Born Curtis McNear, 9 May 1929, Fort Scott, Kansas, USA, died 29 November 1999, Amsterdam, the Netherlands. Having completed his national service, Knight settled in California where he hoped to pursue a career in music. He appeared in a low-budget movie, Pop Girl, before relocating to New York during the early 60s. Knight then recorded for several minor labels, but these releases have been eclipsed by the singer’s collaborations with Jimi Hendrix, who joined Curtis’ group, the Squires, in 1965.
Hendrix’s tenure there was brief, but the contract he signed with Knight’s manager, Ed Chalpin, had unfortunate repercussions, particularly as the guitarist ill-advisedly undertook another recording session in 1967. His spells with Knight yielded 61 songs, 26 studio and 35 live, which have since been the subject of numerous exploitative compilations. Although some of this material is, in isolation, worthwhile, such practices have undermined its value.
As Curtis Knight continued to pursue his career throughout the 60s using whatever musicians were available, he increasingly relied on his Hendrix association, and in 1974 published Jimi, ‘an intimate biography’. By this point Knight was based in London where he led a new group, Curtis Knight - Zeus. This band comprised Eddie Clarke (guitar; later in Motörhead), Nicky Hogarth (keyboards), John Weir (bass) and Chris Perry (drums).
They completed two albums, but only one was issued in the UK. The singer undertook a European tour and recorded an unremarkable album before returning to the USA. In the latter part of the decade Knight conceived the black punk rock band, Pure Hell. He continued to work with a variety of musicians while running his own limousine business. In 1992, Knight relocated to the Netherlands where he continued to record up to his death from cancer in November 1999. He had recently launched the Double Rainbow/Happy Dream label.
Knight cut a storming set of tunes which varies from the immediately attractive rocking title track, through the peaks and troughs of New Horizon, to the comparative restraint of The Confession. It’s hard to imagine any rock fan not finding something to enjoy here, with the quality of the playing and instantly memorable songs. Here and there Knight uses a female chorus to enhance certain tracks, while his overall production of the album is clear and engaging. One bonus, The Devil Made Me Do It, is added to the original, making this a highly recommended reissue for any Hendrix or general rock fan.
by Kingsley Abbott
1. Zeus - 3:19
2. New Horizon - 4:00
3. Silver Queen - 6:15
4. Mysterious Lady - 2:47
5. Road Song - 4:38
6. People Places and Things - 2:55
7. Cloud (Eddie Clarke, Curtis Knight) - 8:27
8. Eyes of a Child - 2:47
9. The Confession (Eddie Clarke, Curtis Knight) - 5:54
10.Oh Rainbow - 2:47
11.The Devil Made Me Do It - 2:36
*Curtis Knight - Guitar, Vocals
*John Weir - Bass
*Eddie Clarke - Guitar
*Nicky Hogarth - Keyboards
*Chris Perry - Percussion