David Budge, son of the tennis star Don Budge who later became a music journalist and record company executive, was “the luckiest of the Druid gang because I got to spend the most time with him,” he enthuses. “I first met him when he was Little Richard’s lead guitarist at a huge fraternity mixer at Syracuse University in ’65. After the gig, I bumped into him at the Orange Tavern and he invited me to sit down and share some beer and pizza with him after I’d gushed praise for five minutes. Two months later I ran into him in Times Square where he was exiting a theatre with his date, Mary Wells. He told me he was putting a band together, and I lied, telling him I was a drummer, ’cause I wanted to play with him so much. ‘Come on up to room 762 at the Hilton. We’re rehearsing,’ he suggested with a laugh. I never showed.
“My next encounter was at Ondine’s where Carl and I showed up to catch the Curtis Knight & The Squires soundcheck. Club manager Brad Pierce had informed us we’d be sharing the bill, so we were obviously curious. When Jimi walked in he spotted me and said, ‘Hey man, how come you never showed up at the Hilton?’ That was a year earlier, but he remembered. I replied, “Because I never could and still can’t play drums.” We both laughed and they finished soundcheck.
“During their stint with us at Ondine’s, Curtis Knight was ‘unable’ to pay the band, and Jimi got tossed from the Belleclaire Hotel on West 77th Street. My parents’ apartment on East 57th Street, two blocks from Ondine’s, was the obvious solution to Jimi’s problem. My Dad was away in Jamaica running his tennis camp. My brother was with him. Mom was on assignment for Look magazine interviewing Roger Maris. The pad was in my hands and Jimi was soon crashing on the couch. At the end of an Ondine’s night, we’d grab a half-pound of cheap weed and roll up a few joints. He’d then commence to play, seemingly random stuff, but ultimately he was laying some of the groundwork for the Experience’s debut album. I took the opportunity to beg him to teach me guitar and he went to considerable trouble to make that happen. Finally, he told me the awful truth: ‘Listen, man. Do me a favor and stick to singing.'”