Jimi Hendrix’s performance at Woodstock created some of his greatest guitar performances. His set lasted nearly two hours – one of the longest performances of his career. It concluded with a long medley that included his cacophonic rendition of Star Spangled Banner, that would become emblematic not only of Woodstock, but of the 1960s themselves, then ripping through Purple Haze before launching into a beautiful guitar outro that contains some of my favorite live music by Hendrix: Woodstock Improvisation. Improvised, beautiful, thoughtful.
By 1969, Hendrix was a major rock star and was generally the headline act. Woodstock was no different. However you notice that the concert was filmed during the day? This was the only major performance that Hendrix gave in the morning. The now legendary technical issues and weather delays with rain caused the festival to stretch into Monday morning. The festival originally offered Hendrix the midnight spot on the Sunday evening, but he again preferred to be the closing act.
One benefit of the delayed performance: the morning light made for excellent filming conditions, which may be part of the reason this particular Hendrix performance is so well known.
But by Monday morning, the crowd was no longer a half a million people. In fact, by the time he took to the stage at 9am, the crowd has dwindled to fewer than 200,000 or even less. With the end of the weekend, many spectators had to return to school or work, and many of those fans waited just long enough to see Hendrix begin his set, and then left.
Hendrix performed an encore, a rarity. He almost never performed encores, but at Woodstock, despite the vanishing crowd, he did. On recordings, he can be heard considering Valleys of Neptune, which he never performed publicly, before or after Woodstock. He opted, instead, for Hey Joe, his first hit song.
What are your favorite Hendrix moments? Please share in the comments section below!