Jimi Hendrix at Woodstock 1969

In 1969 at  Woodstock music festival, an unlikely event happened.   Jimi Hendrix reinvented it from top to bottom to showcase the sound possible made by extreme high-volume electric guitar.  His riffs are interpreted as weapons exploding and bombs being dropped from planes high in the sky.

Who was Jimi Hendrix?  He was a poor boy from Seattle who loved the guitar. His outrageous electric guitar thrilled listeners then and today with his playing skills and experimental sound.  He was the closing act for the Woodstock weekend in August and many people had left the concert and the mud drenched field. But Jimi was still there and halfway through his two hour set, he played “The Star Spangled Banner.” ( He often played the  Star Spangled Banner in his concert sets.) It has become and will always be the pivotal moment of the concert.  Hendrix was a hugely talented musician whose life was a mess. Does that sound familiar?   After Woodstock, he was broiled in controversy and law suits for the last year of his life.  This was his seminal moment on the world’s stage. There are rumors that he shot up heroin directly into his skull for a immediate hit.  He died of drug complications at the age of 27 in 1970.  Yes, he joined Janis Joplin  as a member of the infamous “27 Club.”

Dick Cavett, the late night TV host, asked him about his rendition of the National Anthem shortly afterward. As you can imagine, it was controversial. “Were  you trying to be blasphemous or  disrespectful ?” Cavett asked.

Jimi, a fervent protester against  the Viet Nam war, simply replied, ” I am an American.  I thought it was beautiful.”

 Text from Rolling Stone  and Martin Johnson for The Root  (08/14/09/

What are your thoughts about this post and Jimi Hendrix?  If you like it , listen to Purple Haze.  I don’t care for it as much. 

Purple Haze:

About annetbell

I am a retired elementary teacher, well seasoned world traveler,new blogger, grandmother, and a new enthusiastic discoverer of the wonderfully complex country of India. Anne
This entry was posted in Uncategorized, USA and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

20 Responses to Jimi Hendrix at Woodstock 1969

  1. YellowCable says:

    His “The Star Spangled Banner” is Awesome! Happy 4th to you!

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  2. Happy 4th July my teacher xx

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  3. Elsewhere it would have been blasphemy and he would have been tried.But America being what it was ( and is ), this disfiguring of the national song is taken tolerated. That, i believe, is the spirit of freedom that America symbolizes.Happy Birthday, America.

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    • annetbell says:

      It is thrilling that you all the way around the world have a clear understanding if this experiment called America. In the 1980s, we had an African student at our home. Someone came on the TV berating President Reagan and calling him a liar. Our African friend turned pale and said in his country that man expressing that opinion, would be killed on the spot, but not in America!
      Blessings of freedom! .

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      • This is a connected world, isn’t it ? Especially after the Indian economy was opened up ( when I graduated), the world became a global village. And America and Japan became my second and third homes respectively. The world of IT and the tight coupling that we have in terms of economy that makes Singapore catch cold when America sneezes have ensured that one country knows everything about another.
        In my case, I have been following the lives of many American presidents of the past. Recently, as late of April of this year, when I had to visit NY on business, I made it a point to visit the New York Museum of Natural History and later the other sites in NY like 9/11 memorial and the like.
        America is indeed a great country due to its insistence on freedom and personal liberties ( one that is emulated by other countries in different measures). Note: I visit the US regularly on business and am updated on the events there.

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      • annetbell says:

        Yes, it is amazing. After we were in Egypt and so kindly and warmly treated, I befriended some Pakistani students at husband’s University to repay the kindness. Still hear from one of them and he calls me “Mom!” I was totally blown away at how much they knew about American history and I knew little or nothing about theirs, though I do know more now!

        I am a huge fan of Mr. Modi as we were living in Gujarat. I have many posts on him and many Indian comments , if you are interested. I just read that he is partnering with Singapore to build some smart cites in India. Do you know about that? I assume it is digital this and that. Can you explain it to me? Abridged answer is fine!

