Watch Rare Footage of Jimi Hendrix Performing “Voodoo Child” in Maui, Plus a Trailer for a New Documentary on Jimi Hendrix’s Legendary Maui Performances (1970)

In June of 1969, the orig­i­nal Jimi Hen­drix Expe­ri­ence, the band that intro­duced the six­ties to its reign­ing gui­tar god, dis­band­ed for good with the depar­ture of Noel Red­ding fol­low­ing a messy Den­ver Pop Fes­ti­val appear­ance. The sto­ry of that gig sounds so apocalyptic—involving hero­in, riots, and tear gas—that it reads like cos­mic fore­shad­ow­ing of the tragedy to come: the decades’ great­est psych-rock­ers go out in a haze of smoke. A lit­tle over one year lat­er, Jimi is dead.

But if he seemed burned out in Den­ver, accord­ing to his band­mates, it was no indi­ca­tion at all of where his music was head­ed. Much of the ten­sion in the band came from Hendrix’s readi­ness to embark on the next phase of his evo­lu­tion. After Red­ding left, he was imme­di­ate­ly replaced by Bil­ly Cox, who played with Hen­drix at Wood­stock in the first incar­na­tion of the Band of Gyp­sys, with whom Hen­drix record­ed “Machine Gun,” described by musi­col­o­gist Andy Ale­dort as “the pre­miere exam­ple of his unpar­al­leled genius as a rock gui­tarist.”

In wild­ly impro­visato­ry per­for­mances, Hen­drix strove to incor­po­rate the rad­i­cal moves of Coltrane. He had “tran­scend­ed the medi­um of rock music,” writes Ale­dort, “and set an entire­ly new stan­dard for the poten­tial of elec­tric gui­tar.” The drugs inter­vened, again, and after a dis­as­trous gig at Madi­son Square Gar­den in Jan­u­ary 1970, the Band of Gyp­sys broke up. Then, the Expe­ri­ence reformed, with Cox on bass and Mitch Mitchell on drums, and began record­ing and tour­ing the U.S.

When Jimi wasn’t too high to play, he deliv­ered some of the most blis­ter­ing per­for­mances of his career, includ­ing two leg­endary sets in Hawaii in July, at the foot of Haleakala vol­cano, that would end up being his final con­cert appear­ances in the U.S. These sets were not, in fact, sched­uled tour stops but over 50 min­utes of per­for­mance for a semi-fic­tion­al psy­che­del­ic film called Rain­bow Bridge, noto­ri­ous for mak­ing lit­tle sense and for cut­ting almost all of the promised live footage of Hendrix’s per­for­mance, anger­ing every­one who saw it.

The film’s promised sound­track nev­er mate­ri­al­ized, and fans have long cov­et­ed these record­ings, espe­cial­ly the sec­ond set, “a test­ing ground,” one fan writes, “for his new direc­tion.” Now, they’re final­ly get­ting an offi­cial release, on CD, Blu-Ray, and LP on Novem­ber 20th. (See a full track­list of the two sets here.) This is no out­takes & rar­i­ties cash grab, but an essen­tial doc­u­ment of Hen­drix at the height of his pow­ers, one year after the Expe­ri­ence seemed to crash and burn. See for your­self in the clip of “Voodoo Child (Slight Return)” at the top.

It’s too bad that this high point of Hendrix’s final year has been over­shad­owed by the dis­mal fail­ure of the film that made it hap­pen. But a new doc­u­men­tary, Music, Mon­ey, Mad­ness… Jimi Hen­drix in Maui aims to restore this episode of Hen­drix his­to­ry. Com­ing out on the same day as the live record­ings, Novem­ber 20th, the film (see trail­er above) includes more live Hen­drix footage than appeared in Rain­bow Bridge, and tells the sto­ry of how a ter­ri­ble movie got made around the great­est rock musi­cian of the day. The per­for­mances that did­n’t make the cut tell anoth­er story—about how Hen­drix was, again, doing things with the gui­tar that no one had ever done before.

via Boing Boing

Relat­ed Con­tent:  

Hear the Last Time the Jimi Hen­drix Expe­ri­ence Ever Played Togeth­er: The Riotous Den­ver Pop Fes­ti­val of 1969

See a Full Jimi Hen­drix Expe­ri­ence Con­cert on Restored Footage Thought Lost for 35 Years

Jimi Hendrix’s Final Inter­view on Sep­tem­ber 11, 1970: Lis­ten to the Com­plete Audio

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

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