One week after the Kent State shootings the Kinneys are still seeing Evening News reports of protest. Mick excuses himself from the dinner table and yells, "I'll be ridin' around the block!" as he runs out the side door. He jumps on his banana-seat bike and steers the butterfly-handlebars down the street.
Turning his head towards the Mason's house he sees Jill standing with a hose, watering the
lawn in the front yard. He hadn't seen her since she left for college last fall and as he pedals
toward her he notices that she'd let her red hair grow to her shoulders and is wearing it parted down the middle.
"Hey Red Hed, where's your glasses?" he asks as he brakes alongside the wet grass.
"I wear contacts now."
She looks prettier without glasses he thinks. "When'd you get home?"
"I flew in this morning, my last exam was cancelled because of the strike.
When she turns off the hose Mick hears Kosmic Blues by Janis playing faintly inside
"Did they call out the guard-dogs at your school?" he asked.
"Hell no! We had Jimi on campus to drive out evil spirits."
"You saw Hendrix?!"
"He played OU last Friday, it was his first gig after Kent State on Monday and all week long the campus had demonstrations." Jill doesn't seem as reserved as she used to be. She
winds the green hose in loops around her elbow and tells Mick, "I took my recorder to the concert and
taped the heaviest music I've ever heard."
Mick jumps off his banana seat and pleads, "Can I hear it?"
"Sure, c'mon in." He follows her into the living room. The Mason's house is decorated
with lots of antique furniture and artwork. The paintings and sculptures always made Mick feel
as though he's walked into a museum. Jill switchs off the stereo and points to the coffee table.
"There's a picture of Jimi at OU in the paper." she says, then walks upstairs to retrieve her recorder and cassette. Mick leafs through The
Oklahoma Daily. On page 6 he sees the large photo of Jimi with a leopard skin guitar strap over his shoulder. Resembling a Cherokee warrior, the eyes beneath his headband looked as if tiny galaxies are swirling in their sockets. The review is headlined, "Hendrix Gives OU Rare Performance":
Jimi Hendrix and his Experience floated into Oklahoma last Friday for two concerts in
the OU field house. It was the first time they had come to Oklahoma and they quickly made their
presence known. Hendrix had reformed the Experience after his short stint with A Band Of Gypsys at
the end of last year. The only difference was that Jimi's close friend Billy Cox was on bass
instead of Noel Redding. Noel is resting himself in a home in England. Old Experience drummer
Mitch Mitchell was still back on the drums.
Jimi arrived in all his glory thirty minutes late for the first show. He dressed, tuned
and then walked on stage to be greeted by a crowd of around 3500. Being the first night of the tour [it was the 6th show], Jimi and the Experience was just a little
stiff. This is understandable but they handled the show very well. It was an enjoyable set with Jimi throwing in his best known numbers as Foxy Lady and
Purple Haze to please most of the audience. Jimi was very relaxed during this first show, not straining himself in any way but still giving the audience the seductive moves at which Jimi is the best.
Between shows Jimi and the Experience relaxed at a local apartment. He prepared himself
for his second appearance - a show which proved to be the best in this part of the country in many a month.
He arrived back at the field house to be greeted by a crowd of well over its 5500 capacity. He walked on stage with the air of a little boy ready to do something naughty - which he proceeded to do. Singing his first song Fire, which sparked the audience right off the bat. Jimi and the
Experience sounded much tighter than they had during the first show. What was impressive about the second show were their jams. Jimi and the Experience are
one of a very few groups that have mastered this art. It is really a joy to hear Jimi take a single note on his guitar and glide all around it and then move up to a different note and then relate the entire sound. With Mitch and Billy giving a solid foundation and occasionally taking a little initiative themselves the sound they lay down is one of the best in rock music. Jimi certainly deserves to be included in the triad of rock guitarists (Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck, and Jimi) who are considered to be the best in the business. But he has his own unique style that makes him stand out.
