Jimi Hendrix Unplugged: Two Rare Recordings of Hendrix Playing Acoustic Guitar

As a young guitar player, perhaps no one inspired me as much as Jimi Hendrix, though I never dreamed I’d attain even a fraction of his skill. But what attracted me to him was his near-total lack of formality—he didn’t read music, wasn’t trained in any classical sense, played an upside-down right-handed guitar as a lefty, and fully engaged his head and heart in every note, never pausing for an instant (so it seemed) to second-guess whether it was the right one. I knew his raw emotive playing was firmly rooted in the Delta blues, but it wasn’t until later in my musical journey that I discovered his return to more traditional form after he disbanded The Experience and formed Band of Gypsys with Billy Cox and Buddy Miles. While most of the recordings he made with them didn’t see official release, they’ve appeared since his death in compilation after boxset after compilation, including one of the most beloved of Hendrix’s blues songs, “Hear My Train A Comin’.”

Originally titled “Get My Heart Back Together” when he played it at Woodstock in 1969, the song is pure roots, with lyrics that bespeak of both Hendrix’s loneliness and his playful dreams of greatness. (“I’m gonna buy this town / And put it all in my shoe.”) Several versions of the song float around on various posthumous releases—both live and as studio outtakes (including two different takes on the excellent 1994 Blues). But we have the rare treat, above, of seeing Hendrix play the song on a twelve-string acoustic guitar, Lead Belly’s instrument of choice. The footage comes from the 1973 documentary film Jimi Hendrix (which you can watch on Youtube for $1.99). Hendrix first plays the intro, seated alone in an all-white studio, playing folk-style with the fingers of his left hand. It is, of course, flawless, yet still he stops and asks the filmmakers for a redo. “I was scared to death,” he says, betraying the shyness and self-doubt that lurked beneath his mind-blowing ability and flamboyant persona. His playing is no less perfect when he picks up the tune again and plays it through.

Solo acoustic recordings of Hendrix—film and audio—are incredibly rare. In fact, the only other footage may be the short clip above of Hendrix at a party playing a partial blues rendition of “Hound Dog.” If like me you’re a fan of Hendrix, acoustic blues, or both, these videos will make you hunger for more Jimi unplugged. While Hendrix did more than anyone before him to turn guitar amps into instruments with his squalls of electric feedback and distorted wah-wah squeals, when you strip his playing down to basics, he’s still pretty much as good as it gets.

Related Content:

Jimi Hendrix’s Final Interview Animated (1970)

‘Electric Church’: The Jimi Hendrix Experience Live in Stockholm, 1969

Jimi Hendrix Plays “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” Days After the Song Was Released (1967)

Josh Jones is a writer and musician based in Durham, NC. Follow him at @jdmagness.



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  1. Andrew Varnell says . . . | April 23, 2014 / 5:22 pm

    was this a rkrd str day find?

  2. Steven Brooks says . . . | April 23, 2014 / 8:49 pm

    How are these ‘extremely rare’ when they’re readily available on home video and have been for decades?

  3. voots says . . . | April 23, 2014 / 8:58 pm

    No these are not rare! It is a shame that after Jimi passed that his family was active or at least complicit with releasing every little poop that Jimi made just get bring more money to the estate.

  4. Tirtha says . . . | April 24, 2014 / 1:59 am

    Wow, the party ‘Hound dog’ video is indeed extremely rare. Thank you so much for sharing it with the world. God bless you!

  5. Christopher Pappas says . . . | April 24, 2014 / 3:50 am

    I’m a HUGE Hendrix fan! Have seen his documentary dozens of times. I play an old fender Strat and have studied his approach on guitar, (most notably his rythym playing). A very rare shooting star. Where might I find that particular documentary?

  6. Josh says . . . | April 24, 2014 / 8:56 am

    Hear My Train A Comin’ was released on Jimi Hendrix, Blues in 1994; and it was acoustic, this sounds like the same take even (without the outtake intro). It was considered a rarity when released, it seems that they had to take the audio from this clip for it. Great album, buy it!

  7. Shelley Byrd says . . . | April 24, 2014 / 9:38 am

    Thanks for sharing:-)

  8. apm says . . . | April 24, 2014 / 9:43 am

    Hear My Train a Comin’ was a originally on the soundtrack to the film Jimmy Hendrix. I was totally amazed when I first had a chance to see him play that track from the album (in the movie). The funny about the stop and restart is that he is playing song completely differently the 1st time through. It even sounds in a different key. I always wondered about that stop and retake and what the first version really was.

    When this obscure song comes up now and then I always have to stop and listen to it. The video of course is a must see. It really is an amazing little bit that Hendrix makes look so easy. I’ve tried to play it and have the transcription in great detail from Guitar Player magazine but its so damn complicated because there is a lot of little detail to get it to come out sounding so great. Let alone try singing to it!

    Thanks for posting and your commentary is very interesting also.

    I’ve never ever heard or seen the 2nd video. Also an interesting nugget!

  9. Me says . . . | April 24, 2014 / 10:43 am

    @APM. You have no business commenting about Jimi if you don’t know how to spell his name! JIMI. NOT Jimmy WTF

  10. Chris says . . . | April 24, 2014 / 11:44 am

    “Hear My Train A Comin’ was released on Jimi Hendrix, Blues in 1994; and it was acoustic, this sounds like the same take even (without the outtake intro). It was considered a rarity when released, it seems that they had to take the audio from this clip for it.”

    That in itself does not make it even close to rare. It, the footage, is sourced from a 1974 documentary which is by no means a hard to find documentary. The footage itself is used in a number of documentaries.

    An internet article without an overblown clickbait headline is as close to what you could call ‘rare’ these days.

  11. Rick says . . . | April 27, 2014 / 11:18 pm

    I loved the guy! man, this is rare footage, and extremely appreciated!! Thank you, Jimi, for such great music; so much talent, such a great loss. Wish we could have met and jammed. Peace in death, that alluded you in life, my brother.

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