Jimi Hendrix (1942–1970) was an American rock guitarist, vocalist, songwriter, and producer who released three 1967–68 albums on Track–Reprise with his London-based power-trio The Experience, followed by the 1970 live release Band of Gypsys.
He was born Johnny Allen Hendrix on November 27, 1942, in Seattle, to James Allen “Al” Hendrix (1991–2002) and Lucille Hendrix (née Jeter, 1925–1958). In 1946, they changed his name to James Marshall Hendrix in honor of Al and his late brother, Leon Marshall. His parents divorced in 1951 and Al got sole custody of James and his younger brother, Leon.
In elementary school, Hendrix developed a habit of holding broomsticks to emulate a guitar. Eventually, he found a one-string banjo in a pile of garbage and used it to learn rock n’ roll songs by ear. At age fifteen, he got his first acoustic guitar for $5 and formed his first band, The Velvetones.
In mid-1959, Al bought Hendrix his first electric guitar, a white Supro Ozark 1560S. He gigged with his first professional band, The Rocking Kings, which performed in matching red jackets and played Seattle haunts like the Spanish Castle and Birdland club. In 1960, they changed their name to Thomas & the Tomcats. After the theft of his Ozark, Al bought him a red Silvertone Danelectro guitar. To suit his left-handedness, Hendrix restrung his guitars in reverse and tuned them down a semi-tone (to E♭).
On May 31, 1961, Hendrix enlisted in the US Army, where he completed twenty-six skydives with the 101st Airborne Division. Meanwhile, he jammed with bassist and fellow serviceman Billy Cox.
In July 1962, Hendrix received an honorable discharge and settled in Clarksville, Tenn., where he and Cox formed The King Kasuals. Another local player, Sharps guitarist Alphonso “Baby Boo” Young, plucked strings with his teeth. Hendrix harnessed this gimmick as part of his stage act. They relocated to Nashville, where Hendrix moonlighted as a backing musician for Wilson Pickett, Sam Cooke, Ike & Tina Turner, and Jackie Wilson.
Hendrix left the Kings in 1964 and moved to Harlem, where the Isley Brothers hired him for their backing band. That March, he played on their two-part single “Testify,” followed that summer by a credit on the Don Covay single “Mercy Mercy” (US No. 35). He gigged with the Isley’s until October, then started an eight-month stint with Little Richard’s touring band, The Upsetters. He played on Richard’s February 1965 single “I Don’t Know What You Got (But It’s Got Me).”
During the Upsetters gig, he played on the 1965 single “My Diary” (b/w “Utee”) by soul singer Rosa Lee Brooks. Both sides feature backing vocals by Arthur Lee of the fledgling west coast rock band Love. After coming to blows with Richard, Hendrix played on another Isley’s single, “Move Over and Let Me Dance” (b/w “Have You Ever Been Disappointed”).
In October 1965, Hendrix began an eight-month stint with Curtis Knight and the Squires. In live settings, he often stole the spotlight with extended solos and moments of visceral abandon in his guitar playing. He played on their single “How Would You Feel” (b/w “Welcome Home”). At Knight’s encouragement, Hendrix signed a three-year deal with music businessman Ed Chalpin, who controlled the Squires’ recordings. Concurrently, Hendrix toured with Joey Dee & the Starliters and played on the two-part single “Help Me” by Ray Sharpe.
Hendrix earned his first co-writing credits (with producer Jerry Simon) on the 1966 Squires single “Hornets Nest” (b/w “Knock Yourself Out”). Meanwhile, Chalpin produced “Suey,” a record by actress Jayne Mansfield with Hendrix on guitar.
In late May 1966, Hendrix moved to New York’s Greenwich Village and formed his first rock band, The Rainflowers, which included fifteen-year-old rhythm guitarist Randy Wolfe, who Hendrix renamed Randy California. As Jimmy James & the Blue Flames, they performed at the Cheetah Club, where attendee Linda Keith took note of Hendrix’s stage presence.
Linda, the girlfriend of Rolling Stones rhythm guitarist Keith Richards, recommended Hendrix to Stones manager Andrew Loog Oldham, who failed to see the unsigned performer’s potential. She then informed ex-Animals bassist and aspiring rock manager Chas Chandler. Awestruck, Chandler whisked Hendrix to London on September 24, 1966. Hendrix invited Randy California but the boy’s stepfather, jazz drummer Ed Cassidy, objected to such a move. (California and Cassidy soon relocated to LA and formed the psychedelic rock band Spirit.)
The Jimi Hendrix Experience
Jimi Hendrix made his earliest UK concert appearances at the Scotch of St. James, where he jammed with The VIP’s (9/27) and Brian Auger & The Trinity (9/29). On October 1, he made a guest appearance with Cream at the London Polytechnic.
For his new band, the Experience, Hendrix recruited bassist Noel Redding and drummer Mitch Mitchell. Redding hailed from beatsters The Lonely Ones; Mitchell from Georgie Fame & the Blue Flames. At Chandler’s suggestion, Hendrix changed the spelling of his nickname from Jimmy to Jimi.
After a brief opening engagement with French popstar Johnny Hallyday (Oct. 13–18), the Jimi Hendrix Experience signed to Track Record, a label recently established by Who manager Kit Lambert with distribution through Polydor. On October 24, the Experience jammed at Knuckles Club with Deep Feeling, a spinoff of beatsters The Hellions with (future Traffic) drummer Jim Capaldi.
On November 25, the Jimi Hendrix Experience played London’s Bag O’ Nails club before an audience that included Pete Townshend, Kevin Ayers, Jeff Beck, Eric Clapton, Paul McCartney, and Brian Jones. Hendrix floored the audience and garnered a write-up in the UK music weekly Record Mirror, which declared him “Mr. Phenomenon” and predicted he’d “whirl around the business like a tornado.”
On December 16, 1966, the Jimi Hendrix Experience debuted with the single “Hey Joe,” a blues standard backed with the Hendrix rocker “Stone Free.”
“Hey Joe” is a song registered in 1962 by American folkie Billy Roberts, who performed it in clubs during the late 1950s. In 1965, fellow club folkie and (future Quicksilver Messenger Service) singer Dino Valenti claimed co-authorship of the song when he signed a publishing deal with the LA-based firm Third Story Music. This brought the song to garage-rockers The Leaves, who cut the first of many “Hey Joe” covers.
Hendrix and the Experience recorded the single sides on October 23 (“Hey Joe”) and November 2 (“Stone Free”) at London’s Studio De Lane Lea, where Chandler produced the songs amid noise complaints from nearby residents. “Hey Joe” features backing vocals by The Breakaways, a female studio trio with credits on songs by Sandra Barry, Sharon Tandy, and Petula Clark (“I Know a Place”).
On December 13, they performed the song on the ITV music program Ready Steady Go!
As “Hey Joe” inched up the UK Singles Chart, the Jimi Hendrix Experience mimed the song for the December 29, 1966, broadcast of the BBC music program Top of the Pops, which aired the song amid current hits by Cream (“I Feel Free”), The Monkees (“I’m a Believer”), The Supremes (“You Keep Me Hangin’ On”), and The Who (“Happy Jack”).
The Jimi Hendrix Experience spent January 1967 on the London club circuit. “Hey Joe” climbed to No. 6 on the UK Singles Chart while TotP twice reaired the song amid competing hits by Cat Stevens (“Mathew and Son”), Chris Farlowe (“My Way of Giving In”), Four Tops (“Standing In The Shadows of Love”), The Move (“Night of Fear”), Paul Jones (“I’ve Been a Bad, Bad Boy”), Petula Clark (“This Is My Song”), The Rolling Stones (“Ruby Tuesday”), and the Spencer Davis Group (“I’m a Man”).
