The Jimi Hendrix Experience has a new live album coming out, bringing us previously unheard audio from the band’s 1967 set at the Hollywood Bowl, when they rocked up to support the Mamas & The Papas and sent 17,000 into a state of shock – and the latest track from the set, a helter-skelter cover of the Beatles’ Sgt Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band, has been shared ahead of its release on 10 November.
They had never seen anything like it, Hendrix, throttling a Fender Stratocaster, backed by the dynamic rhythm section of Noel Redding on the bass guitar, Mitch Mitchell on the drums. They had never heard anything like it. And those of us who were not in attendance that warm, late summer’s day, on 18 August, have never had a chance to hear it because until now it had never been released, never bootlegged, making The Jimi Hendrix Experience: Hollywood Bowl August 18, 1967 essential listening for any Hendrix fan.
It is one of the last recordings of Hendrix before he broke the States. It is the sound of a band coming back of the canvas at a time when success had proved hard to come by.
Their previous two singles flopped. Purple Haze never made the Top 50. Hey Joe didn’t even chart, which is remarkable to think on it now that given that it is so engrained in popular culture that it could be almost be considered naturally occurring ambience in guitar stores the world over.
But Hendrix represented a seismic change for electric guitar. Brian Ray, Paul McCartney’s long-time guitarist, was in attendance with his sister at the Hollywood Bowl. He says Hendrix’s physicality with the instrument changed everything..
“Here comes this guy and there's only three of them on stage and they have these afros and these wild, ornate, very theatrical clothes,” he said. “Jimi proceeds to shred, and it’s loud but it’s musical, and then it becomes so physical.
“He starts playing the guitar under his leg, and now it's behind his back, and now he’s playing it with his mouth, and now he’s on the ground on his knees and he's like humping it, and it, to me was mind blowing. It was sort of every human characteristic; it was beauty, grace, it was sexual, violent, gentle, it was just everything all at once in one band coming out of this one guy.”
Ray dug it. Not everyone could say the same thing. At least, not then. It would be interesting to hear how these Mamas & The Papas’ fans now look back on Hendrix.
Hendrix’s cover of Sgt Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band is the second track to be shared from the album, with Howlin’ Wolf’s Killing Floor released last month.
Hendrix’s producer Eddie Kramer restored the audio for the album, with Bernie Grundman mastering it. The Jimi Hendrix Experience: Hollywood Bowl August 18, 1967 is available to preorder via Experience Hendrix, L.L.C. in partnership with Legacy Recordings.