Revisit the earliest known footage of the Jimi Hendrix Experience, 1967
Upon arriving in London to kickstart his music career, Jimi Hendrix rounded up a band which consisted of drummer Mitch Mitchell and bassist Noel Redding, they were known as The Jimim Hendrix Experience and one way or another they changed the face of music forever.
Hendrix, whose famed guitar skill and style combined with his undeniable charisma as a frontman, had taken his band on a select few shows around London, but the guitarist’s fame had begun in 1966 with one of the most memorable performances of all time.
After arriving in England on September 24, 1966, and under the stewardship of his new manager and former Animals bassist, Chas Chandler, Hendrix was quickly invited to meet the shining glitterati of swinging London. He and Chandler headed to Regent Street Polytechnic where current Kings of the underground, Cream, were conducting one of their legendary improvised jams.
Clapton had heard of Hendrix sometime before his arrival via Chandler and was keen to see what he could do. He invited the guitarist on stage and what happened next would live on in history. Jimi, buoyed by the invitation, took to the stage and grabbed a guitar to cover Howlin’ Wolf’s ‘Killing Floor’, Eric Clapton told Planet Rock: “We got up on stage and Chas Chandler says ‘I’ve got this friend who would love to jam with you.’”
“It was funny, in those days anybody could get up with anybody if you were convincing enough that you could play. He got up and blew everyone’s mind. I just thought ‘ahh, someone that plays the stuff I love in the flesh, on stage with me.’ I was actually privileged to be (on stage with him)… it’s something that no one is ever going to beat; that incident, that night, it’s historic in my mind but only a few people are alive that would remember it.” It was enough to make Hendrix and his band one of the hottest properties sin the cpaital.
Soon enough, The Jimi Hendrix Experience were booked to play a host of gigs in and around the capital. One particular show at the Chelmsford Corn Exchange, in the City of Chelmsford, just outside London, would go down as the first time Hendrix and his band were ever caught on film.
beginning as Hendrix often liked to, with a cover, they rolled straight into their version of Bob Dylan’s ‘Like a Rolling Stone’ before playing ‘Stone Free’, the eventual B-side to iconic track ‘Hey Joe’. The footage from this show, thought to be the earliest known recording of Hendrix and his band, was shot for Telixer: A Thing of Beat Is a Joy Forever, a documentary on British music made predominantly for Dutch company KRO.
Shaun Everett, a mod who was in the crowd that night alongside the likes of Pete Townshend and John Entwistle, wrote about the evening for the official website of Chelmsford Rocks, he said: “Hendrix gave two sets. That was the normal arrangement for the Corn’ole. Both sets usually 45 minutes to one hour each and there was absolutely no music to be had after 11.30pm.”
Everett added: “I have spent a long time looking for myself on that film clip but to no avail. I was probably still at the rear of the venue or even more likely in the local pub for the break! Hendrix, at the end of the performance, walked straight up to a few of us standing just there and one of my mates lit his joint for him. They were so knocked out by that I recall.
“My recollection was more nasal. Rock musicians have this uncanny ability to harbour their own post-set aromas about themselves: in this case that unmistakable aroma of cannabis…I will always remember that part even if my music recollections are a bit sparse. I have also ‘dined out’ on that anecdote for many years since. I had passed close by the ‘God’.”
We can’t blame Everett, to have seen Hendrix not only in his prime but at the very beginning of his journey, as he began to climb the ladder from session band guitarist to a straight up rock and roll deity. With the clip below you can not only see what Hendrix had in his power but also the potential he still hid under wraps.
This is a piece of footage that confirms Hendrix was destined to be a legend form the very beginning.