Despite appalling weather and holiday absences, Vinyl On Wednesdays’ long-awaited celebration of the music of Jimi Hendrix not only maintained the event’s current golden run but ranks among the best the Temple Street Wine bar has seen (I know I say this every month but they’ve been awesome lately!)
Organised to fall 50 years since Hendrix brought the Woodstock Festival to an era-defining close with his incendiary reimagining of ‘The Star Spangled Banner’ to mirror the turmoil of the Vietnam war, we welcomed special guest John Perry, the Only Ones guitarist who wrote the 331/3 series book about Electric Ladyland, Jimi’s 1968 third album, along with V.O.W. regular Jay Burnett, who remembered his time working at Electric Lady studio.
John held the sizeable crowd rapt reading from his book and recalling witnessing Hendrix live several times, including from several feet away in his early days, emphasising the humour and loose mischief in Jimi’s act that often gets overlooked, along with the effect it had on Eric Clapton and other UK guitarists.
Responding to questions, he explained in detail how Hendrix influenced his own guitar playing in the Only Ones.
One audience member reminded me how, being only twelve years old I wasn’t allowed to attend Hendrix’s solitary Aylesbury appearance on March 28 1967 at the Borough Assembly Hall after I’d described the time I did see him play at the Royal Albert Hall in February ‘69 (as detailed in Just A Shot Away: 1969 Revisited, my new book that’s now in production!).
Jay remembered seeing Hendrix live, recalling the decor and set-up at Electric lady, Jimi’s dream studio which, tragically he only got to use a few times.
Sadly, we couldn’t avoid talking about Jimi’s September 1970 passing which we agreed could’ve been avoided if the police and ambulance crew had paid more attention.
With co-organiser Rick Pearce manning the deck, Hendrix’s music periodically roared through the speakers, including Electric Ladyland tracks and alternative recording of ‘The Star Spangled Banner’ I picked up in 1987 after a trip to Las Vegas with Alice Cooper saw me get stranded in Los Angeles, working in a record shop and getting paid in illegal albums instead of dollars.
The room also shook with the jaw-dropping ‘Machine Gun’, Jimi unleashing his torrential genius at full, unfettered throttle.
After Hendrix died, his mantle was grabbed by George Clinton and his renegade starship troopers Parliament-Funkadelic - the subject of the next V.O.W. on September 11, when I’ll be recounting their barely-believable tales of interstellar funk, extreme behaviour and schemes including landing a lifesize flying saucer onstage, drawing from another book I wrote called George Clinton & The Cosmic Odyssey of the P-Funk Empire. Hopefully another classic night’s in store.