On Tuesday, January 24, the Jimi Hendrix Experience headlined London’s prestigious Marquee Club with psych-rockers The Syn. As sessions continued on their debut album, they played dates with The Who (1/29: Saville Theatre, London), and Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick and Tich (2/26: Cliffs Pavilion, Southend-On-Se). On March 8, they played Hull’s Skyline Ballroom as part of a multi-act event with The Family, The Small Four, The Strollers, and The Mandrakes.
On March 17, Jimi Hendrix Experience released their second UK single “Purple Haze,” a menacing rocker backed with the uptempo “51st Anniversary” — both Hendrix originals.
Hendrix and Chandler pieced together “Purple Haze” from multiple sessions at De Lane Lea (January 11) and Olympic Studios (February 3–8), where engineer Roger Mayer supplied Jimi with the customized Octavia effects pedal.
The Jimi Hendrix Experience returned to the Marquee for a March 2 date with The Neat Change (with Peter Banks). Their performances of “Hey Joe” and “Purple Haze” were taped for the German music program Beat-Club, which aired Hendrix on its March 11 broadcast amid clubs by The Smoke (“My Friend Jack”), The Who, and Geno Washington & the Ram Jam Band.
On March 30, the Jimi Hendrix Experience mimed “Purple Haze” on TotP, which re-aired the song across three fortnights amid spring ’67 hits by The Byrds (“So You Want To Be a Rock and Roll Star”), Cliff Richard (“It’s All Over”), Dusty Springfield (“I’ll Try Anything”), Four Tops (“Bernadette”), The Kinks (“Waterloo Sunset”), Manfred Mann (“Ha! Ha! Said the Clown”), The Move (“I Can Hear the Grass Grow”), PP Arnold (“The First Cut Is the Deepest”), The Turtles (“Happy Together”), and The Who (“Pictures of Lily”).
“Purple Haze” reached No. 3 in the UK and No. 7 in Austria and Norway. In Europe, Hendrix releases appeared on Polydor (apart from France, where Barclay packed his output on four-song EPs).
Meanwhile, Reprise Records signed Hendrix for the North American market. Reprise — a division of Warner Bros. founded in 1960 by Frank Sinatra — issued “Hey Joe” (b/w “51st Anniversary”) in April 1967 as the first US Experience single.
On April 17, the Jimi Hendrix Experience performed “Purple Haze” and another new original, “Manic Depression,” at BBC TV Studios for the UK music program Late Night Line Up. That night, they jammed at London’s Speakeasy with Georgie Fame and Ben E. King.
“The Wind Cries Mary”
On May 5, 1967, the Jimi Hendrix Experience released their third UK single, “The Wind Cries Mary,” a blues ballad backed with the mid-tempo “Highway Chile” — both Hendrix originals.
Chandler produced “The Wind Cries Mary” on January 11, 1967, at De Lane Lea and “Highway Chile” on April 3 at Olympic.
Hendrix and the Experience mimed the song for the May 18 broadcast of TotP, which aired the song amid hits by The Beach Boys (“Then I Kissed Her”), Jeff Beck (“Hi-Ho Silver Lining”), The Mamas & the Papas (“Dedicated to the One I Love”), and The Troggs (“Night of the Long Grass”).
“The Wind Cries Mary” reached No. 6 on the UK Singles Chart. Italian beatsters I Diabolici cut a translated cover titled “Qualcuno Forse Piange,” released in 1967 on Italian RCA; backed with the a cover of the Procol Harum single “Homburg” (translated as “C’È Una Strada”).
On May 8, the Jimi Hendrix Experience appeared at London’s Speakeasy for an impromptu jam with Brian Auger & Trinity.
Are You Experienced
The Jimi Hendrix Experience released their debut album, Are You Experienced, on May 12, 1967, on Track. It features eleven new originals that range from strident rockers (“Foxy Lady,” “Fire”) to experiments in multi-tracking (“3rd Stone from the Sun”) and backward effects (“Are You Experienced”).
1. “Foxy Lady” (3:10)
2. “Manic Depression” (3:31)
3. “Red House” (3:45)
4. “Can You See Me” (2:35)
5. “Love or Confusion” (3:05)
6. “I Don’t Live Today” (3:48) Edmonton garage-rockers The Purple Haze released a cover of “I Don’t Live Today” as a 1968 a-side. (An unrelated Canadian band, also called The Purple Haze, released a one-off single in late 1967, though it’s unclear if their name was inspired by the Hendrix song.)
1. “May This Be Love” (2:55)
2. “Fire” (2:30)
3. “3rd Stone from the Sun” (6:30)
4. “Remember” (2:43)
5. “Are You Experienced” (4:02)
Sessions took place at sporadic intervals between October 23, 1966, and April 4, 1967, at De Lane Lea, CBS, and Olympic Studios. Are You Experienced and the preceding Hendrix singles marked Chas Chandlers’ first foray into production. They cut three tracks (“Foxy Lady,” “Red House,” “Third Stone from the Sun”) with CBS engineer Mike Ross (Donovan, The Tremeloes), whose strategic placement of Neumann condenser microphones helped balance the red-zone amplification of Jimi’s Marshall stacks with the acoustics of CBS studios.
Olympic soundman Eddie Kramer (Mr. Fantasy) engineered “The Wind Cries Mary” and “Are You Experienced?” His pre-mixdown approach (four tracks into two) facilitated multiple overdubs on the title-track. De Lane soundman Dave Siddle engineered the balance of Are You Experienced amid work on 1967 titles by Georgie Fame, The Herd, and Picadilly Line.
Redding plays bass on everything except “Red House,” which features him on rhythm guitar. He sings backing vocals on “Foxy Lady” and (with Mitchell) “Fire.” Hendrix plays piano on “Are You Experienced?”
Who co-manager Chris Stamp designed the cover to Are You Experienced, which sports a double-cup title typography and a group photo by Bruce Fleming, who captured Hendrix in a Dracula pose. The back cover features a monochrome photo collage and bios on each member. Fleming’s earlier credits include multiple visuals for the Dave Clark Five and French–Belgian beatsters Les Sunlights.
Are You Experienced appeared on Polydor in Japan, Oceania, and most of Europe apart from France, where the album appeared on Barclay with an alternate cover that shows a small photo of Hendix surrounded with psychedelic colors.
Are You Experienced reached No. 2 on the UK Albums Chart. In Europe, it reached No. 3 in Norway and No. 17 in Germany. Jimi promoted its continental release with a twelve-date German–Scandinavian tour (May 15-28). In Sweden, he jammed with locals at the En Till Club (5/24).
On May 31, the Jimi Hendrix Experience jammed at the Speakeasy with José Feliciano and Cream members Eric Clapton and Jack Bruce. On June 4, Hendrix headlined London’s Saville Theatre with support by Procol Harum. Here, he serenaded attendees Paul McCartney and George Harrison with a hard-rock arrangement of “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band,” the title-track of the just-released Beatles album.
Monterey Pop Festival
One month after the release of his debut album, Hendrix was still unknown to US audiences. McCartney, now a staunch supporter, urged Bay Area concert organizers to add the Experience to the lineup of the Monterey Pop Festival, a three-day event (June 16–18) at the Monterey County Fairgrounds in Monterey, California.
Brian Jones introduced Hendrix as “the most exciting performer ever” to the 200,000 Monterey Pop attendees. The Jimi Hendrix Experience took the stage as the penultimate act on the evening of Day 3 (Sunday the 18th), where they opened with the Howlin’ Wolf chestnut “Killing Floor” and tore through “Foxy Lady,” Dylan’s “Like a Rolling Stone,” Lil’ Son Jackson’s “Rock Me Baby,” “Hey Joe,” “Can You See Me,” “The Wind Cries Mary,” “Purple Haze,” and the Chip Taylor-penned “Wild Thing” (a recent hit for The Troggs).