The show was highlighted by Jimi's rendition of The Star Spangled Banner which he does
in the Woodstock film. He claims his interpretation "shows where America is at today." The audience seemed to agree. In view of the recent trouble on campus I feel it is notable that there was not one disturbance of any kind during the two shows. It was completely policed by the student peace marshals and not one uniformed policeman was in sight.
Jimi's last song was supposed to have been Purple Haze, but to the surprise of his
manager he did an encore. According to his manager, Gerry Stickells, Jimi never does encores, so
this was a rare exception. Jimi gave everything he had to the audience and he seemed very glad to do it.
He left totally exhausted but pleased with the way the night had gone. One thing for
sure, OU got more than it bargained for Friday night.
* * * * * * * * * * * *
Just how much "more" he gave is revealed on the precious recording Jill carries downstairs from her room. "Which show did you tape?" asks Mick.
"The second one. I knew it was going to be supernatural because the university is built
on land that was once the Comanche Indian Nation. Jimi tuned into the Indian spirit world of
ancestral warriors who'd been massacred like the people at Kent State. He wore a black armband with the letter K in white."
Mick's eyes widen with anticipation as she places a tape labeled "Norman, OK - Friday,
May 8, 1970" into the player. He remembers that this was the Friday of the hard-hat attacks
in New York, while thousands of protesters were on their way to Saturday's March on Washington to protest Monday's massacre at Kent State.
The concert begins with Mitch churning away on drums. Jimi plays the first two chords of
Fire but then stops while Mitch goes on. A half minute later Billy and Jimi take it from the
top and music reverberates in the hall. Mick notices a bit of hall echo on the recording but the
sounds from the band are easily distinguishable. After his solo, Jimi abruptly stops playing
and allows Mitch to solo for two minutes. Suddenly the guitar returns and Fire burns to conclusion. The crowd cheers loud and Jimi tells them, "Yeah. OK then, thank you very much. We have this other thing that we'd like to do right now, called Spanish Castle Magic." His amps
blast Spanish Castle but when he reaches the solo he bends the low tones and lingers while making some
adjustments. Regaining momentum, Jimi presses the wah-wah pedal and sparks this show into high gear with
glistening wails. Mitch is heard from a distance like firecrackers in an avalanche, but Billy's
thump resounds like the Abominable Snowman pounding his chest.
"…the wind is just right…don't worry about the bad things, float yer li'l mind around…" - Spanish Castle Magic
Black Armband with "K" for Kent State
Jimi next gives a timely rap; "Yeah, right, ah, while we're goin' on, for instance, this will be the song of the war. Forget about yesterday or tomorrow, we're gonna get it right in a few seconds. But then again we must get rid of all the hogwash and the waste, and all the bullshit. Like for instance a song dedicated to the (OU students raise their fists), ah, yeah, one of them scenes, and, ah, also dedicated to all the soldiers fightin' in Chicago, Berkeley, ah, (pause) Kent State, all four of them, yeah. Dig! Yeah, right, completely, always, right on. But dig, if the saddles ain't off, check this out and get it out of the way, this thing called Machine Gun." What follows is extraordinary and historic music. First Hendrix orchestrates the delicately pensive line; improvised on the vibe of this time. Multiple melodic chains intertwine, they accumulate in warped patterns like overlapping fragments of a Cherokee death chant. Cadences are accented to sound like they've asked questions. Harmonies resolve as answers. This dialogue evolves to an intersecting synapse. A six-chord salute rings with finality before plummeting to the lowest note. Students applaud the Machine Gun theme, but tonight their cries mean so much more. They're all caught in the terrible anguish of this most violent week in the history of American campuses. They're with Jimi at his first concert
since the violence of four days past. The massacre is everyone's uppermost concern at this moment, as Jimi specifically addresses this issue. Crisis grips the nation while he soothes these Oklahoma students with an ode to Kent State.
