Paul McCartney was at the epicentre of the London scene when Jimi Hendrix arrived and tore it in two. The axeman’s witchcraft immediately won him over, and there was one moment that The Beatles said was his “shining memory” of Hendrix.
Upon Hendrix’s arrival in London, whispers soon spread about his mystical abilities on the guitar, and The Beatles soon made it their mission to catch him live. It took them a while to finally see him in action, and it was an event that was more than worth the wait for McCartney. The evening created a memory that continues to live vividly in his mind.
Although Hendrix’s arrival on British shores occurred towards the back end of 1966, it wouldn’t be until the following June that McCartney would finally see for himself what all the fuss was about. He rose to the top of the ladder in the blink of an eye and also had a cunning trick up his sleeve, especially for Macca.
Just a week before the concert on June 4th, The Beatles had released Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band and Hendrix stunned McCartney by opening his set at the Savile Theatre with a cover of the album’s title track.
McCartney had attended the concert alongside his bandmate George Harrison, and he left the building with the knowledge Hendrix was the genuine article.
“Brian Epstein used to rent it when it was usually dark on the Sunday,” McCartney told Stephen Colbert about the concert. “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.”
He continued: “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.”
This isolated incident is a window into Hendrix’s supernatural talent and his daredevil-like ability to take risks that most wouldn’t even dare contemplate. Moreover, on a personal note for McCartney, it provided him with a priceless memory that becomes increasingly more jaw-dropping with every year that passes.