Jimi Hendrix Copenhagen, May 1967 portrait
(Credit: Bent Rej)

Remembering Jimi Hendrix’s final interview just a week before his death

Jimi Hendrix remains one of the most prominent members of the pantheon of rock and roll. His lasting contribution to rock with the guitar is, to this day, some of the most innovative and immeasurably influential work ever created. It’s a contribution punctuated with Hendrix’s untimely death. Here, we look back at the last interview he ever conducted.

Hendrix sadly passed away on September 18th, 1970 following a barbiturate overdose and was therefore never afforded the chance to enact the new musical vision he sets out in this interview with NME’s Keith Allison just the week before.

Arriving in London in 1966, Jimi Hendrix soon became a wild whisper among the glitterati of the thriving sixties music scene. His innovative way of playing guitar had sent shivers down the spines of the current court of guitar heroes. Soon enough, Hendrix was the talk of the town.

Soon after, with the Jimi Hendrix Experience, the guitarist had taken his genius playing to the masses and become a global sensation, as he toured iconic festivals and laid waste to those who dare follow his dynamic sound.

“Take one and a half” begins the 30-minute clip, as Allison sits across from one of the most engaging artists of the swinging sixties. Hendrix had been turning audiences into quivering piles of goo with his guitar for four years but following a toned down performance at the Isle of Wight festival, everyone was interested in the “the new, subdued, mature Jimi Hendrix.”

It’s a moniker that the jovial Hendrix quickly laughs off. He does, however, offer up a change of direction for his music saying that he was keen to expand his sound for the now-iconic Isle of Wight set. The change of musical pace was certainly on Hendrix’s mind—he had even reached out to Paul McCartney to form a supergroup with Miles Davis in the months prior. Hendrix was, by all accounts, just getting started.

Allison asks if the removal of the wild hair and glittering stage adornments will detract people who fell in love with the “original” Hendrix. It’s something that Hendrix sees as necessary to his evolution as an artist. “It happens in stages,” he says confirming “I did that [removed the jewellery and hair] because I felt like I was being too loud. My nature just changes.” The guitarist then goes on to say how music should not be a strictly visual prospect and details his ethos for making music, in what runs on as an informative and insightful look into the mind of one of the greatest musicians of modern times.

As well as offering an insight into Hendrix’s vision for the future musically it is also a candid look at the man behind the myth. Throughout the interview Hendrix continues to laugh and joke, never taking himself or anything else too seriously.

Typified when Allison asks if he is financially comfortable enough to retire from performing professionally, Hendrix, laughing, replies: “Ah, I don’t think so, not the way I’d like to live, because like I want to get up in the morning and just roll over in my bed into an indoor swimming pool and then swim to the breakfast table, come up for air and get maybe a drink of orange juice or something like that. Then just flop over from the chair into the swimming pool, swim into the bathroom and go on and shave and whatever.”

“You don’t want to live just comfortably, you wanna live luxuriously?” says Allison following up. Hendrix again switches the playing field, “No! Is that luxurious? I was thinking about a tent, maybe, [laughs] overhanging … overhanging this … a mountain stream! [laughs].”

It’s a touching interview that allows us a glimpse into the Hendrix’s personality and the effervescent brain that created such wildly unimaginable music. It also, more tragically, shows us a flicker of the future that could have been, with the iconic guitarist trying to shape a new path for himself. It remains the last ever interview Jimi Hendrix would ever conduct and a reminder of his everlasting talent.

Listen below to Jimi Hendrix’s final interview just one week before his death:

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