Oklahoma - the word is Indian for "Red Man's Territory." This is where the U.S. government had confined the "Five Nations" of Indian tribes, including
the Cherokees, to reservations throughout the 1800s. This is where, when oil was discovered on the reservations in the 1920s, Oklahoma courts conspired to declare the Indians "mentally incompetent" in order to confiscate their oil-rich land. This is where white politicians and businessmen became overnight oil tycoons after they condemned the swindled Indians to rot in mental institutions. This is where Jimi is at, he can feel it. Cautiously, he ponders the heartbreak and wails forth a fountain of tears. The students are passionately cued to his every move. He mourns his verse as if it were created for this moment.
…machine gun, tearing my families apart… - Jimi
It's the eternal swirl of collapsing sorrow, the definitive dirge of utmost pathos. A current of history extracts Jimi's full
expressive power. It is May 8th, the 25th anniversary of "V-E Day" VE = Victory in Europe, May 8, 1945, the end of World War II for the Allies. Media today is filled with older generation remembrances of those years of horror a quarter century earlier, even as today they canabalize their own young by drafting young boys against their will into the evil Vietnam meat grinder, America's "Children for Breakfest Program" - collective amnesia as a war crazed older generation feeds its innocent kids to their god of greed war machine profiteering, "job creation" by shipping military implements to terrorize impoverished Asians.
Against overwhelming, terrifying, and urgent odds, Jimi delivers the deepest grief in Oklahoma; his purpose is integrated with unbelievably hypnotic sound. This is one of the most dramatically intense and sublimely inspired performances of his life. Of the 30 collected recordings of Machine Gun, this is the only version, other than the Band Of Gypsys album version,
where Jimi sustains a steady, uninterrupted burst of siren feedback at the start of his solo (on all other versions he is heard either plucking the string to sustain the siren or the hallmark sustained wail is omitted altogether). His solo in Oklahoma is utterly stunning, literally breathtaking, arresting and incomprehensible. It gnaws at the limits of sensation and swells beyond the bounds of perception. The Experience never came near the profundity nor the intentions of this music. And this performance of Machine Gun contains the most elaborate introduction music of them all. Every
section and feature of it is significant. Jimi rises to the occasion as only he can. Applause swells to a roar from the grateful students.
"Ah, somebody here informed us to put down your cigars," says Jimi.
They shout a collective and defiant. "NOOOOO!"
"Are they really gonna put them out?" he asks someone. "We did Machine Gun and all that,
um, fallin' again, put-it-under-the-bed, see him bouncin' right up to ya, three-hundred pounds
puts ya on the street. It's called Look Out Baby 'Cos Here Comes Your Lover Man, and I appreciate your patience, on with the tune."
The R&B rhythms of Lover Man sound much more traditional after the spaciness of Machine Gun. Jimi plays festive leads for this standard rocker and jams to a flamenco climax.
"Yeah, this is dedicated to the girl who gave me head, ah, and, ah, this other thing.
We call this one Foxy Lady." Whatever he did in the "local apartment" in between sets
to "prepare" for this show helped put him in an apt mood for this crotch-rock. But Foxy is
followed by a return-to-yearn, a heart wrenching blues, as he rambles into Hear My Train A' Comin'. Pointedly, he gathers his
tangents and takes aim at the wailing wall. The leads fan out for fantastic climactic pockets;
like knots in cut lumber the cadences are musical jewels. Tumbling out of altered-dream despair he
sings, "I gotta leave this town" while the guitar sighs a great sob of pathos. Conjured up
from Muse, this is a never-to-be-heard-again motif of mood; custom carved for this moment
only. It is staggering to understand how continuously Jimi harnessed the chance aspects of
electric feedback to orchestrate masterful melodies from amp signals that most other musicians instinctively avoid. It was his nature to gamble with his playing, but his rate of success defies the laws of probability. The sound of Hear My Train is miraculous.