Throughout the set, a ruffle-clad Hendrix dive-bombed his guitar neck and made pelvic gyrations with the instrument. At the climax of “Wild Thing,” he knelt down before his guitar, doused it with lighter fluid and set it aflame as right-angled cameras rolled and photographer Ed Caraeff captured the moment front and center. The event grabbed headlines and made Hendrix an overnight sensation among the US rock cognoscenti.
On June 19, 1967, Reprise issued “Purple Haze” (b/w “The Wind Cries Mary”) as his first Canadian and second US single. The Jimi Hendrix Experience consolidated their West Coast conquest with a six-night stand (June 20–25) at the Fillmore West, where they outperformed headliners Jefferson Airplane.
On July 1, the Jimi Hendrix Experience headlined over Country Joe & The Fish and the Strawberry Alarm Clock at the Earl Warren Showgrounds in Santa Barbara. Mid-month, they opened for The Monkees on a seven-date Eastern swing that climaxed with four straight nights (July 13–16) at Forest Hills Stadium. In early August, Hendrix played multiple nights (3–5, 7–8) at NYC’s Salvation Club.
In North America, Are You Experienced appeared on August 23, 1967, on Reprise. This re-sequenced version adds the a-sides of the first three UK Experience singles (“Hey Joe,” “Purple Haze,” “The Wind Cries Mary”) and drops three songs from the Track–Polydor release (“Red House,” “Can You See Me,” “Remember”). “Purple Haze” opens the album and “Foxey Lady” (US spelling) is the penultimate track.
Hendrix, dissatisfied with Fleming’s cover on the the Track–Polydor release, enlisted photographer Karl Ferris for a new group photo-shoot. Ferris recently shot the cover to the June 1967 Hollies release Evolution and subsequently photographed Donovan for the Scottish folkster’s December US Epic releases For Little Ones and A Gift From a Flower To a Garden.
For the Reprise Are You Experienced, Ferris captured the Experience with a fish-eye lens in psychedelic garb under tinted autumnal leaves. Before the shoot, Jimi’s girlfriend Kathy Etchingham restyled his hair in a rounded afro, which Redding and Mitchell adopted as a group look. Warner–Reprise art director Ed Thrasher picked the cover’s yellow framework and curled, purple letters. The back cover features a monochrome side-to-side medium group shot with liner notes (uncredited) that state “Jimi Hendrix breaks the world into interesting fragments. Then reassembles it… this debut album will put the heads of Hendrix listeners into some novel positions. Be forewarned.”
Are You Experienced reached No. 5 on the US Billboard 200 and No. 10 on the Top R&B Albums chart. In Canada, it reached No. 15 on the RPM Top 50 Albums chart. In November, Reprise lifted “Foxey Lady” as the second Canadian and third US Experience single (b/w “Hey Joe”). Weeks later, “Foxy Lady” (UK–Euro spelling) appeared on German Polydor (b/w “Manic Depression”).
Within months of its release, Detroit proto-funksters the Soul Agents (later Black Merda) covered “Foxy Lady” on local-press Atac. In 1968, New York soul-psychsters Group Therapy and Ohioan garage-rockers The Human Beinz covered “Foxy Lady” — the former on their RCA debut People Get Ready for Group Therapy; the latter on their Capitol debut Nobody But Me.
“Burning of the Midnight Lamp”
On August 19, 1967, the Jimi Hendrix Experience released their third UK single, “Burning of the Midnight Lamp,” a phased, harpsichord-laden ballad backed with the smouldering density of “The Stars That Play with Laughing Sam’s Dice” — both Hendrix originals.
Chandler produced the sides on July 6–7 (”Burning”) and 19–20 (“Stars”) at Studio Mayfair in New York City. Hendrix conceived “Burning of the Midnight Lamp” in May at Olympic when he stumbled upon a harpsichord in Studio A and tapped out basic notes on the instrument. Record Plant soundman Gary Kellgren engineered the song, which features backing vocals by The Sweet Inspirations, an American female soul-pop quartet. Kellgren also worked on 1967 albums by The Hobbits, Nico, and Eric Burdon & the “New” Animals.
The Jimi Hendrix Experience mimed “Burning of the Midnight Lamp” on the August 24 broadcast of TotP, which aired the song amid clips by the Alan Price Set (“The House That Jack Built”), The Rolling Stones (“We Love You”), Small Faces (“Itchycoo Park”), and Tomorrow singer Keith West (“Excerpt From a Teenage Opera”).
On August 27, the Experience played Saville Theatre with West and the Crazy World of Arthur Brown. On September 3, they embarked on a ten-day tour of Sweden, where they jammed with Hansson & Karlsson at Club Filips (9/7). On October 24, they returned to the Marquee with newcomers The Nice.
In November, they performed “Foxy Lady,” “Catfish Blues,” and “Purple Haze” on the Dutch TV program Hoepla. They also played the Hippy-Happy Festival, a five-day event at the Rotterdam Ahoy with sets by After Tea, Bee Gees, The Golden Earrings, Groep 1850, and Pink Floyd. Hendrix headlined Day 1 (Sunday the 10th), supported by The Motions. On Nov. 11, they played the New Refectory at Sussex University in Brighton with Ten Years After.
The Jimi Hendrix Experience closed out autumn on a fifteen-date package tour with Amen Corner, The Move, The Nice, Outer Limits, Pink Floyd, and Irish psychsters Eire Apparent. The tour began on Nov. 15 at London’s Royal Albert Hall and wrapped on December 5 in Glasgow at Green’s Playhouse.
Axis: Bold as Love
The Jimi Hendrix Experience released their second album, Axis: Bold as Love, on December 1, 1967, on Track and Polydor. It contains twelve Hendrix originals, including “Spanish Castle Magic,” “If 6 Was 9,” “You Got Me Floating,” and the much-covered “Little Wing.” Side two contains “She’s So Fine,” a Noel Redding composition.
1. “EXP” (1:55)
2. “Up from the Skies” (2:55)
3. “Spanish Castle Magic” (3:00) takes its name from Seattle’s Spanish Castle club, where Hendrix gigged with The Rocking Kings.
4. “Wait Until Tomorrow” (3:00)
5. “Ain’t No Telling” (1:46)
6. “Little Wing” (2:24) Eric Clapton covered the song with Derek & the Dominos on their 1970 double-album Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs.
7. “If Six Was Nine” (US edition spelling “If 6 Was 9”) (5:32)
1. “You’ve Got Me Floating” (US edition spelling “You Got Me Floatin'”) (2:45)
2. “Castles Made of Sand” (2:46)
3. “She’s So Fine” (Noel Redding) (2:37)
4. “One Rainy Wish” (3:40)
5. “Little Miss Lover” (2:20)
6. “Bold as Love” (4:09)
Sessions commenced in May 1967 at Olympic, where they completed multiple tracks in a matter of days, including several (“Mr. Bad Luck,” “Cat Talking to Me”) that didn’t make the final cut. For Axis, Jimi’s studio perfectionism and demand for multiple takes tested his band and crew, namely Chandler. Sessions occurred sporadically through June amid tour dates in Europe and America. They completed the album in October 1967 after promotions wrapped on the “Burning of the Midnight Lamp” single, a non-album (for the time being) taster from the spring–summer sessions.
