Two of the 1960s ultimate icons crossed paths in 1969 at Madison Square Garden, a time when Jimi Hendrix joined The Rolling Stones backstage at one of their most famous shows. The Stones’ American Tour in 1969 would see the band confirm themselves as icons of the age and, to mark the occasion, they welcomed a host of stars at their shows.
But while Janis Joplin is also said to have attended a performance, below we’ve got the moment the late, great Jimi Hendrix sat down with Keith Richards and shared a joke or two then picked up a guitar and proved his talent.
There was no brighter star in the galaxy of musicians and creative artists that evolved from the 1960s than Jimi Hendrix. His game-changing style and free-form performances had made him the poster boy for the flower power generation. Arguably, a generation whom without The Rolling Stones would never have seen fruition.
The Rolling Stones arrived on American shores as part of the British Invasion alongside The Animals and The Beatles, but the group quickly diverted from the straight path to pop stardom toward something more dark and dangerous and they swept up a nation along the way.
By 1969, Hendrix was the new face of the rebellion but The Rolling Stones were still the bad-boy band they always were—It was only natural that they should cross paths once in a while. That said, for a long time, there existed no footage of the chance meetings and only whispers of the two icons colliding.
When The Rolling Stones, decided to record their new live album Get Yer Ya-Yas Out at Madison Square Garden, however, there was an opportune moment to set a stage big enough for such a meeting. The Maysles brothers knew it and they were ready and waiting with their video cameras to capture the moment.
The footage sees the world’s greatest guitarist enter the building amid a growing fuss and quickly link up with the band. Recorded on November 27th 1969, the footage is a peek behind the curtain of one of the most famous travelling circuses of all time—a Rolling Stones touring party.
One stunning moment in the clip is when Hendrix picks up a guitar and starts noodling away. It may seem like no big deal but Hendrix plays left-handed and re-strings his guitars accordingly. It means that picking up this instrument and playing it this way is essentially playing the instrument backwards. He does so with grace and effortless grace.
Many Hendrix fans will note that date as the great man’s 27th birthday. Clearly, Hendrix knew the only band in town to spend his birthday with was The Rolling Stones and perhaps, most notably, their guitarist Keith Richards.
Sadly, much of the footage below has been dubbed over with music but the brief snippet of the pair laughing with one another is enough to make you smile. Two geniuses of their craft, at different points in the spectrum, coming together amid the madness of a birthday backstage hang to connect and share some time with one another.
Keep your eyes peeled for some of the heroes of Rolling Stones folklore and watch Jimi Hendrix relax backstage with Keith Richards in this rare footage from 1969.