First Single “Ain’t No Other Way” Out This Week
Herman Hitson (aka Hermon Hitson) – psych-rock and funk music pioneer; Jimi Hendrix collaborator; chitlin circuit veteran with James Brown, Joe Tex, Bobby Womack, Wilson Pickett, Jackie Wilson, the Drifters, the Shirelles, Hank Ballard & the Midnighters, and Lee Moses; recovering heroin addict; Ponderosa Stomp alum; Music Maker Foundation partner artist; darling of 45 collectors; and one-time inmate – will see a new album produced in Memphis, TN at Delta-Sonic Sound by Bruce Watson and Will Sexton released on Big Legal Mess September 23.
Lead single “Ain’t No Other Way” is out this week (OK to share).
“I was vaguely familiar with Hermon’s history but really had never heard him outside of some poorly produced CD releases from the ‘80s,” says Watson, continuing, “Hermon arrived at the studio and from the first note of the soundcheck it was clear that this session was going to be special. We cut the record in two days. Hermon was unstoppable and the Sound Section was on fire.”
“That soundcheck song I mentioned was so good I named it ‘Feast of Ants’ and used it on the record,” adds Watson.
Co-producer and guitarist Will Sexton agrees, calling Hitson a “cosmic communicator and wah-wah guitar whisperer.” Sexton goes on, “He comes down with wickedest grove filling the room, a perfect balance of soul and communication. He’s one of the old guard of the groove. He literally forced everybody to get loose and then tight. The most fun I’ve had in years, to play with a psychedelic pioneer with the guidance to take us in some trippy places.”
Let The Gods Sing captures the adventurous musical spirit of Hitson, with a wicked groove and a mix of funk, rhythm & blues, soul, hard blues, all layered with psychedelia. Recorded and co-produced by Bruce Watson at his Delta Sounds Studio in Memphis, Hitson’s backed on the new album by guitarist and co-producer Will Sexton and some of Memphis’ best musicians: The cast includes Mark Edgar Stuart on bass, and Will McCarley on drums, plus Art Edmaiston on horns, Al Gamble on organ, and singer-guitarist Marcella Simien. Garage rock legend Jack Oblivian played guitar on “Bad Girl.”
Hitson’s new album features Hitson’s new performances of his best-known R&B songs — the funky, frenetic “Ain’t No Other Way.” He also covers “Bad Girl,” written by his longtime bandmate Moses, and a 1972 single for Hitson. He revives “Suspicious!,” another Hitson song attributed to Hendrix at the time.
Hitson was a confidant of Jimi Hendrix, rooming together on the road together, recording together in the studio, and living together in Hitson’s apartment for a brief time. Hitson played a key role in convincing Hendrix to sing as well as play guitar.
Around the time of his good friend’s passing and in spite of Jimi’s warning to him, Hitson himself became a heroin addict, though he soon got clean and joined the Nation of Islam and began to paint. After serving time for drugs and “running women,” Hitson worked as a snake-clearer in the sugar cane fields of south Florida, armed with a flamethrower. Prior to that, he had also been arrested for the murder of his girlfriend, though the charges were dropped when it became apparent he was innocent.
In recent years, Hitson put out a series of singles, performed at the tastemaker Ponderosa Stomp Festival (both in New Orleans and at SXSW), spoke with Wax Poetics for a feature, saw his early singles anthologized, and performed locally in Atlanta, GA, where he lives. After joining the Music Maker Foundation, he performed at Telluride Blues & Brews Festival as part of the Music Maker Blues Revue, bringing his psychedelic sensibilities to the proceedings.