grove Press) Copyright 1985 by Martin A. Lee and Bruce Shlain

Lewis Porter: John Coltrane: His Life and Music

Book by Lewis Porter: the book has been endorsed by Coltrane's son Ravi Coltrane

“Trane took acid. No doubt about it,” shrugs his biographer Lewis Porter. “Plenty of people talked to me about his heroin and alcohol use, though all four who talked to me confirming his acid experience wanted it off the record. I don’t know why that’s so scary. JC Thomas, author of Chasin’ The Trane, the first published book-length biography, wrote that he was tripping either at the time or around the time that he recorded Om on October 6th, 1965. Apparently he did a lot of LSD during the last period of his life. Some people have used that against him – that explains why his later music is so crazy. But that’s one of the reasons I wanted to analyze “Venus”, from Interstellar Space, recorded 22 February 1967, in my last chapter. Coltrane was too accomplished a musician for all his history to disappear.”

For more information go to:


QUIZ on Our Favorite Authors’ Work

This issue's featured writer: T.C. Boyle
(No fair googling.)

  1. 1. What T.C. Boyle novel extols “Mystic Eyes”?
  2. 2. Name the novel which featured Mill Valley, CA?
  3. 3. Which novel gives a real buzz? (Not from LSD.)
  4. 4. In which novel does a dog get petnapped by Wile E. Coyote?
5. Which of his novels contain the most asterisks?



Antelope Canyon, AZ Scott Roberts, Scott of the World photography. See more at,

HOME| THE LITERARY LATTÉ - Stories, Memoirs | ON MY NIGHTSTAND - Books Reviewed |POETRY REVIEW | THE SCENE - Lit Events | JEB & ARTWORK | SALON - Interviews, Submissions, About



Jimi Hendrix images by Monika Dannemann.

Sidebar and bottom photo: Scott Roberts -,

Abbey Road ad mockup by Volkswagen Sverige.*

Side images and photo by Scott Roberts

Author photos, this issue, from the authors.

Uncredited photos by J. Macon King.

* Volkswagen Sweden has taken the unusual step of "fixing" the Abbey Road album cover so the VW Beetle in the background is parked properly. It's for laughs, but it's also to promote the automaker's Park Assist technology.


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