He introduces a song from his new album; "We'll turn you on to a thing called Message
To Love." The best version of this tune is heard on his current Band Of Gypsys album, where it is
originally titled "Message To Love". Since Jimi's death the title has been changed on many
album covers to erroneously read "Message of Love", or worse, "Power of Love". Jimi's title
does not contain the preposition "of"; his title uses the verb "to" - as in "the message is TO
love." This is one of his happiest songs and its danceable progression makes it
perfect for concerts. Almost all of his two-dozen 1970 concert recordings contain a version
of Message To Love. Buddy Miles' backing vocals were dropped from the song when Mitch
took over on drums in April, and Mitch's rollicking percussions turn the tune into a much
splashier affair. The Oklahoma version is looser than the album performance, but it lacks the
tight polish that makes the Band Of Gypsys album rendition so special.
Without comment, Hendrix next picks the intro to Red House. Billy's buoyant bass helps
make this blues darker and more direct than the spacier versions with Noel Redding on bass. Jimi's riffs orbit
into piercing screams before he backs off with 12-bars of slick afterthoughts. The blues conclude masterfully and it is time for the National Anthem.
"Let's play America the way it really is today. This is some type of newness!" Jimi shouts through prehistoric feedback
growls. Mercilessly, the sentiments are dissected and reconstructed with enough exaggeration
to match the establishment's hypocrisy; land of the sleeze and home of the slaves.
As the last chord dissolves, Jimi says quickly, "America today! Keep thinkin'" and pounds into Purple Haze. The crowd's manic clap accompanies the break:
Whatever it is that kiss, put a spell on me… - Jimi
Treble squeals peel from his freaked out solo; his teeth savagely lash at the strings as he zips back
into the theme. But it's too extreme, he breaks a string and must hold a note in sustain while a roadie
quickly plugs in another guitar. "Thankyou for waitin'! Thankyou," he shouts as Purple surges on. Regaining authority, he finishes off with wild stringus-cunnilingus, licking and flicking his instrument as passionate approval explodes in the field house.
"Thankyou very much. We have Billy Cox on bass, Mitch on drums," Jimi and the band leave
the stage amidst chants for more. They return for their "rare encore" and go right into Voodoo
Child - which is normally their closing song anyway. Jill's tape runs out during the solo. This second show runs for approximately 70 minutes and contains monumental musical peaks.
Mick looks at Jill sitting on the sofa next to him. She's reading an oversized book
by Edward S. Curtis titled Visions of a Vanishing Race. "Whatcha readin' about?" he asks.
"Indian legends." She closes the book and sets it beside her. "There's an American Indian
prophecy that predicts one will come among them who will plead their case before the white
man and all around him will be chaos."
"Is that Jimi?"
"He fits the bill, but Jimi really relates to all oppressed people."
Mick pauses briefly then asks, "Do you hafta go back to Oklahoma after the summer?"
"I have one more year before I get my degree." She looks down at her book and adds,
"But I'd really like to do something to help stop the war if I can."
Mick stands and glances out the window just as the street lamps light up in the twilight,
"I'd like to bomb the Pentagon! But if I'm not home before dark I'll get grounded."
Jill laughs and walks him to the door. "Tell Mary I'll stop by tomorrow." Mick thanks her for the music and hops on his bike. He's anxious to meet Lane at school tomorrow and tell him about Jimi's special concert in Oklahoma.
* * * * * * * * * * * *
Malcolm and Cliff take their last exam of the semester on Friday afternoon. Gates open
at 1 pm. tomorrow for the rock festival in Philadelphia so they plan to leave after dinner
for a nearly 400 mile drive south. Cliff packs his father's movie camera and swings by
to pick up Malcolm at half past six. Mrs. Tent opens the door and he hears Malcolm, Millie
and Lane jeering Evening News reports of more deadly campus violence. This time state troopers and city police have gunned down 11 black students at Jackson State College in Mississippi.