Kramer engineered Axis: Bold as Love with assistance from novice soundmen George Chkiantz, Terry Brown, and Andy Johns. Chkiantz engineered parts of the Small Faces US debut There Are But Four Small Faces and earned his first proper credit on Music In a Doll’s House, the 1968 debut album by Family. Brown engineered The Smoke’s singular album, …It’s Smoke Time. Any, the younger brother of Rolling Stones engineer Glyn Johns, would earn his first proper credits on 1968 albums by The Deviants and the Bonzo Dog Band.
Select tracks feature Hendrix on recorder (“If Six Was Nine”) and glockenspiel (“Little Wing”). Redding, who sings lead on “She’s So Fine,” plays four- and eight-string bass. “EXP” features Mitchell as the interviewer and Hendrix as the voice of Mr. Paul Caruso.
Additional personnel include Gary Leeds (aka Gary Walker of the Walker Brothers) and Hollies co-founder Graham Nash, who (along with Chandler and Redding) do the foot stamping on “If 6 Was 9.” Move members Roy Wood and Trevor Burton sing backing vocals on “You Got Me Floatin’.”
Axis: Bold as Love is housed in a vertical gatefold cover with artwork by Track Record designers David King and Roger Law, who both worked on the gigantic product visuals on The Who Sell Out. Law took a Ferris head-to-head group shot and paint-rendered the image with Hindu visuals that portray the Experience as incarnations of Vishnu, the God of Preservation and Time and the Protector of Good and Bestower of Karma. The band name and title appear in smoke font within the surya (sun) behind the king cobra heads.
The Axis inner-gate (landscape) features a monochrome head-to-head group shot by Donald Silverstein, who did early sixties cover photography for numerous jazz acts (Bill Evans, Charlie Byrd, Eddie “Lockjaw” Davis, George Russell) on Riverside Records.
In France, Axis: Bold as Love appeared on Barclay with an alternate cover that shows the Experience in a psychedelic studio setting with swerving white–gray lines. Hendrix dons a blue suit and sports a Flying V guitar. The Barclay back cover has a grainy monochrome upshot of Hendrix alone with liner notes in French.
The Jimi Hendrix Experience plugged Axis: Bold as Love with ten December concert and TV/radio appearances. On Dec. 8, they performed “Spanish Castle Magic” for the ATV variety program Good Evening. On the 12th, Hendrix jammed with Fairport Convention at the Speakeasy. On the 15th, the Experience appeared on the BBC radio program Top Gear, which aired their renditions of five songs: “Wait Until Tomorrow,” “Radio One,” “Spanish Castle Magic,” the Beatles “Day Tripper” and the new Hendrix original “Hear My Train a Comin,” a Delta blues-style number.
On Dec. 19, Hendrix did an impromptu rendition of “Hear My Train a Comin” at Bruce Fleming’s studio, where filmmaker Peter Neal filmed Jimi for a proposed Experience documentary. In the footage, Hendrix plays a twelve-string Zemaitis acoustic guitar while stool-seated against a white background. This is the only known professional recording of Hendrix on acoustic guitar.
On Dec. 22, the Experience performed three numbers (“Sgt. Pepper,” “Foxey Lady,” “Wild Thing”) at London’s Kensington Olympia venue as part of Christmas on Earth, a holiday event with sets by Eric Burdon & the Animals, The Move, Pink Floyd (their last show with Syd Barrett), Soft Machine, Tomorrow, and Graham Bond. On Dec. 31, Hendrix joined a New Year’s Eve after-party at the Speakeasy, where he played a thirty-minute version of “Auld Lang Syne.”
Axis: Bold as Love reached No. 5 in the UK, No. 12 in Norway, and placed just outside the German Top 20.
On January 15, 1968, Reprise issued Axis: Bold as Love in the US, where it reached No. 6 on the Top R&B Albums chart and No. 3 on the Billboard 200. In February, “Up from the Skies” became the fourth US Experience single (b/w “One Rainy Wish”). Months later, Polydor issued the single in Germany and Italy in a multi-colored sleeve.
With Hendrix now a bonafide superstar, Ed Chalpin (who legally had the artist under contract) cashed in on his associated with Get That Feeling, an album of 1965 jam sessions by Curtis Knight & the Squires. The album appeared on Capitol (US) and London Records (UK) under the billing “Jimi Hendrix plays and Curtis Knight sings.”
On January 4, 1968, the Jimi Hendrix Experience played two shows at the Lorensberg Cirkus Teatern in Gothenburg, Sweden, with support by local psychsters Baby Grandmothers and Mecki Mark Men. After the show, Gothenburg police arrested Jimi for alleged vandalism of his room at the Hotel Opalen.
On Jan. 7, the Experience played two shows at Copenhagen’s Tivolis Konsertsal with support by friends Hansson & Karlsson, whose 1967 debut album Momument contains “Tax Free,” a song that Hendrix added to his live set. Later that month, Jimi jammed with Sam Gopal’s Dream (1/22: Speakeasy) and the Experience headlined in Paris with support by Eric Burdon & the Animals (1/29: L’Olympia).
Hendrix opened February with four straight Bat Area dates with Albert King and John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers at the Fillmore West (2/1, 2/4) and the Winterland Ballroom (2/2–3). On Feb. 5, the Experience launched a 38-date North American tour with at Arizona State University with Soft Machine, an English psych-rock trio with avant-garde jazz leanings.
The Jimi Hendrix Experience and Soft Machine swung through multiple areas with local third- and fourth-billed acts, including Blue Cheer and the Electric Flag (2/10: Shrine Auditorium, LA), The Moving Sidewalks (2/15–18: Texas), MC5 and The Rationals (2/23: Masonic Temple, Detroit), and The Paupers (2/24: CNE Coliseum Arena, Toronto). After a round of March Midwest dates, Chas Chandler took both bands to New York’s newly built Record Plant Studios, where Soft Machine recorded their debut album and the Experience laid tracks for their third.
On April 8, Hendrix attended a show by Chicago bluesman Buddy Guy at NY’s Generation Club, where the two guitarists held an impromptu jam.
On April 12, 1968, Track Record issued Smash Hits, a collection of the first four UK Experience a- and b-sides, plus four tracks from the UK version of Are You Experienced — “Fire,” “Can You See Me,” “Manic Depression,” and “Foxy Lady.” The cover shows Hendrix at three angles by veteran photojournalist Dezo Hoffmann.
Smash Hits reached No. 4 on the UK Albums Chart. Polydor issued the album in Europe but Reprise (North America) held off for the time being.
On May 10, the Jimi Hendrix Experience performed two shows at New York’s Fillmore East with Sly & the Family Stone. On Saturday the 18th, Hendrix closed the Miami Pop Festival, a scheduled two-day event at the Gulf Stream Race Track in Hallandale with sets by Blue Cheer, the Crazy World of Arthur Brown, John Lee Hooker, and Frank Zappa & the Mothers Invention. (Rain caused the cancellation of Day 2). While in Miami, Hendrix jammed with Blues Image (5/19: Thee Image Club) and Arthur Brown and Zappa (5/20: The Wreck Bar, Castaways Hotel).
In late May, the Jimi Hendrix Experience did four shows in Italy, then flew to Zurich for Monsterkonzert, a two-day event (May 30–31) at Hallenstadion with sets by The Koobas, Eric Burdon & the Animals, The Move, Traffic, and opening act Anselmo Trend, led by guitarist Walty Anselmo, who the MC announced as “the Swiss Hendrix” (he subsequently formed Krokodil, a leading seventies Swiss rock band). Contrary to promo flyers, Cream didn’t appear at Monsterkonzert, an event somewhat marred by heavy-handed security measures.
On June 5, the Experience dropped by Elstree Studios to perform a new song, “Voodoo Chile (Slight Return),” on It Must Be Dusty, an ITV music program hosted by Dusty Springfield. For the broadcast, Hendrix dueted with the singer on her 1965 hit “Mockingbird,” a song first recorded in 1963 by Charlie & Inez Foxx.
