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The Jimi Hendrix Experience, in their early foray into the American music scene, made a significant mark with their performance at the Hollywood Bowl in August 1967. This event underscored the remarkable, yet challenging journey of Jimi Hendrix in cementing his musical legacy. Despite facing hurdles like racial discrimination, managerial hurdles, and his steadfast commitment to his artistic vision, Jimi Hendrix’s career was a testament to his relentless pursuit of acceptance on his own terms.

The Hollywood Bowl concert on August 18, 1967, stands as a critical point in this journey. After forming the Jimi Hendrix Experience in London in late 1966, the trio, comprising Seattle-born Jimi Hendrix, British drummer Mitch Mitchell, and bassist Noel Redding, had yet to make a significant impact in the U.S. Following their headline performance at the 1967 Monterey Pop Festival and a challenging tour with The Monkees, the group arrived at the Hollywood Bowl. Invited by John Phillips, they performed alongside his group, the Mamas And The Papas, and opener Scott McKenzie.

The Experience, after Jimi Hendrix’s move to London in September 1966, quickly achieved commercial success. They released three top 10 singles and delivered performances that captivated audiences, earning acclaim from music greats like Paul McCartney, Eric Clapton, and Jeff Beck. This buzz led to a deal with Reprise Records in the U.S., confirmed in March 1967. Then, in June, under McCartney’s recommendation, the Jimi Hendrix Experience had their resounding U.S. debut at the Monterey International Pop Festival, setting the stage for their night at the Hollywood Bowl.

 

The Jimi Hendrix Experience Concert at the Hollywood Bowl

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Even with the technical constraints of the original two-track recordings, the raw energy of the Jimi Hendrix Experience shines through undiminished. Jimi Hendrix’s mastery of the guitar is evident in tracks like the underrated U.S. single “Purple Haze,” while his bandmates contribute equally to the group’s dynamic sound.

The band, ready for the limelight, delivered an intense 40-minute set at the Hollywood Bowl. Their repertoire blended original hits like “Purple Haze” and “Fire” with powerful renditions of blues classics such as Howlin’ Wolf’s “Killing Floor” and Muddy Waters’ “Catfish Blues.” Their interpretation of Bob Dylan’s “Like a Rolling Stone” was equally impactful. The concert kicked off with an unconventional but electrifying cover of The Beatles’ “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band,” setting the stage for an evening of groundbreaking guitar performances.

Noel Redding’s exceptional bass skills are the foundation of a fiery “Catfish Blues,” complemented by Mitch Mitchell’s precise drum solo that showcases his jazz influences. The set also highlighted the softer side of the band, particularly in “The Wind Cries Mary,” and revealed the warmth and richness of Hendrix’s often-overlooked vocal talent.

As the set neared its end, Jimi Hendrix introduced “Wild Thing” by The Troggs with a pointed comment about the audience’s lukewarm reaction, dedicating the song to the band itself in a moment of candid frustration. This moment foreshadowed the significant shifts that were about to unfold in their career.

This performance, recorded merely five days before the U.S. release of their debut album ‘Are You Experienced’ and with ‘Axis: Bold As Love’ already prepared, represented a crucial moment in the band’s history. It was the sound of a groundbreaking group, poised on the brink of stardom, overcoming every obstacle with their innovative music and undeniable talent.

 

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Track Listing
  • 1. Introduction
  • 2. Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band
  • 3. Killing Floor
  • 4. The Wind Cries Mary
  • 5. Foxey Lady
  • 6. Catfish Blues
  • 7. Fire
  • 8. Like a Rolling Stone
  • 9. Purple Haze
  • 10. Wild Thing
Credits

Jimi Hendrix: Guitar, Lead Vocals

Mitch Mitchell: Drums

Noel Redding: Bass, Backing Vocals

Produced By Janie Hendrix, Eddie Kramer, & John McDermott for Experience Hendrix, L.L.C.

Engineered By Eddie Kramer

Mastered By Bernie Grundman

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