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Jimi Hendrix Encyclopedia

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Events

January 01st, 1970

Ungano’s
New York, N.Y.

Joined by Elvin Bishop, Buddy Miles and others, Hendrix took part in a jam session at Ungano’s nightclub (210 West 70th Street, New York City). Sacha Reins, a writer for French entertainment magazine Best (Issue 39) who just happened to be in the club during the event, later wrote about the evening. “It is beginning to get quite late, and I tell myself that I have to go. I look to the door and get a big shock. Jimi is there with a black guitar in his hand. Buddy Miles follows him. He shakes the hand of the boss, and I hear him asking if he doesn’t mind them playing a bit. The three telephone booths near the entrance are immediately occupied. We all want to tell a friend that nice things are about to happen. Less than an hour later the club is full. Jimi is onstage and Buddy is looking for a drum stool big enough to support his enormous weight.

“A very young guitar player who has been playing for half an hour wants to leave. He doesn’t want to play anymore. Jimi stops him and asks him if they can play together. They try out a rather quick number and Jimi intentionally stays in the background. He waits until the young guitarist regains his confidence. Then he takes his turn. He plays short phrases with long silence intermissions during which one only hears the strong and regular pulsations of Buddy Miles. The silences become shorter and shorter. The phrases are less and less chopped up; they become enchained, stupefying. Jimi had found his groove and under his fingers the strings tell us strange stories that we don’t fully comprehend.”

Live

January 01st, 1970

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.”

Live

January 01st, 1970

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.'"

Stories

January 28th, 1970

Madison Square Garden, N.Y.

As spirited as the Fillmore concerts may have been, the resurrection of the Jimi Hendrix Experience became the immediate priority of Jimi’s management. This became increasingly so in the aftermath of a failed January 28, 1970 Band Of Gypsys gig at Madison Square Garden. The Winter Carnival For Peace was an event organized by promoter Sid Bernstein. The concert was a nonprofit benefit to raise money for the Moratorium Fund, an antiwar effort. Joining Hendrix and the Band Of Gypsys on the bill were such diverse acts as the Rascals, Harry Belefonte, and the cast of Hair.

Jimi’s performance began shortly after 3 a.m. He lurched miserably through two songs “Who Knows” and “Earth Blues” before he sat down on the stage and refused to continue. Buddy Miles tried to mollify the confused audience, pleading for their patience but Hendrix refused to continue. Miles petitioned the crowd to allow Hendrix time to regroup but Jimi unplugged his guitar and disappeared backstage.

The group’s aborted performance left a bitter taste for Hendrix, Cox, and Miles and the three parted company immediately afterwards. Jimi described the scene a few days after concert to Rolling Stone’s John Burks. “It’s like the end of the beginning or something,” explained Hendrix. “I figure that Madison Square Garden is like the end of a big long fairy tale. Which is great. I think it’s like the best ending I could possibly have come up with. The Band Of Gypsys were out of sight as far as I’m concerned. It was just…going through head changes is what it was. I couldn’t really tell. I was very tired. You know, sometimes there’s a lot of things that add up in your head about this or that and they might hit you at a very peculiar time, which happened to be at a peace rally. Here I’d been fighting the biggest war I ever fought. In my life. Inside, you know? And like that wasn’t the place to do it.”

Events

January 28th, 1970

Billed as the "Winter Festival For Peace," Peter Yarrow (Peter, Paul & Mary) and Sid Bernstein, event producers, announced that their services would be donated and that all proceeds of the event will go to the Vietnam Moratorium effort. The five-hour festival slated from 8 p.m. to 1 a.m. will feature Harry Belafonte; Blood, Sweat & Tears; Dave Brubeck; Richie Havens; Mother Earth; Peter, Paul & Mary; The Rascals; The Cast of Hair; Judy Collins, and Jimi Hendrix & his Band Of Gypsys.

Suffering from exhaustion and the effects of a drink laced with an unknown substance taken before the show, Hendrix failed to execute his musical plans this evening. Having completed just two songs, "Who Knows" and "Earth Blues" the only thing Hendrix could do at that point was drop his guitar and sit down on the stage, meanwhile Miles and Cox continue to roll through the back beats. As Alfred Aronowitz later recalled in his New York Post column, "The crowd has already gotten twice its money's worth when Jimi Hendrix stopped playing in the middle of his second number, said 'That's what happens when Earth ***** with Space, never forget that, that's what happens.'" ... "Jimi got up, put his guitar down and walked offstage."

"When he came off stage," explained Alan Douglas "he actually fell off the apron. At first I thought he was hurt, but he wasn't. I then ran backstage to the dressing room to see if in fact he was okay. There he was sitting playing the guitar and smiling. I don't know what went through his mind when he was on stage, but the first thing I noticed, it looked like he was having a big rhythm problem. I think he just got fed up."

Backstage, Jimi meets Johnny Winter. In recounting the meeting Winter explains, "I saw Jimi backstage at the Madison Square Garden concert, the one where he just couldn't play. When I saw him, it have me chills. It was the most horrible thing I'd ever seen. He came in with this entourage of people, and it was like he was already dead. He just walked in - and even though Jimi and I weren't the greatest of friends, we always talked, always - and he came in with his head down, sat on the couch alone, and put his head in his hands. He didn't say a word to anybody, and no one spoke to him. He didn't move until it was time for the show. He really wanted to do that gig, but he never should have. It wasn't that it was bad, but his whole thing was inspiration, and there wasn't any. It was just completely uninspired; finally, right in the middle of a song, he just took his guitar off, sat on the stage - the band was still playing - and told the audience, "I'm sorry, we just can't get it together." One of his people said he was sick, and lead him off stage. He was just so unhappy that there was no way that he could play the show. It didn't have anything to do with the group - he had already died!"