We are digging into the Far Out vault to bring you a meeting of two of our favourite artists—though it’s not one we’re sure they would have been able to remember. Jimi Hendrix and Jim Morrison are two names permanently etched into the history books, the enigmatic guitarist and the beguiling frontman made a point to carve out their own paths while they were alive and were widely adored for it. They were, for all intents and purposes, the leaders of the counterculture movement.
Even after their untimely demise, the iconography of these two legends only grows stronger with each passing year. Many people may have fantasised about the pair jointing forces at one time to provide the counterculture revolution with a partnership everybody could believe in, and perhaps a record or two to boot. The old adage goes that you should never meet your heroes but, perhaps, judging by the clip below, your heroes should never meet.
Jimi Hendrix was the wild poster child for swinging London during the mid-to-late sixties. The guitarist quickly carved himself a chunk of the rock and roll revolution that was swelling around the city and made it his own. The artist was a key figure in transcending genre and adolescent tribes to become an icon of the psychedelic movement. Likewise, Jim Morrison in Los Angeles was cultivating his own disciples as he floated from venue to venue handing out poetry off stage and shaking his hips on stage. The duo matched each other on many different occasions.
One imagines that the two of them together would pose a force too great for any censor or police force to properly hold down. But, unfortunately, the reality is that when these two giants did finally cross musical paths at Manhattan’s Scene Club in 1968, the results were less than inspiring. That’s right, we’re taking a look back at what has sometimes been known as ‘The Night of The Kings’.
As with any legendary rock tale, this one is relatively dependant on which account you want to believe. Some people place Johnny Winter also in the room alongside Hendrix and Morrison, some put Morrisson as principally playing the harmonica in the recording while others just say he jumped on the mic for just a few notorious moments. Whoever you believe, the fact remains that the two icons shared a stage for a lucky few audience members.
Hendrix was known for jumping up on stage and wailing on his guitar at any given moment. When he arrived in London in 1966 that’s exactly how he claimed instant notoriety, blowing away Eric Clapton in the process. So to have Jimi shredding up on stage as a jamming session wasn’t unheard of—but the chance to see Jim Morrison join him was one that people clearly felt too important to miss out on. Including Morrison himself.
As the story goes, Morrison invited himself on stage to start singing, or more accurately, bellowing an impossibly drunken string of words that sound like the inner-workings of your neighbourhood tramp on a particularly bad trip. As well as a string of swear words, Morrison also seems to yelp and belch all the while Hendrix continues to lay down his spiralling licks, seemingly undisturbed by the new guest.
Hendrix was in his element, not only was he up on stage but he was at the club where, according to biographer Tony Brown, Jimi felt most comfortable, “Jimi was a frequent visitor here. He loved the atmosphere and also loved to jam and as he always had a tape machine on hand, that night was captured forever.” And before Morrison makes his way to the mic what we hear is part of the fiery intensity that made Hendrix a worldwide star.
His guitar work is sensational while his powerful creativity takes the jams into new weird and wonderful directions with every new note—it a startling reflection of Hendrix in his prime. Not the same can be said for Morrison except the painful realisation that while Jimi was at his peak while under the influence, Jim was far from The Lizard King after a few jars. It’s a painful listen if you’re a Morrison fan not because he sounds bad but because his drinking would eventually lead to his untimely death.
Despite the somewhat conspicuous floundering of Morrison the recording is still incredibly interesting to listen back to. It not only provides an accurate reflection of the two giant figures of music but also a vivid picture of the creativity that filled the streets during those tumultuous times.
So, sit back and listen to a piece of history as Jimi Hendrix and Jim Morrison share the same drunken stage back in 1968.