By Mike O’Cull
The new Jimi Hendrix Experience archival live album Jimi Hendrix Experience Los Angeles Forum: April 26, 1969 is a stunning document of one of history’s greatest guitarists and a solid reminder of why Hendrix will always matter.
The set was released by Experience Hendrix, L.L.C. and Legacy Recordings, a division of Sony Music Entertainment. It’s available as a 2LP vinyl, a CD, and is on all digital platforms. Janie Hendrix, CEO of Experience Hendrix, L.L.C. and the sister of Jimi Hendrix, longtime Hendrix producer/engineer Eddie Kramer, and John McDermott, who manages the Hendrix music catalog on behalf of Experience Hendrix, produced the project and did a wonderful, respectful job of bringing this amazing concert recording to the world.
Also included in the package are liner notes by former LA Times staff writer/critic Randy Lewis and a preface by ZZ Top’s Billy Gibbons, who was at the show that night. Gibbons had toured with the Experience, as part of the Moving Sidewalks, his pre-Top band.
It all went down in the Spring of ‘69 in front of a wild, capacity crowd at the recently-opened Los Angeles Forum in Inglewood, California. The venue began hosting sports and music events in 1967 and 1968 and, by the time Hendrix arrived, Aretha Franklin, Cream, and Deep Purple had already graced its stage. The Hendrix concert also featured opening acts Chicago Transit Authority, soon to be renamed Chicago, and Cat Mother & The All Night Newsboys. Main floor tickets cost $6.50.
This particular performance of the original Experience lineup of singer/guitarist Jimi Hendrix, drummer Mitch Mitchell, and bassist Noel Redding has never been issued in its complete form before and Jimi Hendrix Experience Los Angeles Forum: April 26, 1969 sets that criminal fact right. Simply put, shows like this are one of the reasons we’re still listening to Jimi today and why all rock guitarists who came after are still in his shadow.
From the moment Jimi starts playing after being introduced and indulging in a bit of chatter with the audience, we are treated to the Hendrix legend in full bloom. It’s the tone, the licks, the energy, the unprecedented passion, and the fully-realized musical identity that changed our part of the world. This is the real, mind-blowing Hendrix that left Clapton and the other British guitarists traumatized when he touched down in London a few years earlier. Now firmly established as a star, Jimi was at the peak of his powers, playing music no one else of his era could have generated.
He opens the gig with an instrumental cover called “Tax Free” by Swedish duo Hansson & Karlsson and immediately bends their tune out of shape. His wah-inflected lead lines are hypnotic and serve as the basis for better than 15 minutes of glorious improvisation. Hendrix ebbs and flows dynamically, taking the band from chilled-out grooves to all-out frenzy. Need to explain Jimi to someone in a single song? This one will work nicely.
The whole show is one long peak moment broken into chapters. “Foxey Lady” is ferocious and “Red House” is Jimi’s blues playing at its best. We also get an early take on “The Star Spangled Banner,” which would become a permanent part of the Hendrix legacy a few months later at Woodstock. “Here’s a song we was all brainwashed with,” he says before it, which were divisive words to many in the political climate of the day.
The gig also features “Purple Haze,” “I Don’t Live Today,” “Voodoo Child,” and a cover of Cream’s “Sunshine Of Your Love.” Jimi rages through it all, dropping genius ideas, sounds, and attitude as he goes. By the end of the record, you’re left exhausted, fulfilled, and better educated as to what rock and roll is all about. Jimi Hendrix Experience Los Angeles Forum: April 26, 1969 is destined to become one of rock’s most inspiring live albums and brings the power of Jimi Hendrix in full flight right into your headphones. Life doesn’t get any better than that.
Order link Jimi Hendrix Experience Los Angeles Forum April 26, 1969 Here
“Jimi Hendrix Experience-I Don’t Live Today (Live at Los Angeles Forum 4.26.1969)