High Society – Hendrix & Chong’s hidden history

Back in 1962, Tommy Chong and Jimmy Hendrix both played guitar together for ten days in a band called “Bobby Taylor and the Vancouvers”. DML interviews eyewitness Portland Al at his music store on 3rd and Main. Also included are some Jimmy clips and early photos of Jimmy and Tommy, a joke Tommy made at the Marijuanalogues, and a duet with Tommy and Bobby Taylor at Taylor’s birthday party.

Thanks to “Cheerful” for the bootleg Chong.

Clips of Jimmy from:

“Jimmy Hendrix” – Joe Boyd, 1999, Warner Brothers

“Hendrix – Band of Gypsys – Live at the Fillmore east” – Bob Smeaton, 1999

Other information:

“Hendrix met little Richard in 1962 during a stay in Vancouver, when he was playing with a popular local outfit called “The Vancouvers”, led by one Bobby Taylor. Taylor was to brush against major success three times in his career without ever attaining it for himself. His partner in The Vancouvers was a Chinese-American singer named Tommy Chong, who later dumped music for comedy and teamed up with “Cheech” Marin as the suprisingly durable duo Cheech & Chong.”

– “Crosstown Traffic – Jimmy Hendrix and post-war pop”, Charles Shaar Murray, 1989, p.39

Bobby Taylor & Vancouvers (Click for picture sleeve) (Click for early photo – with Tommy Chong!)
Does Your Mama Know About Me
I’m Your Man




O: You were then in a band [Bobby Taylor & The Vancouvers] that was signed to Motown, right?

TC: Yeah, we were discovered by The Supremes. Diana Ross saw us and called up Berry Gordy, and he flew to Canada to see us play. He was seeing Diana Ross at the time, so he was pretty much using it as an excuse to be with her. And then we had a hit with “Does Your Mama Know About Me,” and that led to other hits as well, but after a while, I just got sick of it and I quit. When Berry Gordy found out I had quit the band, he called me up and tried to get me to come back, but I said no. I had moved on and wanted to try different things.

O: Was it difficult to turn down a guy like Berry Gordy?

TC: No, it really wasn’t, because I was never in it for the money. I’ve never been in it for the money. And then, when I was back in Canada, I started doing shows at a topless bar. I’d write skits for the topless women, and gradually I started performing myself. And then I met Cheech in 1971, and we moved to California and became a team.

O: You were signed to Motown around the same time as Neil Young and Rick James. Did you ever meet them?

TC: No, but one time I was playing in London, and Jimi Hendrix sat in with us. We were doing a show, and he came up and said, “Tommy, do you mind if I sit in?” And then he sat in and played bass.

O: Was he a good bass player?

TC: Not really, and our bass player was kind of upset because he wasn’t able to play with Jimi Hendrix. He was really bummed. And it’s weird: When we were coming home, sort of out of nowhere I just said to my bandmates, “Someday I’m going to be bigger than Jimi Hendrix.” And I didn’t know if it was as a musician or a comedian that I’d do it, but sure enough, after I teamed up with Cheech, we really did become bigger than Hendrix.


In December of 1962 Jimi moved to Vancouver to stay with his grandmother and joined a popular R&B band in the area called Bobbie Taylor and the Vancouvers. One of the singers in the band was Tommy Chong of Cheech and Chong fame. In the Spring of 1963 Jimi returned to the South to Mississippi and was hired to play dates with Slim Harpo and Tommy Tucker who wrote “High Heel Sneakers”. Jimi was part of their backing band and got his first taste of the Chitlin’ Circuit.


Bobby Taylor & The Vancouvers (members Bobby Taylor, Wes Henderson, Ted Lewis, Eddie Patterson, Robbie King (born ? – died 17-September-2003 in Vancouver, Canada – cause throat cancer) and Tommy Chong (later to have fame as one half of the well documented comedy / recording duo Cheech & Chong)) an interracial sextet based in Vancouver, Canada. Jimi Hendrix working as an R & B sideman joined the group in December-1962 until he met up with and left with Little Richard.