Maybe there’s truth to the old joke about the 60s—“If you remember it, you weren’t there”—but it's hard to believe anyone could forget seeing Hendrix. If you caught him in Stockholm in 1969 however and it somehow slipped your mind, you can relive it again for the first time in the well-preserved, newly restored concert film above: a full hour of “electric church music” from the Jimi Hendrix Experience.
The event was not meant to have been preserved at all. As Catarina Wilson of Sweden’s public television station SVT explained to the BBC, the tape should have been erased and reused because the station couldn’t afford to keep so much raw footage. Some technician at the station likely realized its value and stashed it away. Since it was unlabeled, the footage sat forgotten on the shelf for 35 years, until a team undertook a project of transferring archival material to digital and discovered the full Hendrix gig.
“The tape was shot on January 9, 1969 at Stockholm’s Konserthuset,” reports Swedish news site The Local, “for a pop music show called ‘Nummer 9.’ Only ten minutes of the concert was broadcast on January 21st of that year.” After their introduction, Hendrix dedicates the show to “the American deserters society”—soldiers refusing to go to Vietnam, some of whom may have been in the audience. Then, after a little tuning up and another obscure dedication, the band launches into “Killing Floor.”
See the full tracklist for the Stockholm Konserthuset show below (the tape cuts off right before the encore).
01 Killing Floor
02 Spanish Castle Magic
03 Fire 04 Hey Joe
05 Voodoo Child (Slight Return)
06 Red House
07 Sunshine Of Your Love
Hendrix also mentions that the band will only play “oldies but baddies,” hinting at one of the many tensions between him and bassist Noel Redding that broke the band apart just six months later. “The audience wanted us to play the old Hendrix standards,” Redding told Rolling Stone in November, “but Jimi wanted to do his new stuff. The last straw came at the Denver Pop Festival when Jimi told a reporter that he was going to enlarge the band… without even consulting myself or our drummer, Mitch Mitchell.”
Compared to this surely memorable, yet fairly standard Stockholm concert, the Experience’s last stage appearance in Denver “ended up being an unforgettable show,” notes Ultimate Classic Rock, "for all the wrong reasons”—containing all the things we associate with the chaotic late sixties. Hendrix dropped acid before the gig. “Combined with the near-riot that took place outside of the venue by those who demanded that the promoters make the event free, it made for a bad vibe overall.”
You can hear that concert above, including Hendrix’s declaration, mid-way through the set, that it would be “the last gig we’ll ever play together.” Just a few minutes later, police fired tear gas into the crowd, the wind blew it back toward the stage, and “the Experience set down their instruments for the final time and fled for cover.” Redding quit that night and boarded a plane for London, and just over a year later, Hendrix was gone.
Josh Jones is a writer and musician based in Washington, DC. Follow him @jdmagness.