Legal name: Curtis McNear
Curtis Knight (May 9, 1929 – November 29, 1999), born Mont Curtis McNear, was an American musician who is known for his connection to Jimi Hendrix.
Knight was an artist in the 1960s Harlem music scene, usually fronting his own band, the Squires. This band gigged in clubs in New York City, and other surrounding areas. It was through Knight that Hendrix got involved with Ed Chalpin, a record producer who signed the future superstar to a contract which Hendrix soon forgot about and left for England to form the Jimi Hendrix Experience.
Both Knight and Chalpin would later claim that they were trying to make Hendrix a star, which has some validity as his first label credit was on the first single he recorded with Knight as "arranger", and the second single (both sides instrumentals) had him as co-composer with the producer Jerry Simon (a common financial ploy at the time to recompense the producer). Chalpin had him sign a contract that gave Hendrix 1% of any royalties that his recordings earned. Which was actually very favourable in comparison to the percentage the individual members of the Beatles and the Who were getting at that time, apart from the fact that neither of the two records sold much. The sum of "one dollar" in the contract was merely a formalised legality common to most artist contracts at that time,. Meanwhile, Chas Chandler, who when tipped off by Rolling Stone Keith Richards' girlfriend, Linda Keith, (who had recognised his genius and was trying to find someone to further his career), took along his then manager (soon to be business partner/co-manager) Mike Jeffery, and "discovered" Hendrix in Greenwich Village while he was fronting his first band 'The Blue Flames'. It was only after Chalpin read music trade papers that he realized that Hendrix had made it successfully across the Atlantic in the psychedelic and flower power period, and began to pursue legal action against Hendrix, his management and record companies, with Knight as his main witness.
During the legal battles, Chalpin released some of his Hendrix records:
Some of these tracks were actually recorded during a "jam session" that occurred after Hendrix gave Knight a call and then visited him in 1967 between the Monterey Pop Festival and the Monkees tour that the Experience participated in. All songs from this session were released with pictures of Hendrix that were post-Squires, and stated that Knight played a big part in Hendrix's style.
These tracks were used on a CD/LP release entitled The Summer of Love Sessions. :.
During the 1970s, after Hendrix's demise, Knight moved to London, England, where he formed the group "Curtis Knight, Zeus", and toured throughout Europe, relying on his Hendrix connection for many years. Among the musicians enlisted was "Fast" Eddie Clarke who went on to fame as part of the line up which made Motörhead famous on such records as "Bomber" and "Ace of Spades" during the late 1970s and early 1980s.
Knight wrote the book Jimi: An Intimate Biography of Jimi Hendrix, published in 1974 by W.H Allen (hardback) and Star Books (paperback) in London, and by Praeger Publishers, New York. The book includes A Jimi Hendrix Discography, compiled by John McKellar.
Knight was also a competitive table tennis player who played in some local tournaments while living in New York.
In 1992, Knight relocated to the Netherlands where he continued to record up to his death from cancer in November 1999.