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Jimi Hendrix's Two Crazy Nights That Changed Rock and Himself Forever

Remember the legendary guitarist Jimi Hendrix? His life was interrupted very early, he did not have much time. But six months before his death, an album was released that became the apotheosis of his work. We are talking about the incomparable Band of Gypsys. We remember the full history of the album, and also listen to the new concert album-Songs for Groovy Children: The Fillmore East Concerts.

Everything about Band of Gypsys and Songs for Groovy Children: The Fillmore East Concerts (2019) by Jimi Hendrix

Jimi Hendrix – one of the few musicians who was called a genius during his lifetime. He played the guitar expertly, and was proficient with both the instrument and his own hands. He only had one problem – he was a human being. Hendricks was just like everyone else: he was made up of skin and flesh.

Jimi Hendrix
Jimi Hendrix

The musician was gone at 27 years oldand it was a heavy musical loss. Everyone predicted a great future for him, fans were waiting for grandiose discoveries, and Hendrix himself in the last years of his life was slowly going crazy with new ones. creative ambitions.

All his life, he was a perfectionist, willing to spend years honing one tune to create flawless music. It was difficult to work with him: the musician forced himself and other musicians 40 times each re-record the same tunes, choosing the perfect version. It was difficult, but when he was at his peak, everyone recognized his talent.

And after half a century, the musician remains unsurpassed – in 2009 Time magazine named Hendricks the greatest guitarist ever of all time. People still listen to his albums… Why? It's all about the special approach that we wrote about above.

Jimi Hendrix at Fillmore
Jimi Hendrix at Fillmore

Hendrix's most special album was Band of Gypsys. And recently, in 2019, a concert album was released Songs for Groovy Children: The Fillmore East Concerts, consisting of live versions of tracks by Band of Gypsys. The concert album turned out to be no less epic than the studio album – it turned out about 5 hours music, 4 discs, and a completely different sound of songs: each disc had the same compositions, but the performance was strikingly different. How did this happen, and why did the concert hall become a cult? Let's try to figure it out.

Backstory: about Hendrix's childhood, his first bands, and how he signed the most ridiculous music contract ever

Jimi Hendrix as a child
Jimi Hendrix as a child

Jimi Hendrix was from Seattle and since childhood he was engaged in music. From birth, he was left-handedbut his father tried to retrain him because he believed that left-handedness comes from the devil. Because of this, Hendrix played a guitar that was tuned to right-handed a musician.

Under his father, he played as it should be with such a setup. And when he went to work, the boy played as he liked. But he didn't always retune the guitar itself, so he soon mastered the technique."upsidedown». This already made him a unique guitarist, but then-more.

Jimi Hendrix in 1967
Jimi Hendrix in 1967

Hendrix spent his days practicing with Seattle rock bands. I thought through melodies, texts, learned new techniques, listened to records BBC King and By Robert Johnson. He joined a promising band, The Velvetones, and for a while everything was fine. The musicians played, gave performances and even planned to record, but after a couple of months, Hendrix was detained police... The guy together with his dark-skinned friends engaged in car theft. They were caught and almost put in jail, but Hendrix's lawyer persuaded the judge to reduce the sentence and instead of a colony, the musician went for a year. to the army.

When he returned from the army, an old friend was waiting for him – Billy Cox, with whom Hendricks formed the band King Kasuals. The band was on the rise, and Hendrix himself often played along with popular musicians. He even played with Tina Turner, who was considered one of the best singers of that time.

Young Billy Cox
Young Billy Cox is a loyal friend and bassist of Jimi Hendrix

In 1965when Jimi's business picked up again, he was asked to sign the contract. He was supposed to work with sound engineer Ed Chalpin, receiving $ 1 and 1 percent of his fee. In the future, this greatly burdened Hendrix and spoiled his relationship with the studios. The musician had to sue to terminate the contract.

After that, he created a group The Blue Flames and played with her in "Cafe Wha?". There he was noticed and invited to create a new band, but this time the musicians were supposed to perform not in cafes, but at serious venues. A manager was found for the band and musicians were invited – By Noel Redding and Mitch Mitchell. You probably already guessed that this new band was legendary The Jimi Hendrix Experience?

