Thursday, September 24, 2009

1969/04/18 - North Hall, Ellis Auditorium Amphitheatre, Memphis, TN - The Jimi Hendrix Experience

2nd Show Set List

I Don't Live Today
Hear My Train A Comin'
Sunshine Of Your Love#
Stone Free#
Foxy Lady
Star Spangled Banner
Purple Haze
Voodoo Child (slight return)

The following was included with the audio derived recording from the second performance in Memphis 1969:

Gary Serkin recorded this performance on a portable cassette recorder, one of the first on the market. He and friends drove from Nashville to see this show, and waited in line for a while as the first show of the night went longer than expected. Gary says at one point he left his cassette recorder on a railing while waiting in line to enter, and only remembered it right as his group got close to the entrance, when he rapidly sprinted back and luckily found it right where he had left it. They sat in row six in the middle. Gary is one of Jimi's fans from way way back - he claims to have seen "Shotgun" on Night Train when it aired in Nashville in 1965, and he swears the weirdo guitar player in the background was all he could watch. He had all the albums and knew that a Jimi Hendrix concert was not something for which he would need to open the microphones up all the way for, which avoids the overdriven sound often found on close-up Jimi audience tapes. That's Gary you hear talking from time to time in the show - hey, he was a teenager and had no idea this recording would be circulating worldwide for decades to come. He's the one who says "He cut off all his hair" and requests "Crosstown Traffic". His friend from high school is the other loud mouth who cuts in from time to time. Gary said at one point during I Don't Live Today (sounds like about 3:00 in) Jimi took his guitar and held it by the neck in his right hand and just waved it around the stage, swooping and diving, all the while making those wonderful sounds. The audience went crazy. Gary also says later on that he had to flip the tape, so after Sunshine Of Your Love he stopped and since it was quiet he decided to see how the recording was going, so he hit rewind for a second then turned up the volume and hit play... but he was unprepared for just how loud it would be, so right from the sixth row after SOYL the whole crowd around him, and who knows maybe even Jimi, could hear a half-second of the end of it play back again! Whoops!! But all went well and the tape survives. Gary said he didn't make himself a personal backup tape until 1980 or so, but he played the master regularly and would spin copies for anyone who asked, which got to be quite a few people. So the master tape got quite a bit of use.

From Just Ask The Axis

From Chris Dixon's 30th Anniversary Series © C S Dixon
18 April 1999 marks 30 years since the 1969 Experience show at Ellis Auditorium Amphitheater in Memphis, Tennessee, the 3rd date of the Exp's last tour. There were two shows this night with the second surviving on tape. The tape sounds somewhat distant but has a fairly good balance with voice and guitar loudest and drums on the low side (pics show Mitch returning to his black Ludwig kit after a 'fling' with a flashy gold sparkle kit in Philly). Tape features quite a bit of nearby audience chatter, but I just call that 'audio verite'. One voice early on is heard to exclaim "...he cut off all his hair!..". Not quite true (paints a picture though, eh?) but Jimi's hair was considerably shorter around this time. Apparently the band were quite late for the shows. The local paper gave a less than glowing review but our standards are a little different so let's have a look...

(Setlist) Fire; I Don't Live Today; Hear My Train; Sunshine of Your Love; Stone Free; Foxy Lady; Star Spangled Banner; Purple Haze; Voodoo Child (SR)

'IDLT' gets a very short first solo but a slightly extended feedback interlude before the final 'speed up' section. Jimi breaks it down to some muted strumming and around 6:00 then builds back up for some more soloing. After the song, we hear someone yell "Turn that damn git-tar DOWN!" with the exact same inflection as Jimi's overdubbed aside on ELL's 'Voodoo Chile' jam!

Jimi's spoken intro to 'Hear My Train' is interspersed with some nice off-the-cuff riffs. One of the earliest examples of Jimi singing "Well, I hear my train a coming..." at the very beginning of the song. After a particularly fast line in the first solo you hear someone break out laughing....hey, I know the feeling! The long first solo breaks down around 5:30 and we get some nice guitar/voice unison 'scatting'. Near the end he repeats the title vocal line more times than usual, finally substituting the words "I hear my freedom coming", a line familiar from a jam of the same name from the TTG sessions.

Jimi starts the 'SOYL' solo by imitating Clapton's original but Noel doesn't go to the '4' chord so Jimi pulls back to some muted strumming and we get a bass solo, then the by-now familiar build up. During the final verse the tape fades out....

...and fades in on the opening verse of 'Stone Free'! Anyone's guess as to what's missing between the two. Probably not too much as the tape is about right for a complete concert (Unless it's missing from the tape, this is a rare night with no 'Red House'). Anyway, SF extremely short this night after the 10+ minute version from the previous show (only a couple of minutes though, again, the opening is missing). Relatively seldom performed, we only have 3 more documented Experience versions after this.

In the lull before 'SSB' we hear a voice call for 'Crosstown Traffic' (wishful thinking - sadly, he never played it live). Jimi pumps the wah steadily early in SSB, sounding almost like the pulsing Univibe on the familiar Woodstock version. He plays the "...rockets red glare, bombs bursting through air..." line then starts the "Gave truth through the night..." line but, realizing he's forgotten to do the 'bombs bursting' sound effects, he goes back for a bit of same before starting over on the "Gave truth.." line!

VC(SR) now firmly established as a set closer, as it (or, occasionally, Purple Haze) will close virtually every show from here on out. A unique 'hammer on' riff near the end and finishes it off with a little dental work!


  1. Gary is a close friend. There is also some film footage from this show on YouTube.

    At the end of it, you can see the shadow of someone move over from the right side of the screen and take a flash photo at the 2:41 mark. That is the photo posted above. And the person who took that is Gary Serkin.

    Gary went on to play with Billy Cox for 20 years in the 80s, 90s and beyond, and has also played with Buddy Miles and Mitch Mitchell.

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