Share this page!

 

As Christmas 1969 approached, Jimi Hendrix, bassist Billy Cox, and drummer Buddy Miles found themselves immersed in extensive rehearsals for their highly anticipated performances at the Fillmore East in New York. This dynamic trio, aptly named the “Band of Gypsys” by Hendrix, worked passionately on new material, including iconic tracks like “Izabella” and “Machine Gun.”

In that year, Jimi Hendrix faced considerable pressure from his manager Mike Jeffery, and his record company to produce a follow-up to his immensely successful 1968 album, “Electric Ladyland”. Simultaneously, he was obligated to create an album’s worth of new material for Capitol Records to resolve a contract dispute with former manager Ed Chalpin and PPX Enterprises.

 

The looming expectations and contractual obligations added a unique dimension to the holiday rehearsals. The pressure to deliver a successful follow-up, combined with the need to satisfy contractual agreements, fueled Jimi Hendrix’s creative energy during these sessions. The Fillmore East concerts became a place for the birth of new material, including the now-iconic tracks that would later be featured in the “Jimi Hendrix Merry Christmas & Happy New Year” album.

The recording of this holiday medley took place at Baggy’s Studios, a Manhattan rehearsal facility favored by the group. It wasn’t a polished studio recording made to Jimi Hendrix’s exacting specifications but is, instead, a raw and revealing glimpse of Hendrix having fun in the company of close friends.

The iconic photograph of Jimi posing as Santa Claus, featured in this special release, originated as part of a promotional effort for the UK music newspaper Record Mirror in December 1967. Jimi Hendrix, in the spirit of the season, agreed to don the Santa suit to publicize the release of the group’s second album, “Axis: Bold As Love”. An alternate photograph from that session, with Jimi bearing gifts in the form of “Axis: Bold As Love”, adds a nostalgic touch to this holiday celebration.

As an additional treat, the release includes Jimi Hendrix’s playful “Three Little Bears.” Recorded with the Experience at the Record Plant in May 1968 during Electric Ladyland sessions, this track was initially bypassed for the album. It later found a home in the 1972 posthumous compilation War Heroes, making it a delightful bonus for fans.

 

In 1974, posthumously, Jimi Hendrix once again delved into the Christmas craze with a yuletide EP entitled “Merry Christmas And A Happy New Year.” This gem, often overshadowed by his more iconic work, resurfaced in 1999. A departure from the typical festive releases, Jimi Hendrix’s EP stands out for its unique blend of classic carols, including “The Little Drummer Boy,” “Silent Night,” and the traditional standard “Auld Lang Syne.”

The EP’s first track is a four-minute showcase of Jimi Hendrix’s guitar mastery, seamlessly blending classic carols into a modern marvel. The way he reinvents Robert Burns’ poem in his solo of “Auld Lang Syne” is nothing short of genius, a testament to Jimi Hendrix’s ability to breathe new life into the familiar.

The EP’s standout track, “Three Little Bears,” is a funky, plinky masterpiece featuring Jimi Hendrix’s warm vocals. While its connection to Christmas may be unclear, its brilliance is undeniable. It stands as one of the most pleasantly surprising moments in Jimi Hendrix’s extensive catalog, showcasing a funkier side that would later influence bands like Thin Lizzy in the ’70s.

Jimi Hendrix’s ability to transcend genres and expectations is evident in this Christmas offering. So, on Christmas day, amid the classic tunes of The Pogues, Mariah Carey, and Slade, don’t forget to add a touch of Jimi Hendrix’s magic to your playlist. His Christmas effort is not just a musical delight but an absolute joy that deserves a place among your holiday favorites.

If you’ve caught the holiday spirit with Jimi Hendrix’s festive magic, there’s more where that came from! Take a deep dive into our playlist of the season with our exploration of the Top 10 Best Rock Christmas Songs. From classic renditions to unexpected gems, this list is a rock lover’s guide to holiday cheer. Click here to explore and add some rockin’ spirit to your Christmas festivities.

 

Jimi Hendrix’s 10 Greatest Guitar Solos of All Time

Now, let’s dive into our ranked list of the Top 10 Jimi Hendrix Guitar Solos and discover the magic that continues to resonate through the G.O.A.T. of the guitar:

10. “Villanova Junction” (Woodstock, 1969)

On the grounds of Woodstock, Jimi Hendrix’s rendition of “Villanova Junction” wasn’t merely a performance; it was a blues-infused improvisation that transcended the ordinary. This soul-stirring solo, delivered with a profound sense of peace and musical innovation, marked the culmination of Woodstock. Jimi Hendrix’s guitar strings echoed a message of harmony, leaving an indelible imprint on the historic festival and the hearts of those who witnessed this sonic masterpiece.

