The Legendary Curtis Knight In The 1960’s Harlem Music Scene (Updated)

Curtis Knight, May 9, 1929 – November 29, 1999, born Mont Curtis McNear, was an American musician who is known for his music, his band and his legendary partnership with Jimi Hendrix.

Knight was a singer in the 1960s Harlem R&B music scene, usually fronting his own band, the Curtis Knight and the Squires. In 1965, with Hendrix as a guitarist, he recorded some singles and demos for record producer Ed Chalpin.

Chalpin also signed Hendrix to a management contract, which Hendrix soon forgot about and left for England in 1966 to form the Jimi Hendrix Experience. After Hendrix became famous, Knight and Chalpin issued hundreds of albums of the recordings with Hendrix, resulting in years of legal action by both sides.

During the 1970s, after Hendrix’s demise, Knight moved to London, 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 later joined Motörhead.

In 1974, Knight authored a biography Jimi: An Intimate Biography of Jimi Hendrix. He also wrote a second book on Hendrix, titled Starchild, published in the mid-1990s. In 1992, Knight relocated to the Netherlands where he continued to record up to his death from cancer in November 1999.

Curtis Knight and the Squires, Voodoo Woman 1976.


Knight is related to singer Barbara McNair who is reportedly his cousin.

Partial discography

In 2003, Hendrix’s estate finally prevailed in their legal actions against Chalpin and gained control of all of Hendrix’s recordings associated with Knight, Chalpin, and PPX. Experience Hendrix, which currently manages Hendrix’s recording legacy, has begun releasing the material he recorded with Knight.

Much of it has been sonically restored and removes later overdubs and electronic effects.

Photo credit: 1) 2) Curtis Knight (source). 2) Curtis Knight, Voodoo Woman 1976.

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