Thursday, September 24, 2009

1969/06/20 - 1969/06/22 - Newport Pop Festival - The Jimi Hendrix Experience + Jam Ensemble

Friday, June 20, 1969

Albert King, Edwin Hawkins Singers, The Jimi Hendrix Experience, Joe Cocker, Southwind, Spirit and Taj Mahal.

Saturday, June 21, 1969

Albert Collins, Brenton Wood, Buffy Ste. Marie, Charity, Creedence Clearwater Revival, Eric Burdon, Friends of Distinction, Jethro Tull, Lee Michaels, Love, Steppenwolf and Sweetwater.

Sunday, June 22, 1969

Booker T & the MGs, Chambers Brothers, Flock, Grass Roots, Johnny Winter, Marvin Gaye, Mother Earth, Jimi Hendrix, Buddy Miles, Mother Earth, Eric Burdon (jam), Poco (formerly Pogo), The Byrds, The Rascals and Three Dog Night .

The following information below details Jimi Hendrix's two performances at what was to be the largest gathering of people for a music festival up until that point.

1969-06-20 (Friday): "Newport '69 Pop Festival", San Fernando Valley State College, Devonshire Downs, Northridge, CA

Set List:

Stone Free»drum solo»
Third Stone From The Sun»
Are You Experienced»
Stone Free « Don't Step On The Grass
Sunshine Of Your Love
Hear My Train A Comin'
Red House
Foxy Lady
Like A Rolling Stone
Voodoo Child (slight return)»drum solo»
Purple Haze

1969-06-22 (Sunday): "Newport '69 Pop Festival", San Fernando Valley State College, Devonshire Downs, Northridge, CA

Set List

Earth Versus Space«Keep On Groovin', Gypsy Eyes, Machine Gun
The Things That I Used To Do
The Sky Is Crying
We Gotta Live Together»
Feeling So Good
Power Of Soul«The Train Kept A Rollin, Earth Blues»
Hear My Train A Comin'»
Voodoo Child (slight return)»
Come On (Part I)»uptempo jam

Below are photos, links to video and soundboard/audience recordings from both performances Jimi gave at the Newport Pop Festival on the last leg of Jimi's 1969 spring tour:

1969-06-22 Newport 16MM DVD Upgrade

1969-06-20 Newport69 Vibratory Merge

ATM 032-034 Earth Vs. Space - Newport Pop - 1969-06-20.22

Jimi Hendrix ATM 113 Newport Revisited

From Just Ask The Axis

From Chris Dixon's 30th Anniversary Series © C S Dixon

22 June 1999 marks 30 years since Jimi's return to the Newport (Ca) Pop stage for an extended jam session with Buddy Miles and others (BTW, let the record show that although the 'Newport Pop Fest' designation for this event is the common one, the official name of the event was simply "Newport '69". Also, it should not be confused with the Newport, Rhode Island festival series).

Lore has it that Jimi, dis-satisfied with the Experience's uneven performance two days earlier, had returned feeling like he owed the crowd something. Though Jimi of course took part in innumerable club and studio jams, documented and not, this is a unique item in the Jimi archives in that it is a full length large scale concert set. Like most jams this session rambles a bit, but it contains some very interesting playing from Jimi IMO (not that he was ever exactly *un*interesting!).

In his usual 'stream-of-consciousness' jamming style, Jimi touches on a lot of themes, some from then-familiar songs and some forming kernels of songs which would appear more formally in the year to come.

The recording is similar to that of the Experience two days earlier in that it is from the festival's PA soundboard. Like the previous tape the vocals are loudest but the instruments can all be heard fairly well, though during the jams where there are a lot of musicians onstage inevitably some are lost in the mix. Jimi's sound is more clean and trebly here due to the fact he is playing through Fender Dual Showman amps and dual 15" JBL loaded speaker cabinets. This is likely due to the jam being hastily organized and Jimi's Marshalls being trucked toward the Denver gig later in the week. Possibly the Fenders were rented directly from the company since they were located near LA. The pics from this gig also show Jimi using a white Strat with a Telecaster neck. The circumstances of this combination are still a bit of a mystery as the only other documented uses are at the Newport gig June 20 and during a club jam around the same time in a shot recently unearthed by Univibes magazine (can be seen on their website). He may have used it at Denver Pop on June 26 though all the shots I've seen from Denver show the black Strat.

Anyway, generating a setlist for this is a tough one as there are so many bits and pieces of songs that weave in and out of the jams. I'm just going to give a running timeline as I noted them while listening. My timings are derived from the 'It Never Takes An End' boot CD (defunct Swingin' Pig label). There are some more complete (only slightly, in most cases) versions of these jams available on tape but I only have the CD so it'll have to do.....

