Forty years ago Saturday (Sept. 18), the world lost guitar god Jimi Hendrix at the age of only 27. To celebrate his brief but intensely creative life, we shine a spotlight on five of his amazing live performances. Many have set guitars on fire and played behind their back (and with their teeth!) since, but no one did it like the master.
1. “Wild Thing” at Monterey Pop, June 18, 1967
Origin of the phrase, “his playing was on fire!” Don’t try this at home!
2. “Sgt. Peppers Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band” in London, Dec. 22, 1967
It’s one thing to rock a Beatles cover, quite another to apply mind-boggling guitar acrobatics to it, and another thing altogether to do it in front of the Beatles themselves (Paul is said to have been in the crowd). As Hendrix himself says, watch out for your ears.
3. “The Star Spangled Banner” at Woodstock, Aug. 18, 1969
Good morning, campers! This may be the only documented time that hundreds of thousands of people didn’t dread a Monday morning at 9 a.m. The National Anthem was never the same after Hendrix’s famously mind-bending psychedelic performance at Woodstock.
4. Hendrix on “The Dick Cavett Show,” Sept. 9, 1969
Hendrix may have already been a sensation with British kids and cool Americans who caught him at Monterey Pop and Woodstock, but he didn’t make his U.S. TV debut until Dick Cavett unleashed “Machine Gun” on the masses.
5. Jimi at The Isle of Wight, Aug. 30, 1970
Less than a month before he passed away, Hendrix lit up the massive Isle of Wight festival with “Purple Haze.”