The trouble began two nights earlier when a white activist passed out leaflets urging
protest against Nixon's invasion of Cambodia. Many students at Jackson State were charging that
too many blacks were being sent to Vietnam immediately after they graduated. On Thursday night
police received complaints about rocks being thrown at cars passing along Lynch Street, which
bisects the campus. Seventy-five cops and troopers, carrying loaded shotguns and rifles, were sent over to Lynch. Kent State had signaled open season on students and rednecks were ready for the hunt. They found a small pile of burning boards at the edge of the campus and called in a fire truck to extinguish it. The only gathering this posse encountered was a crowd of about 200 students clustered in front of a girls' dormitory. The group was under the control of campus security officers, none of the students bore any firearms. They watched the fire trucks parked two blocks away. When the trucks moved into the area, a police radio blared "sniper fire!"
The Dormitory on Lynch Street
Fire Captain George Selby, who was on the fire truck, later recalled, "We did have a few marks on the truck, but these may be from rocks that were thrown at it on the way out."
The posse lined up execution style in front of the girls' dorm. No tear gas was used and
no warnings were given. TV reporter Jack Hobbs said, "All of a sudden a bottle shattered
at my feet." The trigger happy pigs immediately opened fire for 30 seconds and discharged
several hundred rounds into the crowd of unarmed spectators. They fired .00 buckshot - enough to kill a deer at 100 yards. Seventeen year old James Green and 21 year old Phillip Gibb fell dead; nine others were critically wounded - all of them black.
Cops claimed that they'd taken a sniper shot from the dormitory before they fired. The
students maintained that no shot was fired before the police attack. A group of Senators and Congressmen inspected the bullet riddled building several days
later. "It looks like Normandy, the size of the weapons." said one of them.
"Like Normandy" - Bullet Riddled
Senator Walter Mondale stated, "It's a new national syndrome - the unfound sniper. Every
time there's an overreaction, that unfound sniper always gets the blame." It was this "syndrome"
that allowed radical cops to perform legal homicide; again, none of the murderers were ever
brought to justice.
Many campuses had already shut down after Kent State. Those that were still open were at
the tail end of their semesters on Friday, May 15th. The killings at Jackson State became a
national issue, but reaction was less dramatic and headline grabbing than the reaction to Kent
State eleven days earlier. Black Panthers had become infamous for sniping at cops in city ghettos.
Much of the public regarded Jackson State as another shootout between black militants and cops.
Violence among young blacks was commonplace, even expected. What made the Jackson State killings
notorious was that they occurred in the wake of Kent State at another campus. It was the deadly encounter between
middle class white students and troops in Ohio that was uncommon and focused widespread outrage. Cops killing protesters is like the spread of heroin; it becames a hot media issue only when it affects middle class whites, even though such violence has terrorized black ghettos for decades. For those who related the fight to stop the war with the fight against racism, the murders in Mississippi only inflamed already intense anger. The 1969-1970 school year saw a wave of 250 terrorist bombings, at least 9 student deaths, and 247 cases of arson. In New York City alone, during the first ten months of 1970, police investigated more than 8700 bombing cases; up from 3192 cases for the entire year of 1969.
Jack watchs TV reports about Jackson State from the dinner table and sneers, "All them radical niggers oughtta git the firing squad."
"This'll teach these college brats to stop making trouble for the government," hopes Mary.
"They'll never learn," adds Jack, "they're too dumb to get educated in high school, that's why they gotta keep goin' to college, heh-heh-heh."
Mick swallows a fish stick and pretends to ignore them. He thinks about how they never eat meat on Friday because Jesus supposedly died on a Friday. Then at Mass on Sunday they swallow make-believe "body of Christ" cookies and claim the snack drives away evil spirits. The whole klan is as crazy as cannibals who
won't eat a killing on weekly anniversaries of its death. Mick flees upstairs and turns on
Clyde's radio. He feels uplifted as he hears Melanie's new song, Lay Down (candles in the rain).
