The late Jimi Hendrix is the definition of both an enigma and a true pioneer. The moment the guitarist had burst onto the scene, the world had witnessed nothing like him before. Hendrix’s reputation was born out of the utter destruction that he would create on stage, a skill which blew audiences away night after night and led to him becoming the biggest rockstar on the planet.
Hendrix only arrived in London to kickstart his solo career in 1966 and immediately won over Eric Clapton in the most visceral of style, a meeting of minds which began during his very first appearance in the English capital. Having been brought over to the centre of the swinging sixties by his manager and The Animals bassist Chas Chandler, word soon spread around Britain about his unrelenting talent.
By 1969, Hendrix was the biggest star on both sides of the Atlantic when he got the call to headline the inaugural Woodstock and receive the highest-paid sum in the history of music for his acclaimed appearance which, in hindsight, was worth every penny of the organiser’s money.
Just a month before that iconic set, Hendrix appeared on The Dick Cavett Show to unveil a little more behind the mask of one of the most symbolic artists of all time. Cavett wanted to understand the thinking behind why he would want to cause such destruction whilst on stage.
Hendrix’s response came from the heart when he explained: “When you bring your girlfriend there and watch us play and so forth, you can get it out of your system then by watching us do it and making it into theatrics. So when you get home with your family or your girlfriend, you have all this tension out of the way, it’s a good release I guess.”
Cavett then moves on to the topic of the meaning behind the music in a societal sense, a question which evokes a poignant answer from the guitarist: “It’s got a more spiritual soul than anything now, pretty soon I believe they are going have to rely on music to get peace of mind or satisfaction or direction actually, more so than politics because politics is really an ego scene.”
He then continued: “It’s the art of words, which means nothing so, therefore, you need to rely on a more earthier substance like music or the arts, theatre, acting, painting or whatever.”
Hendrix’s words on the importance of music are still so important today over 50 years in when it feels like the world of politics is as shady as it ever has been but music is still there to pick up the pieces just like it was when he made the admission all those years ago.