Oct 2 2015
Documentary About Historic July 4, 1970 Performance In Front Of His Largest Ever U.S. Audience Features Footage Not Included in Showtime Version
“The footage will take your breath away.. the definitive Hendrix cover of ‘Star-Spangled Banner.'” – Jeff Slate, Esquire
“. . . always fascinating.. you’ll be consistently entertained and often enthralled.” – Will Harris, AV Club
“In addition to showing the guitar god at the height of his power, ‘Electric Church’ also offers a fitting coda to Hendrix’s amazing yet all-too-brief career.” – Carlton Fletcher, Albany Herald
“Jimi Hendrix’s talk about using music as an agent to bond souls in peace and love has yet to become a worldwide reality. But when you hear Hendrix himself in this documentary . . . it’s hard not to wish and dream.” – David Hinckley, New York Daily News
Due to unforeseen manufacturing delays, JIMI HENDRIX: ELECTRIC CHURCH will be released on DVD and Blu-ray on Friday, November 6, 2015.
On November 6, Experience Hendrix L.L.C. and Legacy Recordings will release Jimi Hendrix: Electric Church on DVD and Blu-ray. The much-lauded documentary, an abridged version of which aired on Showtime, tells the story of the Jimi Hendrix Experience’s involvement as the headliner of the Second Atlanta International Pop Festival, then hailed as the “Southern Woodstock.” The audio soundtrack includes stereo and 5.1 surround sound mixes by Hendrix’s recording engineer Eddie Kramer, taken directly from the original master tapes. The DVD and Blu-ray versions include two songs not seen in the televised version: “Red House” and “Freedom,” and a special added bonus music video for “Room Full Of Mirrors” that combines the existing footage with never-before-seen photographs of the performance.
The film details the efforts by Atlanta promoter Alex Cooley to create the definitive music festival. Cooley secured such talent as Bob Seger, BB King and the Allman Brothers, but Hendrix was the critical component he needed to elevate the three day festival to a major cultural event. Electric Church features interviews with Hendrix’s Experience band mates Billy Cox and the late Mitch Mitchell as well as Paul McCartney, Steve Winwood, Rich Robinson, Kirk Hammett, Derek Trucks, Susan Tedeschi, festival organizer Alex Cooley and many others. The film contains breathtaking, color 16mm footage of Jimi Hendrix’s Independence Day appearance, a mere ten weeks before his untimely passing. Standout performances include such Hendrix classics as “Hey Joe,” “Voodoo Child (Slight Return),” “Purple Haze,” as well as confident, compelling versions of songs such as “Straight Ahead,” and the aforementioned “Freedom” and “Room Full Of Mirrors” that had not yet been issued by Jimi on an Experience album, but were intended to be part of the album he was working on that summer. “The Star Spangled Banner,” played against a backdrop of exploding fireworks, is another highlight, which Cooley recalls as having “knocked people’s socks off.”
By the beginning of the 1970s, Jimi Hendrix was unquestionably one of the most exciting rock musicians of his generation, having captivated the world with his highly stylized approach to blues guitar. In Electric Church, Paul McCartney freely admits to worshipping him, adding, “We all played guitar. We all knew a bit. But he seemed to know more than us.”
Jimi Hendrix put the rock festival concept on the map with his blistering performance at California’s Monterey Pop Festival in 1967, headlining 1968’s inaugural Miami Pop Festival, and providing the soundtrack for the counterculture with a dazzling set at Woodstock in 1969.
His performance at the Second Atlanta International Pop Festival was not only significant on a musical level, but also in terms of socio-political dynamics. The organizers were keen to push back against the cultural divide that was very much in evidence in the Deep South. It was assumed that rural audiences would not take kindly to “long-hair” bands, and that black and white artists could not comfortably exist on the same bill; Atlanta Pop set out to challenge those beliefs. Hendrix’s music and message of universal love made him the ideal artist to represent that pushback, and, appropriately, was the first act booked for the festival.
In the sweltering Georgia heat, amongst intimidating bikers who were hired as security, hundreds of thousands of mostly young music fans descended upon the festival grounds, eventually knocking over fences and leaving the organizers with no choice but to declare it a free event. Law enforcement, not equipped to handle such crowds, adopted a hands-off policy with regards to crowd control, drug use and nudity. Against incredible odds, the event proved to be largely peaceful. By the time the Jimi Hendrix Experience took the stage on the evening of July 4, the audience swelled to more than 300,000.
Massive, anarchic music fests in the U.S., unencumbered by high ticket prices and corporate sponsors were soon to be extinct, and the Atlanta Pop Festival was the last of this dying breed. Glenn Phillips (Hampton Grease Band) says, “This was, certainly in retrospect, sort of the end of an era, and a great end to an era. It was a powerful moment.”
The Atlanta festival footage in Electric Church was shot by Steve Rash, later known for directing such Hollywood films as The Buddy Holly Story and Can’t Buy Me Love. Rash intended for the footage he and his team were filming to be used for a documentary in the vein of Woodstock. When a deal couldn’t be secured, virtually all of the film lay undeveloped inside Rash’s barn for over three decades. The full-color film stock held up remarkably well, and makes for a transcendent viewing experience.
The DVD/Blu-ray release of Jimi Hendrix: Electric Church comes on the heels of Experience Hendrix L.L.C. and Legacy Recordings’ August release of the Jimi Hendrix Experience’s Freedom: Atlanta Pop Festival double CD and double LP, an audio companion to the documentary. It is Jimi Hendrix’s 46th entry onto the Billboard charts. In his Freedom: Atlanta Pop Festival liner notes, Bill Mankin, who worked on the construction and stage crews for the festival, describes Hendrix’s impact on the festival. He writes, “At the center of the vortex was the master magician on guitar: the personification of a life lived fully and wildly, with no boundaries, no limitations, and aiming for the stars at light speed.”
Jimi Hendrix: Electric Church DVD and Blu-ray contains the following Jimi Hendrix Experience performances from July 4, 1970:
2) Spanish Castle Magic
3) Red House*
4) Room Full Of Mirrors*
5) All Along the Watchtower
7) Foxey Lady
8) Purple Haze
9) Hey Joe
10) Voodoo Child (Slight Return)
11) Stone Free
12) Star Spangled Banner
13) Straight Ahead
*Not in televised version
About Experience Hendrix L.L.C.
Founded by James ‘Al’ Hendrix, Jimi’s father, in 1995, Experience Hendrix, has been managed since its inception by the family members handpicked by Al during his tenure as Chairman. It is the official family company charged with managing the music, name, image and likeness of Jimi Hendrix. As a part of their daily operations, Experience Hendrix and Authentic Hendrix oversee Jimi’s timeless legacy on a worldwide basis.
About Legacy Recordings
Legacy Recordings, the catalog division of Sony Music Entertainment, is home to the world’s foremost library of historically significant commercial recordings, a peerless collection of works by the most important musical artists of the 19th, 20th and 21st centuries. Across a variety of platforms, the label offers contemporary music fans access to thousands of meticulously restored and remastered archival titles representing virtually every musical genre including popular, rock, jazz, blues, R&B, folk, country, gospel, Broadway musicals, movie soundtracks, rap/hip-hop, world music, classical, comedy and more.