        All I know about Singapore, where I have not visited, is Singapore Math which seems to be very good teaching tool and shopping. . . . pitiful

        Smiles, Anne

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      • Oh sure. Modi has built a ‘Financial City’ in Gujarat. Many banks have invested in that, my employer being one. Would be operational in a short time I believe. The plan is to built a Financial Hub like NY, London, HK and SG. And that would be a ‘SMART City’ – with all amenities close-by, electronics infused in all aspects from lighting to access controls to telecom to software where people would live and work.

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      • annetbell says:

        Is it Ahmadabad? That is where we were for the majority of our time in India or somewhere else in India?

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  4. gpcox says:

    To me it an anthem – not a song to be altered to anyone’s “style” – no – don’t like it.

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    • annetbell says:

      Thank you so much for the comment. For a long time, I would have agreed with you. It is just not to long ago, that I began to see that Hendrix’ right to do and play his version, was one of the wonderful rights we have in this country. As far as I am concerned , it was not performed in a disrespectful way, not like some rock star singers, I have seen. And I of course respect your opinion! Have you seen the John Adams miniseries? Marvelous!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. allenspect says:

    Personally, I don’t know much about Hendrix’s political views (except that he was praising love and pacifism), but when a musician makes their country’s anthem into a rock/pop song, for me it symbolizes the highest form of patriotism. A great song!

    I currently live in Canada (Vancouver) and have found the photos of a Jimi Hendrix Shrine on this website. It turns out that our ‘poor boy from Seattle’ had his grandma just several streets from where I live. (Imagine how surprised I was!)
    She owned a steakhouse which was apparently visited by musicians such as Louis Armstrong when they were in Vancouver. Little Jimi used to spend his summers there; and this place was later turned into the Shrine, which is now a tourist attraction.

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    • annetbell says:

      Oh this is wonderful ! It makes the teacher in me very proud that I sparked an interest and also encouraged you to do your own research. Thank you so much for taking the time to let me know this. I enjoyed the article and the pictures! I have really never been much of a Hendrix fan, but for some reason, I couldn’t get him out of my mind this year. This is America with freedom of speech , after all! Glad you are discovering the 60s. Quite a time, I can tell you !

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  6. annetbell says:

    Reblogged this on TalesAlongTheWay and commented:

    I didn’t get this reblogged over the weekend, so here is my music Monday.

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  7. Don Ostertag says:

    When Hendrix defended his version of the National Anthem with the words, ‘I am American’, he had already served his country for a year as a paratrooper in the 101st Airborne, Fort Campbell Kentucky at a time when his color would not allow him access to the same places to eat or have a beer etc., off-post,, as white paratroopers could frequent. A part of America where the Confederated Flag was prominent and Old Glory was rare.
    The military said it would be better without Hendrix as a soldier and gave him an honorable discharge. I sincerely doubt if he was against the war in Viet Nam because he was a pacifist or he felt it was wrong to begin with; but more so, because it was being fought by America’s poor and minorities for the most part, the white upper crust watched thei war on TV.When he said, ‘I am American’, America was a far cry from all people being equal.
    I am not a big fan of his version, but then I am not a big fan of our choice of an anthem. I would much rather have a song that lauds our country’s beautiful land and people, rather than a so-so poem of a minor battle in a war our history books jump over, set to the music of an English drinking song, which is unsingable to most people and perhaps unplayable by some guitarists.

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  8. reocochran says:

    I like the songs of Jimi Hendrix and also, enjoy the fact he respected America. I am glad you wrote this post and included the text from “Rolling Stone” and Martin Johnson’s “The Root.” So many artists have sensitive and troubled lives, Annet. Thanks for this and hope you have a Star Spangled Day, whenever you read this!

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    • annetbell says:

      Hey thanks so much. I certainly agree that many artists be they musicians , painter or another art are sensitive and often misunderstood. I think they have special gifts that most people don’t have , like a second sight. Maybe it is their special talent that makes them misunderstood. Jimi Hendrix had a troubled life for sure with a tragic death. He has given pleasure through his music to people for years and years. Thanks for the chat!

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