Days later, Hendrix flew back to New York to continue work on the third Experience album. Meanwhile, Redding formed Fat Mattress, an English folk-rock band in which he reverted to guitar. This reduced his availability for the Record Plant sessions, where Hendrix doubled as the bassist on most tracks.
On June 8, Hendrix joined the Electric Flag onstage at the Fillmore East for renditions of “South Saturn Delta” and “Hey Joe,” sung by their drummer Buddy Miles. On June 16, Hendrix jammed with Jeff Beck at Daytop Under the Stars Music Festival, a four-day event at Daytop Village on Staten Island with sets by Duke Ellington, Blood, Sweat & Tears, and Hugh Masekela. On June 22, he jammed with Beck’s group (including singer Rod Stewart) at Manhattan haunt The Scene, where Jimi reverse-played Jeff’s right-handed Les Paul.
On July 6, the Jimi Hendrix Experience played the Woburn Abbey in Bedfordshire as part of the Woburn Music Festival, supported by Tyrannosaurus Rex, Family, Geno Washington, and Pentangle.
On July 30, the Experience launched another US leg with Soft Machine at the Lakeshore Auditorium in Baton Rouge. Soft Machine, who alternated the support slot with Eire Apparent, hired a fourth member: guitarist Andy Summers, recently of Zoot Money’s Big Roll Band and its psychedelic alter ego Dantalian’s Chariot. On August 17, the Experience played two shows at Atlanta’s Municipal Auditorium: the first with Eire Apparent and the Amboy Dukes; the second with Vanilla Fudge.
On August 23, the Jimi Hendrix Experience played the New York Rock Festival, a Friday fortnight event at Singer Bowl in Flushing Meadow Park, Queens, with sets by The Doors, The Rascals, The Vagrants, and The Who. The Experience played on the second Friday with Soft Machine, The Chambers Brothers, and Big Brother & the Holding Company.
Meanwhile, Ed Chalpin further milked his Hendrix association with two albums of 1965 Curtis Knight & The Squires demos: Strange Things (aka Flashing) and Day Tripper, the latter issued in Canada on Quality Records. Both albums use Jimi’s current likeness with his name in large bold type over Knight’s.
“All Along the Watchtower”
On September 2, 1968, the Jimi Hendrix Experience released their fifth US single: “All Along the Watchtower,” a Bob Dylan cover backed with “Burning of the Midnight Lamp,” the 1967 Track–Reprise a-side with no prior North American release.
Dylan originated “All Along the Watchtower” on his December 1967 release John Wesley Harding. In early 1968, the Alan Bown Set (fronted by Jess Roden) released the first cover version on their debut album Outward Bown.
Hendrix gained access to a pre-release reel of Wesley Harding songs and first considered “I Dreamed I Saw St. Augustine” as a possible cover. He laid the initial tracks for his arrangement of “All Along the Watchtower” in January 21, 1968, at Olympic Studios. The Experience completed the song between June and August at the Record Plant with contributions by Traffic’s Dave Mason (12-string guitar) and Stones multi-instrumentalist Brian Jones (vibraslap).
On September 18, the Experience jammed with Buddy Miles, Eric Burdon, and Graham Bond at the Whiskey A Go Go in Los Angeles. Meanwhile, Hendrix played bass on the demo “Slow Walkin’ Talk” by Soft Machine drummer–singer Robert Wyatt. (The recording surfaced on the rarities release ’68).
In the UK, Track issued “All Along the Watchtower” on October 18, one week prior to the corresponding Hendrix album. Polydor packed the single in select European territories (Austria, Germany, Italy, Norway) in a blue–red picture sleeve. The Euro “Watchtower” b-side is the Track–Polydor Are You Experienced cut “Can You Hear Me.”
The Jimi Hendrix Experience released their third album, Electric Ladyland, on October 25, 1968, on Track (UK), Polydor (Europe, Japan, Oceania), and Reprise (North America). It’s a two-record set (73:56 run time) with “All Along the Watchtower” and thirteen Hendrix originals, including the recent concert staple “Voodoo Child (Slight Return)” and the August 1967 UK–Euro a-side “Burning of the Midnight Lamp.”
Electric Ladyland also features the Redding contribution “Little Miss Strange” and the blues standard “Come On,” a 1960 song by New Orleans bluesman Earl King.
1. “… And the Gods Made Love” (1:19)
2. “Have You Ever Been (To Electric Ladyland)” (2:08)
3. “Crosstown Traffic” (2:25)
4. “Voodoo Chile” (14:50)
1. “Little Miss Strange” (2:47) is the second of two Experience songs by Redding. It features him on lead vocals and acoustic guitar.
2. “Long Hot Summer Night” (3:21)
3. “Come On (Part 1)” (4:04) originated as a late-1960 Imperial Records a-side by Earl King (b/w “Come On (Part 2)”), who based the lyrics on the 1946 jump-blues standard “Let the Good Times Roll” by Louis Jordan & the Tympany Five. The song became an instant Seattle-area staple, which Hendrix knew from his time in the Tomcats. Pre-Experience covers include 1963–64 versions by Emerald City garage-rockers The Viceroys and The Dynamics.
4. “Gypsy Eyes” (3:38)
5. “Burning of the Midnight Lamp” (3:33)
1. “Rainy Day, Dream Away” (3:39)
2. “1983….(A Merman I Should Turn to Be)” (3:25)
3. “Moon, Turn the Tides….Gently Gently Away” (0:58)
1. “Still Raining, Still Dreaming” (4:19)
2. “House Burning Down” (4:26)
3. “All Along the Watchtower” (3:54)
4. “Voodoo Child (Slight Return)” (5:06)
Apart from “Burning of the Midnight Lamp” — recorded with its b-side (“The Stars That Play with Laughing Sam’s Dice”) in July 1967 at New York’s Mayfair Studios — Hendrix recorded Electric Ladyland in two stages. The first round took place in December 1967 and January 1968 at Olympic Studios. The second occurred between April and August 1968 at the Record Plant.
Eddie Kramer engineered the Olympic sessions (“Crosstown Traffic,” “Little Miss Strange”) amid projects with Graffiti, Family (Music In a Doll’s House), Traffic (self-titled), and The Rolling Stones (Beggar’s Banquet). “Midnight Lamp” engineer Gary Kellgren handled the Record Plant sessions (“House Burning Down,” “Gypsy Eyes,” “Voodoo Chile”) in sequence with albums by Harvey Mandell, Harumi, Ill Wind, The Mothers of Invention (We’re Only In It for the Money), and The Velvet Underground. Both soundmen worked on the 1968 Capitol release The Early Bird Cafe by The Serfs and the two MGM albums by Boston psych-rockers Beacon Street Union.
At Record Plant, Jimi’s increased perfectionism and time-consuming takes clashed with Chas Chandler’s expedient approach. One track, “Gypsy Eyes,” involved fifty takes across three sessions between Hendrix and Mitchell. Jimi’s work intensity (and embrace of over-capacity studio guests) prompted Chandler to break ties with the artist as the album neared completion. Hendrix took credit as sole producer on Electric Ladyland. (Chandler resurfaced the following year with a new client, Ambrose Slade, who rocketed to UK fame as Slade. His ex-partner, onetime Animals manager Michael Jeffery, assumed Jimi’s management.)
Redding plays bass on only five songs: “Crosstown Traffic,” “Little Miss Strange,” “Come On,” “Voodoo Child (Slight Return),” and the earlier single “Burning of the Midnight Lamp.” Hendrix plays bass on the balance apart from “Voodoo Chile,” which features Jefferson Airplane bassist Jack Casady.
