Home Read News Hendrix Hollywood Bowl Set Surfaces After 56 Years

Hendrix Hollywood Bowl Set Surfaces After 56 Years

The 10-track performance remains one of the guitar hero's few unbootlegged sets.


More than half a century after it was recorded, Jimi Hendrix and his legendary band’s historic and pivotal L.A. performance from 1967 is finally seeing the light of day. Jimi Hendrix Experience: Hollywood Bowl August 18, 1967 arrives  Nov. 10 on vinyl, CD and all digital platforms.

This live concert performance, captured just five days before the U.S. release of Are You Experienced, their album debut, is notable for being one of the last times the band performed in front of an audience as relative unknowns. Although Hendrix had established a U.K. base and stormed Europe over the previous 10 months, the vast majority of the 17,000-plus Los Angeles concertgoers were there to see headliners The Mamas & The Papas, and were caught offguard by Hendrix’s electrifying musicality and showmanship. Finally, the set can be enjoyed by the rest of the world for the first time ever; amazingly, not a single second of this unique, two-track live recording has ever been released before in any capacity, either via official channels or elsewise.

After the Seattle-born Hendrix moved to London in September 1966, the Experience was formed with a British rhythm section consisting of drummer Mitch Mitchell and bassist Noel Redding. The new band promptly enjoyed commercial success in the form of three top 10 singles and a string of performances that overwhelmed audiences and won praise from the likes of Paul McCartney, Eric Clapton and Jeff Beck. Word of these achievements reached Reprise Records chief Mo Ostin and a U.S. deal for Hendrix was confirmed in March 1967. Two months later, at the urging of McCartney, The Jimi Hendrix Experience made their triumphant U.S. debut at the Monterey International Pop Festival in June.

However, the immediate prosperity the band enjoyed in the U.K. was not replicated stateside. Their first two U.S. singles were flops — Hey Joe didn’t chart at all, Purple Haze only reached No. 65 — and Are You Experienced wouldn’t be released domestically until late August. In their attempt to crack America, the Experience did a five-show stint at the Fillmore in San Francisco, followed by a U.S. tour opening for The Monkees that only lasted nine dates before Hendrix dropped off due to unappreciative teenybopper audiences who were strictly there to see the headliner. In a scramble to book dates after this debacle, John Phillips of The Mamas & The Papas, who co-produced the Monterey Pop Festival, invited the Experience to open for his group at the Hollywood Bowl on Aug. 18.

Monterey Pop To The Hollywood Bowl is a new mini-documentary which details Hendrix’s tumultuous journey upon his return to the U.S. 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.

The Jimi Hendrix Experience blazed through originals such as Purple Haze, The Wind Cries Mary, and yet-to-be-released classics Foxey Lady and Fire, as well as their own re-imagining of favorites by The Beatles (Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band), Howlin’ Wolf (Killing Floor), Bob Dylan (Like A Rolling Stone), The Troggs (Wild Thing) and Muddy Waters (Catfish Blues). The majority of the crowd had purchased tickets months in advance to see The Mamas & The Papas and were wholly unfamiliar with the jarringly different Jimi Hendrix Experience. The aforementioned Ray, longtime guitarist for McCartney and Etta James, was among audience members transfixed by what they witnessed.

“The audience was there to see The Mamas & The Papas,” he recalls. “They haven’t heard of Jimi Hendrix. I’d never heard of Jimi Hendrix, and he couldn’t be more opposite of The Mamas & The Papas as an act, culturally, physically, in every possible way he was the opposite. Here comes this guy 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 so 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… to me was mindblowing. It was sort of every human characteristic; it was beauty, grace, it was sexual, violent, gentle, it was just everything all at once in one band coming out of this one guy. I wouldn’t say that the audience response was quite the same as the response I was having. My sister and I were going bananas, and the audience was like (soft clapping) and they were trying to figure it out.”

However bewildered the audience may have been, their brief tenure opening for The Monkees had hardened the group, and they leaned into their repertoire with ferocity.

Michelle Phillips, the only surviving member of The Mamas & The Papas, first saw the Experience at the Monterey Pop Festival. “We had never heard of him,” Phillips 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. He was pouring lighter fluid over his guitar and then setting it on fire and — I really was shocked. I had no experience with this kind of rock ’n’ roll theatre. And that was the first time I had ever seen it.”

Backstage at the Hollywood Bowl weeks later, Phillips was won over by Hendrix. “I absolutely loved him,” recalls Phillips in the liner notes for Hollywood Bowl August 18, 1967, penned by Jeff Slate. “He was a gentleman, he was lovely, he was funny.” She softened her view of “rock ’n’ roll theatre,” which was somewhat antithetical to the more stayed and pitch-perfect folk tradition from which her group emerged. This very concert wound up being The Mamas & The Papas’ last, while the Experience’s star was rising; they would return to the Bowl the following year as headliners. Phillips remembers, “In a couple of days or months, Jimi Hendrix was the hottest thing happening.”

Eddie Kramer, Hendrix’s longstanding recording engineer, recently restored the audio, and Grammy winner Bernie Grundman served as mastering engineer. Jimi Hendrix Experience: Hollywood Bowl August 18, 1967 will included previously unseen photos by Ed Caraeff, Henry Diltz and Allen Daviau from that night. These include performance shots as well as candid backstage images of bandmembers co-mingling with The Mamas & The Papas, scene maker Rodney Bingenheimer and manager Chas Chandler.”

Jimi Hendrix Experience: Hollywood Bowl August 18, 1967 Track List:

Side One
Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band
Killing Floor
The Wind Cries Mary
Foxey Lady
Catfish Blues

Side Two
Like a Rolling Stone
Purple Haze
Wild Thing

Previous articleClassic Album Review: Nickelback | The Long Road
Next articleClassic Album Review: David Bowie | Reality