Remembering Jimi Hendrix’s final performance, just days before his death
We are dipping into the Far Out Magazine vault to revisit one of the final moments of fiery passion and unstoppable performance from one of music’s greatest performers—the inimitable, Jimi Hendrix.
On September 6th 1970, Jim Hendrix made his way to the stage with his band The Experience for the final time. Just a few days later, one of the leading lights of the counter-culture movement, an icon of music and a bastion of free-thinking and creative spirit, Jimi Hendrix, would die in his sleep following a barbituates overdose. The world would be sent into mourning.
Rather than focus on the sad loss of Hendrix’s talent or paying extra attention to the potential impact he could have continued to have on the world, instead, we’re revisiting the final performance Jimi Hendrix ever gave as an artist. The singer and guitarist took to the stage at the Love and Peace Festival in Fernham, Germany on this date in 1970 for his last encore.
Inspired by the success of the Isle of Wight festival in England—though we’d argue ‘success’ is a relative term here—the organisers of the Love and Peace Festival picked out the island of Fernham in German as the location for their new and free-spirited festival. With the festival looking to welcome 300,000 visitors, the dwindling ticket sales soon dampened their hopes of a Woodstock-type event on Europe’s mainland.
With rumours of ticket sales plummeting, the word soon spread to the artists involved and quickly enough bands began to pull out fo the event. Folkie Joan Baez and John Kayall, both dropped out once they hear of the woeful crowds. But Jimi Hendrix remained determined to put on a show for all those who did pick up a ticket for the event. While much of that determination may have been spurred on by the fact he had already been paid a handsome sum of money upfront, the fact remains that the guitarist, buoyed by his Isle of Wight exploits, was keen to show off his new and evolving sound.
Hendrix had become known as the greatest guitarist in the world in his short time on the scene. Arriving in London in the mid-sixties he quickly turned the music world upside down with his game-changing style. He left established musicians like his friend Eric Clapton in the dust as he went and yet somehow still managed to gather them up as fans too.
It wasn’t just on stage that Hendrix shone, however. The guitarist was often seen as the poster child for the new counter-culture movement that was popping up across the western world. Hendrix’s songs had made him a pop star but his free-thinking and unbridled warmth and acceptance for those around him made him an icon. It was this positivity and determination that had endeared him to the hearts and minds of a seemingly lost generation.
The clip below is lacking in audio quality but is dripping in iconography and, perhaps most poignantly, in the sadness of what could have been. Hendrix and The Experience are like a well-oiled machine. The group were flying high having asserted themselves as headlining acts wherever they went. They were beginning to evolve their sound.
The prospect of what Hendrix might have created should he had lived on is almost too tantalising to think of. The artist had continually evolved throughout his short career and with a new decade on the horizon, one assumes he would have again moved with the times. But this question will remain unanswered as just a few days later Jimi Hendrix would die in his sleep.
Though the sadness remains we must take solace in the music and the influence he had during his lifetime. For now, take a listen below to Jimi Hendrix’s final performance as part of The Experience.
However, it must be said, Hendrix’s final moments on stage came just two days before his death on September 18, 1970, when Eric Burdon welcomed Jimi Hendrix as a guest performer during a show in London. 10 days after his final performance as a solo artist, Hendrix jammed on ‘Tobacco Road.’
Burdon recalled: “Hendrix made his entrance during the second set. There was a crack in the air. I introduced Jimi to the audience… the typical London jazz crowd tried to show indifference as he took the stage, but a ripple of applause greeted the greatest guitar player in the world.” Sadly, no audio of the event has surfaced thus far.
Jimi Hendrix, September 6th, 1970 Set List :
‘Killing Floor’ ‘Spanish Castle Magic’ ‘All Along the Watchtower’ ‘Hey Joe’ ‘Hey Baby (New Rising Sun)’ ‘Message to Love’ ‘Foxy Lady’ ‘Red House’ ‘Ezy Ryder’ ‘Freedom’ ‘Room Full of Mirrors’ ‘Purple Haze’ ‘Voodoo Child (Slight Return)’