Other musical guests on Electric Ladyland include Traffic members Steve Winwood (Hammond organ on “Voodoo Chile”) and Chris Wood (flute on “1983… (A Merman I Should Turn to Be)”). Al Kooper plays piano on “Long Hot Summer Night.”
Buddy Miles drums on “Rainy Day, Dream Away” and “Still Raining, Still Dreaming.” Both tracks also feature three Serfs: tenor saxophonist Freddie Smith, organist Mike Finnigan, and percussionist Larry Faucette.
Leftover recordings from the Record Plant sessions include “3 Little Bears,” “South Saturn Delta,” “Cherokee Mist,” “Yes I Need Someone,” and “Let Me Stay.”
Reprise copies of Electric Ladyland are housed in a gatefold sleeve a zoomed, red–yellow-tinted Hendrix upshot (front) and a solemn group shot (back) by Karl Ferris, who captured the cover photo during a show at Saville Theatre. The inner-gates feature a panel of credits surrounded by monochrome studio pics of the band and crew by Town & Country and Rolling Stone photographer Linda Eastman, who recently got engaged to Paul McCartney.
Hendrix wrote the liner notes, “Letter to the Room Full of Mirrors,” dated September 4, 1968, in Denver, Colorado. The credits further state “We dedicate this album to acoustic and electric woman and man alike.”
For the UK release of Electric Ladyland, Track’s David King designed a different gatefold sleeve, which shows nineteen nude women lounged against a black background by Track photographer David Montgomery. The vertical inner-gates feature a color photo of Hendrix engulfed in smoke with small sepia pics of Mitchell and Redding. Most Track copies were distributed with the gates folded inside out.
In Polydor’s European territories, Electric Ladyland features the Reprise back cover as the front cover. In Peru, the Track inner-gate Hendrix show appears on front. Uruguayan copies sport the title Electric Ladylan with a purple monochrome pic. On the French Barclay pressing, Jimi’s finger (floral clad) points down at his picture. Barclay reissued Electric Ladyland in 1975 with a gradient line art illustration that depicts Hendrix as an anguished, dripping figure with a wrecked, bulb-emitting hybrid guitar.
On November 18, 1968, Reprise lifted “Crosstown Traffic” as the sixth US Experience single (b/w “Gypsy Eyes”). Meanwhile, the Jimi Hendrix Experience mimed “All Along the Watchtower” for the Novemver 14 broadcast of TotP.
Electric Ladyland reached No. 6 on the UK Albums Chart. In North America, it reached No. 1 on the Canadian RPM Top 50 and the US Billboard 200. It also reached No. 5 on the Top R&B Albums chart.
In 1969, Track issued the two records seperately as Electric Ladyland Part 1 (Sides D and C) and Electric Ladyland Part 2 (Sides A and B). Part 1 has a new cover illustration that shows the Experience on a spacecraft atop a hill that overlooks a valley with multiple instances of Lady Liberty and the Chrysler Building amid UFOs, rockets, and spherical objects under a yellow sky. Part 2 features cropped imagery from the 1968 Track inner-gate.
Multiple covers aside, Jimi’s first choice was an Eastman photo of the Experience pictured with children on the Alice in Wonderland sculpture in Central Park. This image finally appeared on the 50th Anniversary Electric Ladyland reissue on Legacy–Sony.
As the project wrapped, Hendrix and Jeffery made a joint investment in the Generation Club in Greenwich Village with the intention to turn it into a rock venue. When Hendrix saw the Electric Ladyland recording budget (roughly $300,000), he decided to convert the space into his own recording studio. The renovation took more than eighteen months.
On January 4, 1969, the Jimi Hendrix Experience appeared on Happening For Lulu, a BBC variety program hosted by Scottish pop singer Lulu. They performed “Voodoo Chile (Slight Return)” and started “Hey Joe,” which Hendrix cut short for an impromptu rendition of “Sunshine of Your Love,” performed as a tribute to the recently-disbanded Cream.
In Scandinavia, the Experience played with Jethro Tull in Stockholm (1/9: Konserthuset) and Copenhagen (1/10: Falkoner Centret). On January 11, they commenced an eight-date German tour with Eire Apparent at Hamburg’s Musikhalle. Hendrix produced their singular album Sunrise, which appeared in May 1969 on Buddah with uncredited guest appearances by Mitchell and Redding.
On February 24, the Experience headlined London’s Royal Albert Hall with support by two acts: newcomers Van Der Graaf Generator and Redding’s Fat Mattress. In March, Hendrix held impromptu jams with Billy Preston (3/6: Speakeasy) and Roland Kirk (3/8: Ronnie Scott’s Club). Hendrix flew back to the US, where he attended a March 30 show at the Hollywood Palladium by Delaney & Bonnie and joined them onstage for a jam that featured a new song, “Room Full of Mirrors.”
The Experience commenced a 24-date North American tour on April 11 at the Dorton Arena in Raleigh, North Carolina. Fat Mattress opened this and five subsequent dates on the tour. On these occasions, Redding played two nightly shows. On April 24, the Experience played the Forum in Inglewood, California, with openers Chicago Transit Authority, who plugged their just-released debut album. Chicago guitarist Terry Kath impressed Hendrix, who purportedly gave high praise to the newcomer. Additional acts on the April–May dates included Cat Mother and the Buddy Miles Express.
Meanwhile, Hendrix covers proliferated in 1969 across the US. Philly power-trio Thunder and Roses cover “Red House” on their singular album King of the Black Sunrise. Chicago soul-psychsters Rotary Connection (with Minnie Riperton) cover “Burning of the Midnight Lamp” on Songs, an all-covers album. Pittsburgh garage-rockers The Racket Squad cover “Little Wing” on Corners of Your Mind, their second of two albums. The New York Rock & Roll Ensemble cover “Wait Until Tomorrow” on Faithful Friends, their second album.
The trend took hold in other counties. London blues-rockers Savoy Brown cover “Purple Haze” on A Step Further, their third album. Peruvian psychsters Traffic Sound cover “Fire” on A Bailar Go-Go, their debut album. Japanese psychsters Yuya Uchida & The Flowers cover “Stone Free” on Challenge!, where they also appropriate the Hendrix arrangement of “Hey Joe.”
On May 25, the Experience and Fat Mattress played the Santa Clara Pop Festival, a three-day event at the County Fairgrounds in San Jose with two-dozen acts, including Spirit, Canned Heat, The Youngbloods, Steve Miller Band, Taj Mahal, Lee Michaels, Blues Image, Santana, Aum, People!, Linn County, and The Loading Zone.
On Friday, June 20, the Jimi Hendrix Experience headlined Day 1 of the Newport Pop Festival, a three-day weekend event at Devonshire Downs in Northridge, California with sets by Ike & Tina Turner, Joe Cocker, Don Ellis, The Flock, Love, Steppenwolf, WAR, and twenty-four other acts. Hendrix returned to the stage on Day 3 for jams with Mother Earth, Eric Burdon, and Buddy Miles. The event, which drew some 200,000 attendees, was marred by rioting and vandalism to the festival grounds and surrounding properties.
On June 29, the Experience closed Day 3 of the Denver Pop Festival, which occurred at the Mile High Stadium with sets by Aorta, Iron Butterfly, Love Sculpture, Tim Buckley, Zephyr, and Frank Zappa. The Experience narrowly escaped the riotous, besieged event in a swarmed, damaged truck. This would be their final show.
Redding left after the tour to concentrate on Fat Mattress, which released their debut album in August 1969 on Polydor. Mitchell stayed in Jimi’s orbit but got tied to other projects, including Fiends & Angels, the debut album by singer Martha Velez.
