Live at the Hollywood Bowl – August 18, 1967
November 10, 2023 – Live at the Hollywood Bowl August 18, 1967 to be released on CD, vinyl and digital formats.
This will certainly be an essential addition to any Hendrix collection as this early U.S. performance by the Jimi Hendrix Experience has never seen the light of day, either commercially or on any unauthorized bootleg.
At the same time, it will be interesting to hear how Eddie Kramer and Experience Hendrix have cleaned up the concert tape and made it representative of the band as Noel Redding had commented of the performance, “We died a death at the Hollywood Bowl,” and even Jimi commented on stage when they came out and were getting laughed at by the laid-back California folk crowd, “If you’re gong to laugh, at least laugh in key.”
As the new release is said to include the band’s introduction and as they break into the opening number “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band,” it will be interesting to see if those Hendrix comments are included in the release.
The complete set list includes “Killing Floor,” “The Wind Cries Mary,” “Foxey Lady,” “Catfish Blues,” “Fire,” Like a Rolling Stone,” “Purple Haze” and “Wild Thing.”
As a teaser to the release, Experience Hendrix offers up a sample of what we’ll hear with “Killing Floor” https://jimihendrix.lnk.to/HollywoodBowl1967PR
The performance comes only two months after the Experience’s explosive debut at the Monterey Pop Festival.
But, as noted in the press release for Live at the Hollywood Bowl, “the immediate prosperity the band enjoyed in the UK was not replicated stateside. Their first two US singles were flops – ‘Hey Joe’ didn’t chart at all and ‘Purple Haze’ only reached #65 – and Are You Experienced wouldn’t be released domestically until late August.”
After Monterey, the Experience had been vying for dates in the U.S. Bill Graham gave them a week at the Fillmore in San Francisco. Then they tagged in as an opening act for The Monkees, an abominable tour that was thankfully cut short as the Experience pulled out after just seven dates.
In a scramble to book dates after that debacle, John Phillips of the Mamas and The Papas, who co-produced the Monterey Pop Festival and having befriended the band, invited the Experience to open for them at the Hollywood Bowl on August 18 giving them the chance for exposure. The bill was also to include Electric Flag, but they cancelled with another California “Flowers in Your Hair” folk artist Scott McKenzie filling in.
The majority of the crowd had purchased tickets months in advance to see The Mamas and The Papas and were wholly unfamiliar with Hendrix, resulting in the audience laughing at the band’s appearance as they took the stage, and later booing during the show.
Guitarist Brian Ray, who’s worked with everyone from Paul McCartney to Etta James in his career, was in the audience. “The audience was there to see The Mamas and The Papas. They haven’t heard o Jimi Hendrix.” Even Ray at the time said, “I’d never heard of Jimi Hendrix, and he couldn’t be more opposite of The Mamas and The Papas as an act, culturally, physically, in every possible way he was the opposite.”
Continuing, “Here comes these guys and there’s only three of them on stage and they have these afros and these wild, ornate, very theatrical clothes. Jimi proceeds to shred, and it’s loud but it’s musical, and then it becomes physical. He starts playing the guitar under his leg, and now it’s behind his back, and now he’s playing it with his mouth, and now he’s on the ground on his knees and he’s like humping it, and it, to me was mind blowing.”
While Ray, as a guitarist, understood it, “I wouldn’t say the audience response was quite the same as the response I was having…the audience was like (soft clapping) and they were trying to figure it out.”
Paul Getchell was in the audience and recalls in an interview published in Eyewitness: The Jimi Hendrix Concerts 1967-1968, “Since the other better-known performers were in the folk/pop vein (The Mamas and The Papas, Scott McKenzie), there were a lot of people in the audience who were more into that bag and not into heavy psychedelic music. My recollection is that the Jimi Hendrix Experience reception was lukewarm at best. Some people actually booed; most simply sat around; not too many seemed to be getting into his trip.”
Still, there were those that did get it.
Michelle Phillips, the only surviving member of The Mamas and The Papas, first saw the Experience at Monterey. “We had never heard of him,” she remembers. “I had absolutely no idea what to expect. And when I saw him perform I was mortified. I had never seen anything like this, I’d never seen anybody treat their instruments like this.” Backstage at the Hollywood Bowl literally weeks later, Phillips was won over by Jimi Hendrix. “I absolutely loved him. He was a gentleman, he was lovely, he was funny.” In the release liner notes she softened her view of “rock and roll theatre” which was somewhat antithetical to the more stayed and pitch-perfect folk tradition of The Mamas and The Papas.
As a companion to this release, Monterey Pop To The Hollywood Bowl is a new mini-documentary which details Jimi Hendrix’s tumultuous journey upon his return to the US in June 1967, through August of that year. Featuring new interviews from The Mamas & The Papas vocalist Michelle Phillips, longtime Paul McCartney guitarist Brian Ray and others, the impact of Hendrix’s Hollywood Bowl performance by eye witnesses is discussed, and is placed in historic context. https://youtu.be/P-IRA5UrZ7g
Ironically, this date was the last performance of The Mamas and The Papas. And a year later the Jimi Hendrix Experience would return to the Hollywood Bowl as headliners.
You can listen to a sample of Hollywood Bowl release with “Killin’ Floor” and place a pre-order at https://jimihendrix.lnk.to/HollywoodBowl1967PR
(Article originally published by the Jimi Hendrix Information Management Institute www.facebook.com/groups/251427364936379/permalink/6617325905013128/)