In the internet age, it's a rare thing to stumble upon a Jimi Hendrix recording that has managed to evade both official releases and the clutches of bootleggers. But this recording did just that, and now it’s a remarkable time capsule which captures the Jimi Hendrix Experience at a pivotal moment in their early stages.
Before a large audience of 17,000 who didn’t quite yet know what they were experiencing, Jimi Henrix and band delivered a show for the ages, leaving an unsuspecting crowd utterly spellbound. Their setlist was something to behold, spanning genres and influences, from the Beatles to Bob Dylan, Howlin' Wolf to Muddy Waters. Hidden among the covers, they unleashed their own signature hits, including the mind bending "Purple Haze" and the soul stirring "The Wind Cries Mary." What makes this performance even more remarkable is the context in which it unfolded. At this moment in time, the Experience's debut album, Are You Experienced, had yet to hit record store shelves. This concert was captured just five days before the album's U.S. release. It marked one of the last instances where the band played in front of an audience as relative unknowns, poised on the precipice of fame.
The majority of the 17,000-plus concertgoers in Los Angeles that night had eagerly purchased tickets to witness headliners the Mamas & the Papas. Hendrix and his band of gypsies took them by surprise with their electrifying sound and showmanship. Remarkably, not a single second of this two-track live recording has ever seen the light of day, be it through official channels or otherwise.
The Experience's quest to conquer the American stage had seen them embark on a five-show stint at San Francisco's Fillmore, followed by a nine-date tour opening for the Monkees. However, their shows with the teenybopper-friendly headliners were abruptly halted, as unappreciative audiences were solely fixated on Davy Jones and company. In the scramble to secure new dates, the band received a lifeline from none other than John Phillips of the Mamas & the Papas, who invited them to open for his group at the Hollywood Bowl on that fateful August night in 1967. The audience, who gathered to enjoy the sunshine pop of the headliners, found themselves plunged into the electrifying world of Jimi Hendrix.
With the live recording discovered, the Experience Hendrix team, led by Janie Hendrix, John McDermott, and Eddie Kramer, took to the restoration of the audio, and Bernie Grundman lent his mastering expertise to bring the sonic quality to its full glory. This special release of Jimi Hendrix Experience: Hollywood Bowl August 18, 1967 is available on CD and as audiophile-grade, individually numbered 150-gram vinyl. It comes complete with previously unseen photos captured by photographers Ed Caraeff, Henry Diltz, and Allen Daviau. These images not only document the performance, but also provide candid glimpses of the band members mingling with the Mamas & the Papas, scene maker Rodney Bingenheimer, and their manager Chas Chandler.