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Originally titled “Happening for Lulu,” this TV series aired on BBC1 between 1968 and 1969 and was hosted by Lulu where Stanley Dorfman was the producer. From the third episode, which aired on 11 January 1969, the title was changed to “Lulu.”

Notably, The Jimi Hendrix Experience faced a ban from the BBC after causing a disruption on the show by altering the setlist and playing beyond the scheduled time.

It was 1969, a groundbreaking era in rock ‘n’ roll history. The television studio of the BBC One show buzzed with the anticipation of a special guest. As the lights dimmed, none other than Jimi Hendrix, the left-handed guitar genius, and his band members – Noel Redding and Mitch Mitchell, collectively known as the “Hendrix Experience,” took center stage.

The British audience, accustomed to the more conventional format of British TV, were in for an unprecedented shock. Lulu, the pop sensation and host of the Lulu Show, had invited the American musician for what was expected to be a standard television appearance. The show’s itinerary had him starting with “Hey Joe.” But as Hendrix’s Fender Stratocaster reverberated through the television studio, something unexpected happened.

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Jimi & The Experience back in January 1969 on the Happening for Lulu Show

Hendrix’s tribute: The bold BBC Broadcast that rocked the world

The Jimi Hendrix Experience began their set with “Voodoo Child (Slight Return).” They then started playing “Hey Joe,” and that’s when Hendrix stopped the performance and transitioned into the tribute for Cream with “Sunshine of Your Love.” With a cheeky glint in his eyes, Instead of finishing “Hey Joe,” Hendrix abruptly stopped the performance to say, “We’d like to stop playing this rubbish and dedicate a song to Cream, regardless of what kind of group they may be in. We dedicate this to Eric Clapton, Ginger Baker, and Jack Bruce.” The band then began playing a rendition of “Sunshine of Your Love,” which was one of Cream’s most iconic songs.

The live broadcast caught everyone off guard. Lulu, the singer, and British pop icon, was caught between astonishment and admiration. Hendrix’s audacity was clear, breaking from the script, taking over the live music performance with an impromptu jam session that showcased his unprecedented skills. His Fender Stratocaster, combined with his experimental sound effects, displayed an artistic freedom seldom seen on the British Invasion-dominated TV scene.

BBC producers and showbiz experts hadn’t anticipated such an unscripted moment. The broadcasting interruption was against the norm, and rumors about a possible show cancellation due to Hendrix’s audacious act swirled. BBC Archives would later recount this historic broadcast as one of the most influential moments in broadcast history.

Lulu’s response after the incident with The Jimi Hendrix Experience

Jimi Hendrix and Lulu, January 1969
Jimi Hendrix and Lulu, January 1969,
Credit: soundsof71

In a recent chat with BBC Radio Scotland’s Billy Sloan, Lulu looked back on this surprising turn of events. Recounting the reaction from the BBC’s management staff, she revealed, “‘What the [f*ck?]’ they said.” The impromptu shift might have caused a stir at the time, but Lulu recognized its significance, noting, “He made it television history.

The spontaneous tribute was unexpected and unheard of, especially on the BBC at that time. Lulu elaborated, “You didn’t do things like that on BBC at that time, and it was live. So they couldn’t edit it.” She imagined the scene from the director’s chair, musing, “If I had been upstairs with the director or producer, and all the cameras were being directed, it would have been mayhem.”

Yet, despite the chaos and subsequent ban from the BBC, Lulu looks back on the incident with gratitude and fondness. “So, I was very glad for that. The people that remind me of that moment… I’ve seen it since.

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