Wylde & Co. will bring the Experience Hendrix Tour — now entering its second decade — to Salt Lake City's Eccles Theater this Monday.
"I mean, why wouldn't you want to do it, you know? If you're a guitar player, everybody loves Saint Hendrix over there," Wylde said. "It's been a blast every time I do it now. I think this is my third or fourth year doing it, and I look forward to it every time. … They're my Experience Hendrix family now."
Among those also participating are bassist Billy Cox (who played with Hendrix in the Jimi Hendrix Experience and Band of Gypsys) and guitarists including Rock 'N' Roll Hall of Famer Buddy Guy, Kenny Wayne Shepherd and Dweezil Zappa.
The format consists of each featured guitarist joining the band for a few select performances, then teaming with other players for a special collaboration. On this run, Wylde has been playing "Little Wing" and "Purple Haze," followed by a "jam with Jonny Lang" on "All Along the Watchtower."
Wylde, best known for his time in Ozzy Osbourne's solo band and for fronting his own group, Black Label Society, said the camaraderie of the Experience Hendrix players — some of whom have joined forces on the tour over several years — inevitably breeds creativity in the performances.
"It's almost like every time we come back to this thing, it's like summer camp, and you're seeing all your friends again," he said. "That's the way I look at it every time we do it."
Part of Hendrix's enduring legacy is, to be sure, his incendiary style, his onstage pyrotechnics — and not just because he literally lit his guitar ablaze at the Monterey International Pop Festival in 1967.
For Wylde, though, while the showmanship is a definite draw, it is a secondary component in the enduring mythology of Hendrix. None of that would ultimately matter, he argues, if the songcraft itself didn't stand out.
"It's amazing when you really think about what he accomplished, considering it was just three years — all the stuff that he created. That's just mind-blowing," Wylde said. "But it's not only the guitar-playing and how innovative he was — the effects pedal, all that was new, as well — but it was the songs. Everybody, when we're all there and everybody gets up there playing, everybody on the tour is all phenomenal guitar players and musicians, but it's the songs that everyone's listening to."
Wylde has been listening to Hendrix's songs since his youth. His first guitar teacher was a huge fan, and so, "One of the first chord songs I learned was 'Hey Joe.' "
That love has endured. One of Wylde's most famous live performances was a 1994 guitar duel/duet with Guns N' Roses' Slash on "Voodoo Child." These days, while Wylde will next join another group of guitar heroes on the Generation Axe Tour, then will do a separate round of tribute shows with his Zakk Sabbath group, before finishing off the year by working on his next Black Label Society album, he said that the Experience Hendrix performances he takes part in remain an annual highlight he's loath to miss.
"If I wasn't playing on the show, I'd be doing catering and making sure everyone's happy, doing their wash and their laundry," just to stay involved, Wylde joked. "And it would still be a great time, because I'd get to watch the show."