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Tracking Down The Wolf


Experiencing Jimi Hendrix live!

I was there.

           The venue was the newly constructed Spectrum Sports Area in Philadelphia PA. On April 12, 1969, The Jimi Hendrix Experience performed an 8:00 PM show with support from Noel Redding's band, Fat Mattress. More than 14,000 people attended. The Experience's set included: Fire, Red House, Foxey Lady, I Don't Live Today, Hear My Train A Comin’, Stone Free, Star Spangled Banner, Purple Haze, and Voodoo Child (Slight Return).
           Jimi and band were set up on a rotating stage in the middle of the indoor basketball arena. The sound system consisted of four Sunn coliseum PA columns. Jimi was plugged into three Marshall stacks, though only two where on. Noel Redding had Sunn cabs and heads stacked haphazardly behind him for his bass rig. They played to a non stop screaming riot of fans. All the hits. I clearly remember how he had the knack of speaking to the crowd and having it sound like he was addressing each one personally. And his stage banter was just hip talk BS nonsense, but when he said it, it sounded so damn cool. This was my first brush with powerful personal charisma. Man, did he have It. At one point, Jimi did a mind blowing shoulder roll across the front of the stage in the middle of a guitar solo. He landed back up on his feet and never missing a lick. He was a showman like no other. You couldn’t take your eyes off him for a second.
           At the end of the show, the Philly police formed a cordon between the front of the stage and the locker rooms that served as the bands dressing rooms. Jimi was bounced back and forth in this gauntlet like a rag doll. Everyone in the crowd was trying to reach out to him and touch him. I happened to be right above the entrance to the locker rooms on the second tier and made eye contact with him as he was swept by. He looked up at me, shrugged his shoulders and rolled his eyes. He looked utterly exhausted; thin and frail. A year and a half later he was dead.
           Thinking about this show now, my takeaway is this: can you imaging an artist of Jimi's talent and stature being treated so cavalierly today? The world certainly has turned since Jimi left us.
           Years later, in Frankfurt Germany, I got the chance to thank Noel for giving me such a life altering show. He was so gracious. Wish I could have done the same with Jimi and Mitch.