9. “Foxy Lady” (Miami Pop Festival, 1968)

At the Miami Pop Festival in 1968, Jimi Hendrix elevated “Foxy Lady” to new heights, and leave us with the song’s best version. With experimental feedback and distortion, this rendition captured the essence of Jimi Hendrix’s unique style, making it an iconic showcase of his prowess and leaving an everlasting impact on the fortunate 25,000 attendees. Best moment of the Festival.

8. “Red House” (San Diego Sports Arena, 1969)

In the vibrant setting of the San Diego Sports Arena in 1969, Jimi Hendrix delivered the definitive live version of “Red House.” This blues masterpiece, woven with soulful bends and a stunning guitar solo, showcased Jimi Hendrix’s ability to seamlessly fuse traditional blues with his innovative style. The performance, later featured in the deluxe box set “The Jimi Hendrix Experience,” solidified Jimi Hendrix’s place as a master of blues.

7. “Star Spangled Banner” (Woodstock, 1969)

Jimi Hendrix’s rendition of “The Star-Spangled Banner” at Woodstock in 1969 was more than a musical performance; it was a deeply evocative interpretation charged with the political and social currents of the time. This iconic solo, part of Jimi Hendrix’s broader engagement with the anthem, embodied dualities—both a faithful rendition and a countercultural statement. It stands as a snapshot of the nation’s consciousness during a tumultuous era, the Vietnam War and Civil Rights symbolizing hope and protest through Jimi Hendrix’s guitar sounds. One of the most significant moments in 20th-century musical culture!

6. “Hey Baby (New Rising Sun)” (Rainbow Bridge, 1971)

In the exploration of musical influences, “Hey Baby (New Rising Sun)” from the Rainbow Bridge rendition showcases Jimi Hendrix’s profound journey into fusion. This particular performance, marked by a slower tempo and melodic layers, highlights Jimi Hendrix’s dedication to developing his sound. The live version, chosen for the posthumous Rainbow Bridge album, not only demonstrates Jmi Hendrix’s ongoing musical evolution but also serves as a testament to his innovative guitar techniques, adding depth to the narrative of his artistic exploration.

5. “Little Wing” (Royal Albert Hall, 1969)

The performance of “Little Wing” at the Royal Albert Hall on February 24, 1969, holds a special place in the hearts of Jimi Hendrix aficionados, often cited as “the holy grail” of his lost live shows. This second appearance, following an earlier concert on February 18, was nothing short of stellar, outshining his previous renditions. Fans and critics alike hail this as the best live version of “Little Wing,” where Hendrix’s genius was on full display,

4. “Hear My Train A Comin’” (Berkeley Community Theatre, 1970)

During the 1970 Cry of Love tour, the Berkeley Community Theatre witnessed Jimi Hendrix elevating “Hear My Train A Comin’” into an electrifying experience. Hendrix’s rendition that night was a raw and impassioned journey through the blues, showcasing his incomparable improvisational talent. He played with a fervor that went beyond mere technical skill, infusing every note with a profound sense of the blues’ spirit.

3. “Voodoo Child (Slight Return)” (Electric Ladyland, 1968)

The final track of Jimi Hendrix’s “Electric Ladyland”, “Voodoo Child (Slight Return),” stands as a monumental piece, embodying the full circle of the band’s creative evolution. Learned impromptu in the studio, Mitchell and Redding, alongside Jimi Hendrix, crafted a piece that was both an act and art of spontaneity. The solo in this track, potent and commanding, is not just a showcase of Hendrix’s virtuosity but a spectacle of his musical force.

2. “Machine Gun” (Fillmore East, 1970)

The rendition of “Machine Gun” performed by Jimi Hendrix with the Band of Gypsys at the Fillmore East is a towering example of his musicianship and his commentary on the Vietnam War. This particular performance, extending over twelve minutes, showcases Hendrix’s use of his guitar to convey the visceral experiences of warfare. His improvisational prowess is complemented by the emotive interplay with bandmates Billy Cox and Buddy Miles, creating a live version that is not only a protest but an evocative narrative of the sounds and sorrows of conflict.

1. “All Along The Watchtower” (Electric Ladyland, 1968)

Jimi Hendrix’s cover of Bob Dylan’s “All Along The Watchtower” stands as a pinnacle of his work, and probably the greatest cover song ever! ERnriched by Dave Mason’s 12-string play, the track was laboriously crafted, taking 27 takes and the innovative use of a cigarette lighter for slide guitar parts. Amidst recording challenges, including an impromptu visit from a Rolling Stone Brian Jones, it’s the succession of guitar interludes that truly elevate the piece. Each interlude escalates in urgency, with the final solo reaching a tremolo-picked climax that captures the song’s dramatic theme.

 

See below an excerpt from “Auld Lang Syne,” played live at the Fillmore East concerts.
PS: Please, release the footage of this historic concert!!
YouTube player

 

Is just a guy who got tired of bothering his friends talking about music, and decided to create a blog to write about what he loves the most.
0 0 votes
Article Rating
Subscribe
Notify of
guest
0 Comments
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments