What a performance! From the moment that Jimi kicks into the electrifying opening guitar riff from Howlin’ Wolf’s Killing Floor to the destruction of western pop music on the Troggs’ Wild Thing, he’s really setting out his stable to American audiences.
I’ve always regarded Hendrix as a British act – two thirds of the Experience were English, and Jimi had to come to London to kick off his solo career. Who knows what would have happened if he’d have turned down Chas Chadler’s offer to go to London? Would he have kept playing as a sideman? Would he have been noticed in some other way? They say that the cream always rises to the top, but there are plenty of examples of people being overlooked completely, or finally noticed by the mainstream when they’re well past their prime.
This was the Experience’s first show on American soil, at what was undoubtedly an important performance. After winning a coin toss to decide who played first, The Who played before Hendix, resulting in Pete Townshend destroying his guitar and Keith Moon kicking over his drum kit. Hendrix and his band had to follow this, and it’s clear that they don’t sound intimidated or nervous. Hendrix would of course upstage the Who, by not only destroying his guitar but by setting fire to it (with the help of some lighter fluid).
I recently saw the Hendrix biopic Jimi: All Is By My Side. I was excited to see it; Jimi’s one of my musical heroes. I had heard that Hendrix’s estate had not authorised the use of any of Jimi’s songs in the film, and this didn’t sound very promising. In the end, I didn’t miss any of Hendrix’s songs (Stevie Nicks’ guitarist Waddy Wachtel – he of the Edge Of Seventeen riff from Bella Donna – does a great Hendrix imitation), André Benjamin was uncannily outstanding as Hendrix, and the film covered enough of the events from that London scene before he broke through.
The problem with the film seemed to be the editing. It really felt like we were watching something that hadn’t been finished. Such a shame really, as it ticked a lot of boxes and failed at the last hurdle in how it was presented. Aw shucks.
Hit: Hey Joe
Hidden Gem: Killing Floor