Instead of retelling the Hendrix story of his career here, which is available in thousands of online articles, countless magazines and books, the focus of this show will be on his time at the storied Woodstock festival.
The highest paid performer at Woodstock was also the festival closer: Jimi Hendrix. This was not an anomaly: Hendrix was the top paid live performing artist of the late 1960’s. Originally signed when Hendrix was still in the Experience with Mitch Mitchell and Noel Redding, that band had just bitterly broken up, with Mitchell staying on and an ad-hoc band of old Army buddies and other new musicians joined him for what Hendrix would call “Gypsy Sun and Rainbows”.
The band had been together for less than two weeks, and, according to Hendrix, had only rehearsed twice. You wouldn’t have guessed it by the truly solid performances. At over two hours, it was one of the longest of Hendrix’s career, possibly the only one where he played right after sunrise and one of the few where he played an encore.
By the time Hendrix and his new band came on, however, about 2/3 of the audience had already split, leaving the crown to an estimated 170,000 or so people left. Photos of the crowd from the stage when Hendrix was playing show the immediate aftermath of the festival: garbage everywhere, mud everywhere and a crowd exhausted by the previous 72 hours of endless drama. (Hendrix even jokingly scolds the audience during his performance as being “hard headed”.)
Interestingly, Hendrix, who came on after an almost half day late due to inclement weather, was not supposed to be the closer. Festival producer Michael Lang originally wanted cowboy crooner Roy Rogers to sign his signature song, “Happy Trails” as people left, but the singer declined.
Of all of the things that did come from the performance, one of the coolest, if not the coolest, was the only competitive Grammy nomination Hendrix ever received for the “Star Spangled Banner” for Best Contemporary Instrumental Performance. (He lost to Henry Mancini.) However, by the time of this announcement, Hendrix was already dead from what appeared to be an accidental overdose in London in September, 1970.
Jimi Hendrix at Woodstock, August 1969
- Message of Love
- Spanish Castle Magic
- Lover Man
- Voodoo Child (Slight Return)
- The Star Spangled Banner
- Purple Haze
Love to you all.
Ben “Bear” Brown Jr., owner
Host, Producer, Audio Engineer and Writer
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