* * * * * * * * * * * *
The next day Malcolm and Cliff are among the first people to enter Temple Stadium in Philadelphia (exactly 15 years later Temple Stadium would be used to house the thousands of blacks
made homeless after Philadelphia cops bombed a commune called "the Move" and caused several whole blocks
of the ghetto to burn to the ground). Billed as the "Super Saturday Rock Festival", Temple
Stadium has the distinction of being the first "rock festival" of 1970. With the Woodstock
movie and album a current hit, festivals are now the rage of the counterculture more than ever
before. Any outdoor concert with four or more bands is likely to be called a festival. Super
Saturday may be a one day affair in a university football stadium, but it is outdoors
and it does feature Jimi Hendrix and the Grateful Dead - both of whom are veterans of
The sky is heavily overcast and temperatures hovere in the 60s. Malcolm and Cliff sit
on their sleeping bags directly in front of the stage. Malcolm looks up at the threatening
dark clouds and says, "I hope it doesn't rain."
"If it does it'll be like Woodstock," muses Cliff.
"At least we're not in a cow pasture."
Cactus opens the show at 3 pm. A couple of the band members used to be in Vanilla Fudge
when they toured with the Experience in the summer and fall of 1968. Next came the Ides Of
March to sing their current hit Vehicle. They sound like Chicago Transit Authority.
When the Grateful Dead appear in the late afternoon, Cliff points his movie camera at a beardless Jerry Garcia and then turns it to film some tripping freex around the stage. Night
has fallen by the time left-handed Steve Miller comes on stage with an upside-down Strat. Cliff catches a few seconds of Miller for the novelty of his Hendrix-style guitar.
Star Spangled Jimi
Finally Jimi strolls out onto the dark stage. The lights are dim and it's difficult
for people to see him clearly from any distance. Cliff rolls his camera as a strobe of
flashbulbs light up Jimi's shimmering gold sequin vest and star spangled shirt. Multi colored scarves droop beside his turquoise bellbottoms and a pink feather is tucked in his red and white polka-dot
headband. He looks like a stoned Geronimo on the warpath. Yesterday's killings at Jackson State fill his voice with anger as he complains, "DRAG that America's guns have made the CRACK in the Liberty Bell their symbol (the Liberty Bell is nearby in Philadelphia). And we'd like to
do a thing called Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band." This tune is not mentioned in any of Jimi's concert reviews after March 1968
and only two recordings of Hendrix playing it in 1970 have been found. A drum roll from Mitch kicks off the set as Jimi sings just the first four verses before
stretching out with 24 bars of soloing. The mammoth blast of the band comes to rest on a booming E-chord and Jimi slashes straight into Johnny B. Goode. After two bars he realizes he's in the wrong key and quickly jumps up a whole step from A to B and starts again. Only three versions of this Chuck Berry classic have turned up on the 120 known Hendrix concert recordings, although
Johnny B. Goode is mentioned in a few reviews of other unrecorded shows. The song is a standard number at
Grateful Dead concerts in 1970, but the intense energy with which Jimi pumps it up
here bears little resemblance to the Dead's version. Demonic throb propels Billy's
earthquake bass. Jimi's riffs sizzle from the amps as if his fingers were flame throwers
slithering over the strings. Freeks scream under the onslaught; it's rock 'n roll in the
grandest tradition and Jimi tops the bill.
"Crack in the Liberty Bell - their symbol" at 0:08
Johnny B. Goode at Temple Stadium
Now the crowd is primed for Hendrix to take to task the issue at hand. "And then we have the American Revolution," he blurts, "which is in the third and last phase, fake love for the, ah, LIE people who sold their faith, which will take care of that one (riffs). Like to do a thing in memory to
all the cats that spilled a little bit of blood here and there in their lives and everything; the people who just didn't make it, but they did, really, because like they're makin' it for us and we're gonna make it for somebody else, for our children and so forth."
"Right on!" shouts Cliff.
"Dig him, dig him, all together, right on together! There's a whole lotta cats fightin' wars within themselves, so then we can relate it like any kind of way. A thing called Machine Gun." A collective "YEAH!" greets the anthem of the day. Jimi trills three notes faster and fast
and tumbles through somber mood. He does not play with meditative pathos like he did in Oklahoma a week ago. Yesterday's student murders in Mississippi have the Temple University students riled. Jimi reflects their aggression and tears out turgid and scathing mayhem. He pushes his
leads to insane extremes out of sheer indignation. The amps expel a torrent of hostile howls
before he concludes with a bizarre cacophony of distortion. Abruptly, he shuts down the tumult.