Jimi Hendrix Experience
Jimi Hendrix Experience - Hendrix surrounded by Redding and Mitchell

The band didn't last long. If Billy Cox had known Hendrix almost from childhood and easily jammed with him when he had free time, it was difficult for all the other musicians to work with him. Experience's bassist, Noel Redding, had a particularly difficult time doing this. The band recorded 4 albums together, but then disagreements between Hendrix and Redding began to lead to the fact that the musicians became uncomfortable working together. That's what Redding said in 1969:

"For almost a year, we lived on each other's heads. Fatigue, illegal substances, fans, hotel theft-all of this made us desperate. We didn't talk about almost anything but money, because then we thought that only they could help Only a year ago we were united, trying to achieve success, and now we were splitting..."

After that, Hendrix began to become disillusioned with white musicians. In fact, there was no racism, but something like that was felt at work. He created another band, which also had white musicians. But in the end, he decided that it would be easier for him to work with African-American musicians.

This background It is extremely important for understanding the essence and history of the Band of Gypsys album. It was thanks to this path that the legendary album was released. Hendricks was tired, misunderstood, almost broken mentally. It seemed to him that everything that was being done – wrong:

"We became something like cornflakes for breakfast. We were enslaved to pop music fans. I felt that we were in danger of becoming the American version of Dave Dee, Dawsey, Mick and Teach. There's nothing wrong with that, but not for us. I had to get this over with and find something of my own. I'm tired of the fans ' attitude that they paid for your house and car and now they're sure you'll do what they want for the rest of your life..."

And what is the connection between Hendrix's fatigue, his desire for change, and his best album yet? The question is, of course, rhetorical. Let's understand how the cult was born Band of Gypsys.

Formation of the Band of Gypsys project and the history of the album of the same name

Initially, Hendricks assembled a band to perform at the Woodstock in 1969, and named it Gypsy Sun and Rainbows. The band consists of Billy Cox, drummer Mitch Mitchell, rhythm guitarist Larry Lee, and percussionists Jerry Velez and Yuma Sultan. Their performance is considered the best of all at the festival that year.

Gypsy Sun And Rainbows
Gypsy Sun And Rainbows

Hendrix performed his legendary song "Hey Joe"recorded back in the days of Experience, and the audience was thrilled.

But after Woodstock, the team broke up, with Hendricks remaining only Billy Cox and Buddy Miles - session drummer. All three of them were black, and they had an excellent rhythm. The friends played with Miles and spent a lot of time together. And later they formed a band. Here's what Billy Cox, who played with Hendrix, said about it::

"There was a lawsuit against Jimi. The only way out was to give them something to calm them down. Jimi came to me and explained what had happened, and we decided to give them a live album. Mitch was in England at the time, but Buddy often jammed with us. We asked him to play and he agreed. He said, " Let's help our friend who is in trouble." That's how we became Band of Gypsys."

The guys got together to help Hendricks and record only 1 album. The percussionists from Gypsy Sun and Rainbows decided not to invite the musicians, because they greatly confused the music. And after recording the album, the band broke up. After Band of Gypsys, Hendrix formed a new band with Mitch and Cox and spent the last months of his career with them.

How did the idea to create a 4-disc concert album come about and what does that ill-fated contract with the studio have to do with it

Band of Gypsys
Band of Gypsys

In December 1969 Hendrix's new band was scheduled to release a new album. You already know that Hendricks foolishly signed the contract that he was receiving from 1 dollar. Legal proceedings have begun: Jimi wanted to cancel his contract, but they wouldn't let him. The label was absolutely against it, and to resolve the situation, the musician, who simply did not know what to do, agreed to record an album for them. This album became Band of Gypsys.

Band of Gypsys album
Band of Gypsys album

Some might be confused by the album's title: it's actually a tribute to the jazz guitarist To Django Reinhardtwho was a gypsy. By the way, his nickname, Django, translates from Gypsy as "I woke up".

Django Reinhardt
Django Reinhardt

Performances with the album Band of Gypsys took place in 1969 and in 1970's. Hendrix's band performed on December 31 and January 1. Initially, it was planned to arrange one, well, a maximum of two concerts. But the tickets were selling out at such a rate that the band decided to give four performances in two days.

Band of Gypsys decided to record all four performances, choose the best performances of songs, and assemble an album from them. This album was released in 1970, and in 2019 a concert album consisting of all the recordings from those concerts was released!

