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Fillmore East, New York Two Shows Dawn had arisen over Manhattan by the time the group finally left the venue in the early morning hours of January 1. Incredibly, they returned later on this evening to perform two additional concerts. With the hoopla of the New Year’s Eve festivities behind him, Hendrix centered his attention on realizing a live album from the remaining two performances. Desperate to absolve himself of the bitter legalities, which had hounded him since his return to the United States in June 1967, Hendrix rallied and gave two of the finest performances of his storied career. As the Fillmore audience roared with approval, the Band Of Gypsys left the stage confident that they had validated Jimi’s new music before his loyal followers. “We felt the concerts went well,” remembers Billy Cox. “We felt good doing them and Jimi did all of his powerful techniques he could think of. Then one show he just stayed there and got into it so heavy it was incredible. There were people in the audience with their mouths open.” “His playing is so loud, so fluid and so rife with electronic distortions that it resembles that of no other currently popular performer,” reported Mike Jahn for The New York Times (January 2, 1970). Lead guitarist Jimi Hendrix was once again joined on stage by bassist, Billy Cox and drummer, Buddy Miles for their new collaboration of roaming and experimental sounds. Secure in his standing, Hendrix was comfortable with the Fillmore crowd. During the fourth and final Fillmore concert, the guitarist made light of the group’s limited repertoire immediately prior to the start of “Voodoo Child (Slight Return)”. On another occasion earlier that evening, he even offered his congratulations to the victorious USC Trojans, winners of the Rose Bowl that afternoon. “Jimi enjoyed doing those shows,” explains Billy Cox. “He was enjoying himself because he had complete freedom and freedom is a joyous thing when you’ve got it. We didn’t have any worries about what we could or couldn’t do. These were our first shows. We were pretty rebellious at that age. I guess that’s why we played the music so loud. He didn’t have any restrictions and that is a lot of freedom. You can hear that on every song we played. After the shows were finished, Jimi was quite relieved. He had fulfilled his obligation and was getting this whole [situation] off his back.”
Having just successfully completed two sold out performances at the Fillmore East, the previous night, the Band of Gypsys New Year’s Day performances were solidifying them as one of the most recognizable sounds in modern music. Just as with the two shows the preceding night Wally Heider and Eddie Kramer also recorded this performance. The results of which have been released as Band Of Gypsys (Experience Hendrix/Capitol Records, 93446-2) and Hendrix: Live At The Fillmore East (Experience Hendrix/MCA, MCAD2-1111931).
As the Band Of Gypsys hit the stage the crowd explodes into applause as the three neighborly musicians break into a barrage of musical attacks, bouncing melodic beats of musical affection off each other. The mesmerizing opening statements of the newly formed Band of Gypsys implanted a new brand of funky rock-inspired blues in the audience’s head.
“His playing is so loud, so fluid and so rife with electronic distortions that it resembles that of no other currently popular performer,” reported Mike Jahn for The New York Times (January 2, 1970). Lead guitarist Jimi Hendrix was once again joined on stage by bassist, Billy Cox and drummer, Buddy Miles for their new collaboration of roaming and experimental sounds.
The Band Of Gypsys first set featured performances of “Who Knows,” “Machine Gun,” “Changes,” “Power Of Soul,” “Stepping Stone,” “Foxey Lady,” “Stop,” “Hear My Train A Comin’,” “Earth Blues,” and “Burning Desire.”
As Rolling Stones’ Loraine Alterman reported, “at the first show on New Year’s Day, the audience really let loose with cheers only on the old “Foxey Lady.” In all fairness, however, his second show reportedly went over much better especially when he and Miles sand a pleas for unity about how we’ve all got to live together, a song did together in a jam at the Newport ’69 festival in Los Angeles.
“In the end, though, Hendrix is a musician, not a contortionist or juggler. If the fans can forget the visual show and if Hendrix can come up with a new approach to material for a Band Of Gypsys, he’ll remain a heavy on the scene.”
After a brief intermission the Band Of Gypsys returned for a second set highlighted with “Stone Free,” “Little Drummer Boy,” “Power Of Soul,” “Changes,” “Message To Love,” “Earth Blues,” “Machine Gun,” “Voodoo Child (Slight Return),” “We Gotta Live Together,” “Wild Thing,” “Hey Joe,” and “Purple Haze.”
Alfred Aronowitz of The New York Post interviews Hendrix for a piece in the January 2, 1970 edition. Inside Aronowitz explains Hendrix’s musical change saying, “Jimi had chosen the New Year, and as he put it, the new decade to unveil his new trio… What’s the reason for the change? ‘Earth, man, earth,’ Jimi said. With his old group, The Jimi Hendrix Experience, the music has been too far out in space. ‘Now I want to bring it down to earth,’ Jimi said. ‘I want to get back to the blues, because that’s what I am.’ The new group has a new repertoire, but during his first set last night, Jimi was still waving his freak flag.
“There had been plans for Jimi to go back on tour with The Experience accompanied once again by Mitch Mitchell on drums and Noel Redding on bass, but after the show Jimi had changed his mind. ‘With Mitch, maybe, but not with Noel, for sure.’ He said. ‘That’s another thing. This is more of a real thing. We’re trying to get it on its feet. We’re waiting for Stevie Winwood. If I can get ahold of him and he agrees to it, that’ll be another voice. We’ll have harmony for days.’ The name of Jimi’s new group, incidentally, is A Band Of Gypsys. ‘That’s what we are,’ said Buddy. ‘That’s what all musicians are, Gypsies.'”
1970 Alfred Aronowitz Band of Gypsys Changes Earth Blues eddie kramer Fillmore East hey joe jan January 1 Little Drummer Boy Live Machine Gun Message To Love new years day performance Power Of Soul Purple Haze Stone Free The New York Post Voodoo Child (Slight Return) Wally Heider We Gotta Live Together Wild Thing