Jimi Hendrix Encyclopedia
Popular TagsFillmore East interview Melody Maker Izabella Band of Gypsys Hear My Train A Comin’ Voices Of East Harlem Bob Dawbarn contract Gerry Stickells Bill Graham
December 04th, 1969
On this day, Hendrix signed a contract for $12,500 to perform at the Fillmore East in New York. Most importantly, the Fillmore East would serve as the venue for the recording of a live album by the guitarist. In recent weeks, Hendrix had determined that the most expedient way to resolve his obligation to Capitol Records per the 1968 PPX legal settlement would be to deliver a live album to the label. “The Fillmore gigs were put together very last minute,” recalls Hendrix road manager Gerry Stickells. “The Fillmore East and West were trend spots and Bill Graham was the trend guy. It would be like a major act doing a live album in a club now, compared to a stadium. “
December 11th, 1969
Bob Dawbarn of Melody Maker interviewed Jimi by telephone for the December 20th edition of the famed British music weekly. In the interview Hendrix alluded to the reformation of the original Experience band. “I’ve been thinking about that for a long time. All I’m waiting for is for Noel and Mitch to make up their minds and we can get everything fixed. I saw Noel at the Fillmore and I think everything is working out fine with him. Now I am looking forward to seeing Mitch. He has been over there in England getting himself together.”
Jimi also provided Dawbarn with some insights about the new music that he had been developing. “I’ve been writing a whole lot of things,” Jimi replied. In fact, we’ve got enough material now for another two LPs. We are trying to decide what to release and at what time. We’ve started recording and you should be receiving a single around the end of January. The title? It should be either ‘Trying To Be A Man [sic]’ or ‘Room Full Of Mirrors.’”
December 31st, 1969
Fillmore East, New York
Prior to their two concerts later that evening, Hendrix and his Band Of Gypsys held an afternoon sound check and rehearsal at the Fillmore East. Later that evening, before a sold out crowd of 2,639, Hendrix rang in the New Year and new decade with two unforgettable performances.
The evening’s festivities opened with a spirited set by the Voices Of East Harlem, an enthusiastic young gospel ensemble. With the anticipation of the sold out Fillmore audience heightened to fever pitch, Hendrix led his trio through a scintillating, seventy-five minute opening performance. None of the eleven songs presented had yet to grace an Experience album. In the place of signature songs like “Purple Haze” and “All Along The Watchtower” were confident renditions of “Izabella” and “Hear My Train A Comin’”.
At midnight, Kip Cohen, the venue’s master of ceremonies, rang in the new year and decade buffeted by Guy Lombardo’s “Auld Lang Syne”. Never one to be upstaged, Jimi and company greeted the joyous house with their own inspired reading of the holiday staple. For Amalie Rothschild, the Fillmore East’s house photographer, the experience was an unforgettable one. “Then there was the countdown at midnight. It was the countdown that was a real scream. We’re talking about the end of the Sixties. December 31, 1969 turning into January 1, 1970--.A new decade. This was significant. After all, we were living through it and we knew that the Sixties were the Sixties. We had this big countdown on the [Joshua White] light show screen with this big clock 10, 9, 8, 7, 6…and everybody is yelling together. Then the light show screen pulls up and everybody is on stage--all the crew and the musicians. Hendrix, who is now on stage, launches into this amazing rendition of ‘Auld Lang Syne’ and I filmed it [excerpts of Rothschild’s color film footage can be seen in the VHS/DVD Band Of Gypsys]. This was history in the making. You could not miss this. His performance was just so inspired. It was just terrific and I can’t find the words to describe it.”
The recordings which make up both Band Of Gypsys and its two disc sequel Live At The Fillmore East certainly bear out Rothschild’s remembrances. Jimi’s celebrated work with the Band Of Gypsys stands among his most impressive and lasting achievements.
After the show, Ian Dove of Record Mirror interviewed Jimi Hendrix for the January 10, 1970 edition of the British paper. Later that night, Hendrix retreated to The Café Caliph (previously known as The Café Au Go Go) in Greenwich Village where he joined The James Cotton Blues Band on stage for a jam.