Jimi Hendrix was never shy to hide his admiration for The Beatles and, back in 1967, the iconic guitarist took things to the next level.
The night was June 4, 1967, Hendrix was stepping out on stage for his headline show at the Saville Theatre in London and, knowing that both Paul McCartney and George Harrison were in the audience, Hendrix decided to open the show with his rendition of Sgt. Pepper‘s title song.
While opening your own show with a cover song was a ballsy move, it was the sheer fact that The Beatles had only released the song three days prior to that moment which caused the greatest shock. With the record being made available on the Thursday prior, Hendrix had learnt the song and performed it live at his headline show by the Sunday.
“Jimi was a sweetie, a very nice guy. I remember him opening at the Saville on a Sunday night, 4th June 1967,” McCartney once recalled. “Brian Epstein used to rent it when it was usually dark on the Sunday. Jimi opened, the curtains flew back and he came walking forward, playing ‘Sgt. Pepper’, and it had only been released on the Thursday so that was like the ultimate compliment.”
Macca added: “It’s still obviously a shining memory for me, because I admired him so much anyway, he was so accomplished. To think that that album had meant so much to him as to actually do it by the Sunday night, three days after the release. He must have been so into it, because normally it might take a day for rehearsal and then you might wonder whether you’d put it in, but he just opened with it.
“It’s a pretty major compliment in anyone’s book. I put that down as one of the great honours of my career. I mean, I’m sure he wouldn’t have thought of it as an honour, I’m sure he thought it was the other way round, but to me, that was like a great boost.”
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