An abusive mother and an absent father ripped Nancy’s childhood out from under her. But what about adolescence? One might think that a close friendship with a wildly creative rock star super-hero and co-conspirator while she was still in her teens would have been enough to prolong Nancy’s adolescence indefinitely. And one can imagine that with maximum opportunities for indulgence of every kind, it could easily have lead to the same tragic outcome for Nancy that befell Jimi in London. She was only, after all, barely 20. But Nancy was mature beyond her years, and even if the studio theatrics of a friend and famous rock icon screamed “wild oats” like no other, Nancy would have nothing of it, and her disgust was almost parental!
I hadn’t even noticed her there. A gelatinous heap lying on the leather couch in the control room.
She must have come in when I wasn’t paying attention to that area of the studio.
She wasn’t sleeping, but she wasn’t anything near alert or mentally acute.
I had begun to see girls like her around lately. They were far different from the cute little ‘pixies’ that I had first noticed just a few years ago.
There was no joy, no energy, no freshness. A new breed of girls had shown up. Unkempt, lost and discretion-less.
I heard no music and thought, even though I had been there less than a half hour, that I might want to leave.
Then I heard some sounds coming over the speakers. I thought maybe something creative was going to happen. Perhaps I would feel a spark of inspiration. So I stayed.
That’s when I knew what I was hearing over the speakers in the control room was coming from the studio bathroom.
There were two men’s voices, both of whom I recognized, and a female voice who I assumed was the girl I had just seen leaving the control room.
I heard the rattle of porcelain, which sounded like the top of the toilet tank.
‘I should leave now’ I thought. But I didn’t.
I was transfixed.
The oddness of hearing the girl’s voice say ‘Please be gentle’ really rocked me.
It was so out of place.
It was a ‘wedding night’ remark.
She was awake and willing. There were no protests. No sounds of force.
The first act took place without sound, except for one quick voice at the end.
The second act was voiceless, the only sound being the porcelain.
It was over in no time.
My eyes didn’t register any people for a while.. For a few moments I was just in my own thoughts.
Then there was a flash of color moving around me. Jimi’s clothes.
Jimi: ‘I’m sorry you had to hear that, Nancy.’
He wasn’t being sincere, and I knew it. But I had stayed, so it wasn’t his fault that I heard it.
Nancy: ‘That’s alright Jimi, I learned something.’
I was being sincere, but I felt so ‘righteous’ like I was judging someone, but I wasn’t. I really did learn something.
After a momentary silence, Jimi said ‘But you don’t understand. She wasn’t a real girl.’
Now I understood what Jimi meant. I had seen the girl and I knew what he meant. But it wasn’t valid. It had no merit.
Nancy: ‘But you didn’t try to help her be one.’
Silence. The truth. We had skirted around the truth and finally got there.
There was nothing left to say. And we said nothing else.
It wasn’t the act, or acts. It was the waste. The waste of time, of talent, of experience, of self-respect. Of money. It was studio time.
But it was more than that.
And you know, I’ll bet this went on many more times than I can count on my fingers and toes, but this was now. That was then.
I felt like I just watched van Gogh cut off his ear.
And because of the creative atrophy that I was feeling, I could feel it in Jimi too.
But he wasn’t just smashing his guitar this time, he was smashing the whole process.
And it was very sad.
It must have been some spiritual kind of morphine that kicked in, that kept me from remembering at that time, that Jimi had invited me into that bathroom earlier in the evening.
He had stood with me under an arch that separated the control room from a hallway, where the bathroom was.
And he had asked me.
And I had said no.
Joe, the limo driver, gave me a lift home.
Jimi drove his royal blue metallic corvette home.
We saw each other once again at a stoplight, through our car windows.
We looked at each other. Then the light changed.
And we went different ways.
The right to be treated like a real girl! Nancy’s truth was not shared by her iconic friend, though they shared so much else.
Whatever else this scene might convey to you, it should anyway lay to rest any question about Nancy’s own status as possibly one among the many live sex toys laying around Jimi Hendrix’ studio. Nancy hadn’t skipped adolescence so much as experienced a different kind.