There is silence as the freaked-out crowd is caught unaware by the surprise ending; a full 10 seconds pass before
their blown heads can muster a response. With their recovery, Jimi mercifully shifts back to
rock 'n' roll. The shattered composure of Grateful Dead fans is regained during a danceable
rendition of Lover Man. A swirling ending spews shockwaves as if an electrical storm had
descended upon the stage. Then Foxy Lady swells from the black Strat. Just before he sings, Jimi
stretches the strings for a freaky descent of feedback. Cliff films him nipping the instrument
with his lips and balling the neck against the mike stand. The crowd is ecstatic, this concert
is already legendary.
Machine Gun at Temple Stadium
Geronimo Warpath Feather in Headband
With a few mumbled words Jimi "pleads the case" amidst national chaos and boogies appropriately into Freedom. The band banters through a carnival of urgency. Red House comes next and Hendrix relaxes for the first time since the show began. He drawls his lyrics leisurely in between metallic clips of blues. Careening over the bended strings, he tilts and sways with the waves. It's not an epic version of Red House, it's just flawless and sufficient. Fire flares next and he extends his solo to include melodies from Outside Woman Blues mixed with snatches of Sunshine of Your Love. Stinging sweet leads extinguish this number.
"This cat's waitin' at the train station called Get My Heart Back Together," says Jimi. His mysterious blues attain enhanced sadness through the Univibe pedal's liquid pulse effect. Perhaps it's too sad because Jimi soon lapses into perfunctory riffing and Hear My Train fails to really roll in Temple Stadium. It runs an abbreviated course and prematurely lops into Purple Haze. Jimi begins with bloated guitar tones, but the band keeps the beat intact. He's lost the intensity and
drive that propelled the first half of the show. Purple Haze unfolds seamlessly but struggles to gather the head of steam that usually bursts into dizzying climax. Instead, Jimi
quietly winds down to doodle a delicate bridge leading into Voodoo Child (slight return). Suddenly a
star spangled Hendrix returns to bubble with funk and blue notes. This show is driven out with
determined vigor as a weird string of bitten tones brings down the house. Jimi waves goodbye
to his adoring fans and the stadium lights come on.
Back in Rochester the next day, Malcolm draws the curtains in his attic bedroom so that just a sliver a sunlight seeps in around the edges.
"There, now it's threaded," mutters Cliff as he fidgets with the 8mm projector. He flips the switch and a white square illuminates
the bed sheet tacked to the wall. Scenes of the Grateful Dead at Temple Stadium appear. From
the front row Cliff's camera pans the smiling band members before the angle turns to capture a
freek in the crowd waving a sparkler against the clouds. Suddenly the screen goes dark and
Steve Miller is seen briefly with his inverted Hendrix-style Strat. After Jimi died, Miller recalled this concert. "I played a show with Hendrix at Temple University in Philadelphia," he told a journalist, "and at that time the cat's scene was so far gone that he walked by me and smelled like he was dying. There were cats walking around with .38s in their pockets, his band was fucked up and couldn't play. I'm sorry that the cat died. I loved him as a musician and I'm sorry that the audience encourages people to burn themselves up, and I'm sorry that he didn't have anymore sense than he had, because he was dead a long time ago." Anyone who hears the Hendrix recording from Temple Stadium will understand why Miller's characterization of Jimi's set there is absurd. The collected Hendrix concert recordings reveal that Jimi, far from being "so far gone…couldn't play…dead a long time ago", was instead delivering his finest live music throughout the spring of 1970, including the show at Temple. Upon hearing the tape, one is left wondering who really was "fucked up" that night. Perhaps Steve Miller - with his upside-down Hendrix-style Strat - had some other compelling reason to dismiss what he witnessed that night.