On July 30, 1969, Reprise issued the 1968 Track–Polydor comp Smash Hits in North America. This version drops “Hey Joe,” “Burning of the Midnight Lamp,” and three UK–Euro b-sides (“51st Anniversary,” “Highway Chile,” “The Stars That Play with Laughing Sam’s Dice”) but includes the three Are You Experienced numbers omitted from the Reprise version (“Can You See Me,” “Remember,” “Red House”), plus “Stone Free” and the recent Electric Ladyland a-sides “All Along the Watchtower” and “Crosstown Traffic.” The version of “Red House” is an alternate stereo take not heard on the original mono album.
This version of Smash Hits features back-cover pics and a poster insert by Ed Thrasher, who photographed the Experience on horseback outside a frontier saloon dressed as cowboys (Mitchell, Redding) and an Indian (Hendrix).
On the morning of Monday, August 18, 1969, Hendrix played the closing set at Woodstock, a four-day weekend event that drew some 500,000 people to Max Yasgur’s dairy farm in Bethel, New York. Woodstock featured thirty-two acts, including Bert Sommer, Blood, Sweat & Tears, Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, The Incredible String Band, Keef Hartley Band, and Mountain.
For his set, Hendrix assembled Gypsy Sun and Rainbows, a makeshift band with rhythm guitarist Larry Lee (Brothers Unlimited) and conga players Juma Sultan and Jerry Velez (Martha’s brother).
Gypsy Sun and Rainbows took the stage after the scheduled finale at 8:30 am, by which time audience numbers dwindled to 30,000. He introduced his band to the crowd as “nothin’ but a band of gypsys.” Despite three sleepless days, Hendrix played one of his longest straight sets at nearly two hours. He performed eighteen numbers, including an impromptu jam (“Woodstock Improvisation”), a slow unaccompanied blues (“Villanova Junction”), and an explosive, dissonant version of “The Star-Spangled Banner.”
On September 5, Hendrix and his band played a benefit show for the Harlem Neighborhood Block Association with support by Sam & Dave and Big Maybelle. On Tuesday, Sept. 9, he appeared on The Dick Cavett Show, an ABC variety program. Cavett conducted a six-minute interview with the sleep-deprived guitarist, who performed two new songs, “Izabella” and “Machine Gun,” backed by Mitchell, Cox, and Sultan.
On September 15, 1969, Reprise issued “Stone Free” as the seventh US Experience single, backed with the Axis track “If 6 Was 9.” Hendrix re-recorded “Stone Free” in stereo in April 1969 with Mitchell and Redding. It was the final session of the original Experience lineup.
Jimi cut the new version — which features backing vocals by Roger Chapman (Family) and Andy Fairweather Low (Amen Corner) — in anticipation of a long-awaited US release of “Stone Free” (which remained unavailable in North America until the July 1969 Reprise Smash Hits). Despite this, Reprise used the original 1966 mono version of “Stone Free” for the compilation and single. (The 1969 remake remained unavailable until the 1975 compilation Crash Landing.)
On November 14, 1969, Track issued a new Jimi Hendrix Experience single: “Let Me Light Your Fire,” a re-titled stereo version of the Experienced album track “Fire.” The b-side is the thematically similar “Burning of the Midnight Lamp.” Track retitled the a-side to avoid confusion with a recent hit for the label, “Fire” by the Crazy World of Arthur Brown. Though Hendrix sings “Let me stand next to your fire” in the chorus, Track purportedly thought “light your fire” would have a spicier ring. In Europe, Polydor issued the single in Germany, Italy, and Spain, each with a different picture sleeve.
Both singles kept the Experience name alive in the marketplace despite the fact that the band was nonextant. Hendrix assembled Billy Cox and Buddy Miles for a new trio, the Band of Gypsys, named after his remark at Woodstock.
The Band of Gypsys made their live debut on New Year’s Eve 1969 with two shows (7.30 and 10.30) at the Fillmore East with support by Voices of East Harlem. Songs performed included “Izabella” and the new Hendrix numbers “Lover Man,” “Ezy Ryder,” and “Power to Love” (introduced as “Paper Airplanes”).
The Band of Gypsys opened 1970 with their second of two consecutive nights at the Fillmore, where they played two January 1 shows at 8:00 and 11:30 pm.
Their setlist for the first show included “Power to Love” and two recent staples (“Machine Gun,” “Hear My Train a Comin”’) and four new Hendrix songs (“Who Knows,” “Stepping Stone,” “Earth Blues,” “Burning Desire”), plus one Experience evergreen (“Foxy Lady”) and a Howard Tate cover (“Stop”). Buddy sang lead on his own number, “Them Changes.”
The second show setlist featured repeated four numbers and added “Stone Free,” “Voodoo Child (Slight Return),” and Buddy’s “We Gotta Live Together,” plus the new Hendrix song “Message to Love.” For an encore, the Band of Gypsys performed “Wild Thing,” “Hey Joe,” and “Purple Haze.” Later, they held an after-show jam at Ungano’s on West 70 St. with Elvin Bishop.
On January 28, 1970, Jimi Hendrix & His Band of Gypsys appeared the Winter Festival for Peace, a five-hour event at Madison Square Garden with sets by BS&T, Dave Brubeck, Peter Paul & Mary, Ritchie Havens, and singer–actor Harry Belafonte. The Gypsys managed one number (“Who Knows”) before an intoxicated Hendrix cut short the second (“Earth Blues”) with a bleak aside (“That’s what happens when earth fucks with space”) and slouched on the drum riser, then walked off stage.
Band of Gypsys
On March 25, 1970, Jimi Hendrix released Band of Gypsys on Capitol (US). It contains six numbers (45:16 run time) from their January 1 Fillmore performances. Side one has two songs from the early evening set (“Who Knows,” “Machine Gun”); side two contains four from the late-night set, including “Them Changes” (identified as “Changes”) and “Power to Love” (identified as “Power of Soul” on Track–Polydor copies).
Hendrix and Buddy Miles share lead vocals on side one and “Power to Love.” Side two features solo vocals by Miles (“Changes”) and Hendrix (“Message of Love”). The closing track, Buddy’s “We Gotta Live Together,” is co-sung by Miles, Hendrix, and Billy Cox.
1. “Who Knows” (9:34)
2. “Machine Gun” (12:38)
1. “Changes” (5:11)
2. “Power to Love” (6:55) Within months, Peruvian hard-rockers Gerardo Manuel & Humo covered “Power of Soul” in Spanish (“Poder Del Alma”) on their 1970 album Apocallypsis.
3. “Message of Love” (5:24)
4. “We Gotta Live Together” (5:51)
Veteran jazz soundman Wally Heider engineered the Fillmore East concert recordings, which Eddie Kramer mixed into Band of Gypsys. Graphic artist Victor Kahn designed the gatefold cover art, which features tinted, saturated Fillmore live shots by photographer Jan Blom, who also did photography for the 1970 Voices of East Harlem album and subsequent titles by If and Joe Bataan. Kahn also did visual work on Fiends & Angels and 1969–70 albums by Frijid Pink and The Rolling Stones (Let It Bleed).
In the UK, Band of Gypsys appeared on June 12, 1970, on Track in a single sleeve with images of puppets made by one Saskia De Boer. The back cover shows a Hendrix puppet wielding a toy guitar; the front shows it grouped with puppets of Brian Jones, Bob Dylan, and BBC Radio One DJ John Peel. In Europe, Polydor issued Band of Gypsys in a single sleeve with the front- and back-gate images of the Capitol version.