The huge concert album was unique: the songs sounded different every time. And on the last discs, the musicians were very tired, often the songs lasted longer than they should, the sound was distorted due to out-of-tune guitars, and some melodies were distorted. improvisationand yet-it was pure magic.

At the concert, the band performed new material mixed with already well-known hits – they also got on Songs for Groovy Children: The Fillmore East Concerts. And those fans who heard it all live couldn't understand what was going on. The sound of the new album was very different from what it was before. And it didn't look like a New Year's tale. Although even now that performance seems somewhat unreal.

Special features of performances included in the concert hall: 2 crazy nights and 4 concerts

Tired Hendricks at Fillmore
Tired Hendricks at Fillmore

A series of 4 New Year's concerts in Fillmore East It's notable for showing what Hendrix is capable of at his peak. During the first concert, he was fresh and upbeat, and by the end of the third, he was exhausted. He didn't have much time to rest – just a few hours and he had to prepare for the next concert.

All songs from the Band of Gypsys album that were supposed to be played by musicians, never before not released on studio sites. Those people who came to the concert were lucky, they were among the first to hear the apotheosis of the work of Hendrix and his musical team. And played by them "Message to Love"and "Power of Soul"in general, they were released only on posthumous albums.

But Hendricks understood that the album, which at that time consisted of 6 tracks, not enough for the whole performance. So Buddy Miles offered him his song "We Gotta Live TogetherThey cut it in half and added a guitar riff from" Sing a Simple Song " by Sly & the Family Stone.

To ensure that the material was definitely enough, Hendrix also took proven hits from the Experience era:"Wild Thing», «Hey Joe», «Purple Haze», «Voodoo Child», «Foxy Lady», «Fire"and "Stone Free", completely filling out the concert program with them.

He was on the edge, but he managed to play all four concerts brilliantly. Brilliant in the literal sense – the musician just shone because of the sweat. At the end of the fourth performance, Hendricks was so exhausted that he said::

"Right now we're trying to figure out what we can play, but so far we only know six songs... seven... nine."

It looked like he was remembering music as he walked. And then he started playing "Voodoo Child"…

What is Fillmore East and what happened to it after the Hendrix concert

The Fillmore East
The Fillmore East

Fillmore East it was a popular place in 1968-1971. During this time, many epoch-making concerts took place there: Band of Gypsys, Cream, The Kinks, Tina Turner. John Lennon and his companion Yoko Ono even went there. The famous virtuoso musician Frank Zappa also visited this place.

In fact, Fillmore East was a musical theater. rock club. This place was even called the "church of rock and roll". Although the building itself hardly resembled a church. Unfortunately, Fillmore East closed. Such a place for rock concerts turned out to be unclaimed – in the 70s, rock was played mainly on street stages…

Why Band of Gypsys and Songs for Groovy Children: The Fillmore East Concerts are the Best things Hendrix has Done

Jimi Hendrix
Jimi Hendrix

The album, released back in the 70s, still influences guitarists who play rock, jazz, blues, folk, pop – in general, for all guitarists. When the album was first released, it immediately hit the top 5 in many countries. Records were sold out of stores, and Band of Gypsys was Hendrix's most popular album.

Not surprisingly, the same Band of Gypsys, but expanded already by 41 positions, has become even more popular. We are talking about Songs for Groovy Children: The Fillmore East Concerts. There were only six new tracks on the ' 70s album. And in the album of 2019 – about 50 musical positions. Yes, some songs are often repeated, but the performance was not repeated not once. Each time the songs sound different: both fatigue and the fact that the instruments were upset, and the songs and melodies fell out of the musicians ' memory after 3 concerts, played a role in the uniqueness.

Band of Gypsys
Band of Gypsys

Some of the songs were clean improvisation – and it's just gorgeous." The way the musicians played together, the way they felt each other playing – the highest level of music. If one person made a mistake, the others adjusted and a new sound came out, new melodyno one understood anything, but everyone liked it! A real musical epic. It is unlikely that anyone else would be capable of such a set of four performances…

During the concert, Hendrix was at the peak of his musical form and fame, he made something that you can listen to forever. However, some do. After death the musician released several albums consisting purely of what the musicians played in Fillmore East.