Cliff's film shows popping flashbulbs strobe Jimi's image, revealing him sprinkled with stars and scarves, his sequin vest glitters like a Christmas tree. Pink, orange, red and blue outlines penetrate the dim dark as he straddles the black Strat. If there'd been a spotlight on him the scene would be spectacular. The camera zooms in for Jimi's rap to the crowd and then catches the ending of Foxy Lady; the guitar neck is slid across the mic stand as he exhales forward to expose his headband's pink feather sticking out over his right shoulder. Mick is awed by every frame of the three and a half minute film. Home movies of aliens from space couldn't have fascinated him more…
Walking home from school on a muggy afternoon in June, Mick passed the Mason's house and saw Jill reading on a porch chair. He plods up the driveway and
asks, "Whatcha readin'?" She holds up the cover of Aldous Huxley's Brave New World for him to see. An envelope is
inserted like a bookmarker between the pages. "My roommate at OU saw Jimi in her hometown. I got a letter from her today. She said it was a great show, but she lives in Tulsa, Oklahoma," Jill explains. "Tulsa used to be the oil capital of the world. But the oil was on Indian
reservations so politicians had to get judges to declare the Indians crazy and take away their land. No one likes to talk about Indians in Tulsa." She pulled an article out of her envelop and gave it to Mick. He winced when he saw the headline, "Hendrix Loud Noise Not Very Appealing". This Tulsa Daily World article is written by Bob Beck:
The Jimi Hendrix Experience hit Tulsa Sunday night (June 7th), something the city could have done without. The best description of the show - Hendrix on guitar, Mitch Mitchell on drums, and Billy Cox on bass - is that it was a bad experience. That may sound like a pun, but it is the nicest thing to be said for the hour and a half of noise that blared from the Civic Assembly Center Arena and entranced 4700 teenagers. Not that the entire show was a waste. The lead-in group, Ball & Jack from Los Angeles, exhibited some real talent…About the only complaint with Ball & Jack's performance was that it was much too good to be given only 45 minutes to lead into the Hendrix group.
To say Hendrix & Co. do not have any talent is misleading. Cox and Mitchell are good backup men and probably could put out some good sounds, except that leader Hendrix distracts from them with his attempted playing and singing. His wild gyrations and contortive playing are the most obnoxious, but his singing, which unfortunately could be heard above the noise, is a close second. To make up for his lack of quality, he substitutes quantity and trick guitar playing. It may not have occurred to the average person, but the guitar can be played by mouth, between legs, behind the head and back, or by rubbing it against a microphone stand. The resulting sound didn't resemble good music, but it did get wild responses from the audience, none of whom would probably be able to vote if the voting age were 18.
The first few numbers were bad enough, but when Hendrix started into a rendition of the Star Spangled Banner, complete with electronically produced sound effects such as bombs exploding and machine guns firing, the show reached a low point from which it never recovered. By this time the audience was on its feet, dancing in the aisles and chairs. The police gave up trying to seat the swaying, rocking crowd and formed a living fence to keep the stage cleared of everything but the performers. They had the wrong idea; things would have been better if the audience had been on stage - their dancing was more entertaining.
An advance publicity release said that "when people go to (a Hendrix) concert they begin to let their minds flow...they begin to feel the primitive sounds that Jimi produces from his guitar." One can only hope that the primitives had better taste in music.
* * * * * * * * * * * *
Mick hands the article back to Jill. "Asking this guy to review Hendrix is like asking Hitler for his opinion of Jewish art," she notes.
"Malcolm says Jimi doesn't do tricks with his guitar unless he's really getting the music together," Mick tells her.
"It doesn't matter how together his concerts are," Jill replies with a sigh. "He's a symbol of the freex, that's all the establishment needs to know." She pulls out a cassette of the Tulsa gig that her roommate sent. Mick listens to Jimi and nearly gags, the music sounds so beautiful…