Months later, Track withdrew the puppets cover and reissued Band of Gypsys in a gatefold sleeve designed by Graphreaks. This version has a vertical upshot of Hendrix in a colored kaftan by photographer Peter Sanders, who captured the image at the August 1970 Isle of Wight Festival. Sanders also has visual credits on 1969–70 albums by Beau, East of Eden, Tyrannosaurus Rex, and Yes.
The Capitol release was, in part, a payback to Ed Chalpin, who was legally entitled to one album of new Hendrix material. By the time of its release, the Gypsys had dissolved in light of the ill-fated Jan. 28 show. Nonetheless, Band of Gypsys reached No. 5 in the US and Canada and No. 4 in Australia. It also went Top 10 in the UK (No. 6), Netherlands (No. 7), and Norway (No. 9).
On April 13, 1970, Reprise issued a Gypsys single with two further numbers from the Fillmore shows: “Stepping Stone” and “Izabella.”
In the early months of 1970, Hendrix worked on a fourth studio album, tentatively titled The Cry of Love, the name of his spring–summer US tour. He formed a trio with Cox and Mitchell, promoted in select media as a new Experience lineup. The tour commenced on April 25 at the Inglewood Forum with support by Ballin’ Jack and the Buddy Miles Express, whose concurrent Mercury release Them Changes contains an alternate version of the Gypsys concert number.
The Cry of Love tour covered twenty-eight cities with thirty-two performances, including dates with Blue Mountain Eagle (4/26: State Fairgrounds, Sacramento), Savage Grace (5/2: Dane County Memorial Coliseum, Madison), Bloodrock (5/8: University of Oklahoma Field House, Norman), Cactus (5/16: Temple University Stadium, Philadelphia), Tower of Power (5/30: Berkeley Community Theatre), and three Texas stops with Ballin’ Jack.
On June 15, 1970, Hendrix entered the nearly completed recording facility in the former Generation Club, since renamed Electric Lady Studios. That day, he jammed with Electric Ladyland guests Winwood and Wood (then reforming Traffic after Steve’s time in Blind Faith). Hours later, Hendrix recorded a new song, “Night Bird Flying.” The studio would open for business on August 25.
On July 4, Hendrix played the second Atlanta International Pop Festival, a three-day event at the Middle Georgia Raceway in Byron with sets by the Allman Brothers Band, Bloomsbury People, Hampton Grease Band, It’s a Beautiful Day, Mott the Hoople, Mountain, Procol Harum, Terry Reid, and multiple acts from the Cry of Love tour. Here, before his largest-ever audience of some 500,000 attendees.
On July 17, Hendrix played the first day of the New York Pop Festival, a three-day event at Downing Stadium on Randall’s Island with sets by Grand Funk Railroad, Jethro Tull, Joe Cocker, Steppenwolf, Van Morrison, and Tony Williams Lifetime. After a round of West Coast stops — including Seattle (7/26: Sicks Stadium) — Hendrix played his last-ever US show on August 1, 1970, at Honolulu International Center with support by the Lucky Mud Traveling Medicine Show. He retreated to Electric Lady for several weeks before flying overseas for a round of UK–European dates.
Hendrix headlined the fifth and final day of the 1970 Isle of Wight Festival in Afton on the British Isle of Wight. The event featured sets by Emerson, Lake & Palmer, Fairfield Parlour, Gary Farr, Gracious!, Groundhogs, Hawkwind, Joni Mitchell, Lighthouse, Mighty Baby, Miles Davis, Pink Fairies, Supertramp, T2, and Taste. Hendrix took the stage on Sunday, August 30, after sets by Donovan, Free, Heaven, Jethro Tull, The Moody Blues, and Pentangle.
On September 2, Hendrix cancelled a date at the Vejlby Risskov Hallen in Arhus, Denmark, where his support act, Americana guitarist Leo Kottke, filled out the set. The following night, Hendrix played Copenhagen’s K.B. Hallen with Blue Sun. In Germany, he appeared at Berlin’s Deutschlandhalle for Super Concert ’70, which also featured Procol Harum, Cold Blood, and Murphy Blend.
On September 6, Hendrix played the Fehmarn Love and Peace Festival, a three-day event on Mecklenburg Bay on the Isle of Fehmarn with sets by Aardvark, Burnin Red Ivanhoe, Colosseum, Cravinkel, Embryo, Faces, Fotheringay, Frumpy, Ginger Baker’s Air Force, John Surman Trio, Kluster, Renaissance, Thrice Mice, and Witthüser & Westrupp. This would be Jimi’s final concert performance. He cancelled a Rotterdam show booked for Sept. 13 due to health problems suffered by Cox, who left the band flew back to the US.
Jimi Hendrix made his final public appearance on September 16, 1970, in London at Ronnie Scott’s, where he jammed with Eric Burdon and War on two impromptu numbers: “Tobacco Road” and the Memphis Slim chestnut “Mother Earth.”
Hendrix spent Thursday, September 17, 1970, in London with German figure skater Monika Dannemann, who photographed him in the garden outside her apartment at the Samarkand Hotel on 22 Lansdowne Crescent in Notting Hill. In the photos, he holds his black Fender Stratocaster (the “Black Beauty”) and sits at a tea table; clad in a deep-blue jacket, light-blue ascot, and black pants. These are the final photos taken of the artist.
That afternoon, he wrote a set of lyrics titled “The Story of Life,” which ends with a six-line stanza:
Of life is quicker
Than the wink of an eye
The story of love
Is hello and goodbye
Until we meet again
That evening, tensions erupted when the pair attended a party hosted by Devon Wilson, a member of Jimi’s entourage. While there, he consumed hashish and expressed doubts about his career and business situation. (He wished to break from Jeffery and messaged Chandler earlier that day.) Fellow guests took note of Monika’s temperament and several spats ensued before the two left at 3:00 am on Friday morning.
Jimi and Monika returned to the Samarkand and talked until 7:00 am. He asked for one of her sleeping tablets to counter the insomnia caused by his recent amphetamine use. She refused, but took her own and went to sleep beside him.
She awoke around 10:20 am, saw him sleeping soundly, and stepped out to buy cigarettes. When she returned at 11:00, she found him breathing but unresponsive. At 11:18, she phoned an ambulance, which arrived in twelve minutes. First responders reported finding him in a dark, empty room in sheets covered with vomit. They rushed him to St Mary Abbots Hospital, where doctors performed thirty minutes of resuscitation efforts.
Jimi Hendrix was pronounced dead on Friday, September 18, 1970, at 12:45 pm. He was 27 years old. Coroners determined that he consumed nine of Monika’s sleeping tablets. The inquest ruled that he died of asphyxia caused by barbiturate intoxication.
Hours earlier, Eric Burdon stopped by the Samarkand and found Hendrix dead before paramedics arrived on the scene. He quickly dispensed of ‘incriminating’ evidence (drugs) in Monika’s apartment and discovered Jimi’s handwritten lyrics to “The Story of Life,” which he initially interpreted as a suicide note.
The following day, Jimi’s embalmed body was flown to Seattle, where a service took place on October 1. He was interred at Greenwood Cemetery in Renton, Washington. More than 200 people attended his funeral, including Noel Redding, Mitch Mitchell, Johnny Winter, Miles Davis, and John Hammond.
- Are You Experienced (1967 • The Jimi Hendrix Experience)
- Axis: Bold as Love (1967 • The Jimi Hendrix Experience)
- Electric Ladyland (2LP, 1968 • The Jimi Hendrix Experience)
- Band of Gypsys (1970 • Hendrix)
- The Cry of Love (1971)
- Discogs: Jimi Hendrix
- 45worlds: Jimi Hendrix
- 45cat: Jimi Hendrix
- Concerts Wiki: Jimi Hendrix
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