Jimi Hendrix Live At The Fillmore East
Jimi Hendrix Live At The Fillmore East

In 1999, an album was even released Live at the Fillmore East, however, it did not contain even half of what made it to Songs for Groovy Children: The Fillmore East Concerts. Mixing and processing almost 50 songs was not an easy task, so the full collection was released only recently. 20 years later, in 2019.

Tracks from the live album Songs for Groovy Children: The Fillmore East Concerts

In Band of Gypsys there were only 6 tracks, but in just 2 days the musicians played their songs. 47 times! Moreover, some songs they stretched to 10 or even 15 minutes! In terms of duration, this is one of the biggest concert halls in principle – it got almost 5 hours unique music by Hendrix, Cox and Miles.

Band of Gypsys
Band of Gypsys

The tracks that Hendrix did not perform before the concert were strikingly different from his previous works. Because of such experiments, the following information was released: iconic piece. We will provide you with a complete list of songs performed:

December 31, 1969 (First set of Fillmore East)

  1. «Power Of Soul»
  2. «Lover Man»
  3. «Hear My Train A-Coming»
  4. «Them Changes» «Izabella»
  5. «Machine Gun»
  6. «Stop»
  7. «Ezy Ryder»
  8. «Bleeding Heart»
  9. «Earth Blues»
  10. «Burning Desire»

December 31, 1969 (Second Set of Fillmore East)

  1. «Auld Lang Syne»
  2. «Who Knows»
  3. «Stepping Stone»
  4. «Burning Desire»
  5. «Fire»
  6. «Ezy Ryder»
  7. «Machine Gun»
  8. «Power Of Soul»
  9. «Stone Free / Nutcracker Suite / Drum Solo / Outside Woman Blues / Cherokee Mist / Sunshine Of Your Love»
  10. «Them Changes»
  11. «Message To Love»
  12. «Stop» «Foxy Lady»
  13. «Voodoo Chile (Slight Return)»
  14. «Purple Haze»

January 1, 1970 (Third Set of Fillmore East)

  1. «Who Knows"(featured on the Band of Gypsys album)
  2. «Machine Gun"(featured on the Band of Gypsys album)
  3. «Them Changes»
  4. «Power of Soul»
  5. «Stepping Stone»
  6. «Foxy Lady»
  7. «Stop»
  8. «Hear My Train A-Comin»
  9. «Earth Blues»
  10. «Burning Desire»

January 1, 1970 (Fourth Set of Fillmore East)

  1. «Stone Free/Little Drummer Boy»
  2. «Them Changes"(featured on the Band of Gypsys album)
  3. «Power of Soul"(featured on the Band of Gypsys album)
  4. «Message to Love"(featured on the Band of Gypsys album)
  5. «Earth Blues»
  6. «Machine Gun»
  7. «Voodoo Child (Slight Return)»
  8. «We Gotta Live Together"(featured on the Band of Gypsys album)
  9. «Wild Thing»
  10. «Hey Joe»
  11. «Purple Haze»

You can listen to the album's tracks on almost all popular music platforms. Although the studio album was released relatively recently, in 2019, it has already become very popular. You can even say – cult…

Critical reviews and memories of the Fillmore East performance

No self-respecting critic gave the album a score below 8. On average, this was or 10, either 9.5. Everyone recognized that this is one of the best compilations of all time, a real musical breakthrough for the 70s. In his experiments as part of the Experience, Hendrix was already 10 years ahead of the rest of the music world. After performing at Fillmore East, the gap widened even further 15 years old

This is confirmed by the fact that the album released in 2019 has an average rating of 9 out of 10. For a rock album of the 70s (you can even say 60s) - this is very unusual... The Arts Desk in general, we gave the album the highest possible rating!

It's well deserved: those performances had and still have a huge impact on musicians around the world. And then there were those two nights set the bar not just to Hendricks himself, but to everyone else. It's just a pity that the musician didn't have time to jump even higher. What would rock music be like now, if he lived at least another 10 years! By the way, here's what I said Buddy Miles about the 2019 album:

And all that remains for listeners now – enjoy what Jimi had already done. It is unlikely that Hendricks himself ever wanted someone to be sad because of his work in 50 years. In such situations, the wisdom of the writer Gabriel Garcia Marquez helps:

"Don't cry because it's over. Smile, because that was..."

Shortly after the legendary performance came out documentary consisting of recordings of Hendrix's Fillmore performances. The film was also named "Band of Gypsys", as well as the band and album…

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