The first jam opens with Jimi saying "...we're gonna forget about everything alive and dead and call it 'Earth Vs. Space'...". This jam has only Jimi, Buddy and bass (possibly Brad Campbell from Janis's band). Buddy sets up a fast groove vaguely reminiscent of Stone Free and the Astro Man Jam. Jimi starts ad-libbing lyrics, starting with the "keep on movin" theme we would later hear in 'Midnight Lightning'. At 4:32 we get a quick riff and a few lyrics from 'Gypsy Eyes'. At 5:02 the 'Midnight Lightning' lyrics re-appear with some vocal call-and-response between Buddy and Jimi, followed by some solo scat singing by Buddy at 6:45. At 7:20 Jimi touches on the 'Outside Woman Blues' riff then switches to a two chord riff, then says "I forgot the words, but there ain't no words. We're going to look around and make up some words"! After a couple of lines at 8:22 where he mentions "...going down to the Red House...", we get a few lines which would become familiar from 'Machine Gun' ("..tearin my body all apart..") but here making their first public appearance. At 11:00 he touches on the later-to-be 'Stepping Stone' chorus and finishes up with some more ad-libbed vocals centered around "...sometimes I wonder..." before the tape fades out.

Jimi introduces the old blues standard 'The Things I Used To Do', which had been the subject of a studio jam session with Jimi, Johnny Winter and Steven Stills the previous month. The band here is still just gtr/bass/drums. We hear Jimi answer a heckle or shouted request with "I wish I could" - wonder what the question was!? We hear the crowd yelling at one another to "Sit down!" but, unlike the Experience show, the distracted crowd doesn't seem to bother Jimi. The crowd noise in general comes and goes on this tape, at times so suddenly that it almost sounds dubbed in! The guitar's a bit distant as Jimi starts the tune, but gets louder and we hear some nice clean-toned blues playing from Jimi. He sings the first two verses with some nice fills but sadly the tape fades at just under 4 minutes just as Jimi's stepping on the gas for some heavier soloing. Ah well...

The tape fades back in on what appears to be the tail end of a different jam featuring a larger band including a female vocalist, possibly Tracy Nelson, and a flautist unknown. Buddy does some introductory vocalizing, joined by harpist Lee Oskar, who will remain throughout. At 2:20 Jimi starts a slightly slower 'Message Of Love' riff, only the 3rd public appearance of same (it's next would be as a song proper at Woodstock). At 3:20 the aforementioned female vocalist starts singing parts of 'The Train Kept A Rollin' as Jimi switches to the 'Power of Soul' riff, a first public appearance for that and our first example of him playing it with Buddy (though they had jammed before this). At 4:23 Jimi plays a line similar to Cream's 'I Feel Free' and we get some sudden audience cheering, reason not clear. Jimi sings some of the PoS words, then touches on the lyrics from the track called 'Somewhere', also to be used in 'Earth Blues'. Around now we hear the flute and a sax, possibly two (at least three sax players have been cited, most oft-mentioned being 'Snooky' Flowers). At 9:25 Jimi touches on the main riff from VC(SR) but veers into the lyrics from 'Hear My Train'. The band stays on the root chord during the chorus since they don't know the arrangement (same thing will happen with the house band on the Cavett show the following month). At 12:15 Jimi goes into the VC(SR) intro proper and familiar verses. The harp is still loud and clear, louder than the guitar at times for a unique variation on this old song! We get a fairly aggressive solo by Jimi and it seems by now he has adjusted the Fender amps/JBLs to lose some of the treble edge for a sound that's at least a little closer to his usual Marshall tone. A sax solo at 16:15, another new flavor for VC(SR). Jimi changes to a 3 chord descending riff at 18:00, sounding a bit like a slowed down 'Watchtower', and the harp takes a solo. At 19:30 Jimi introduces a new variation that's reminiscent of 'Calling All Devil's Children' and Buddy takes a turn ad-libbing some vocals. At 12:15 there's a brief lull then Jimi kicks it into a double-time blues workout. Jimi solos at 22:30 then the harp takes a turn. Jimi touches briefly on Cream's 'Outside Woman Blues' then continues the 'free association' with a few bars of 'Sunshine of Your Love'. He then falls into the theme of 'Come On (Pt. 1)', cueing the band on the stops as he sings the opening verse and plows through the chromatic climb into the usual solo spot. The band gets a little lost behind Jimi and stay on the root chord but Jimi's on a roll and keeps right on soloing with full wah, morphing into some fast chordal work ala the 'Killing Floor' intro. At 28:00 he does a snatch of 'The Star Spangled Banner', another case of odd context as he plays over the fast rock groove, then he reprises the 'Come On' riff briefly before pulling back to feature the harp (who never really left anyway- shades of 'Don' in those BOG sessions!). At 32:00 the, or a, sax is featured and lastly we hear the band change keys just before the tape fades out once again.

When the music fades back up the groove is similar so could simply be a continuation. We hear Buddy saying "..we could go on and on but we're going to bring it home...". Jimi slows the riff down a bit to a descending 4 chord progression. Buddy touches on the "we gotta live together" refrain then starts a section commonly listed as 'Feel All Right', no doubt named for the vocal refrain that Buddy repeats a few thousand times :). At 4:20 Jimi does some soloing with the wah, cleverly returning to the chordal comping at the end of each phrase. The flute flutters in and out of the mix and at one point we hear the female vocalist again. At 6:00 the guitar pulls back and drops out - a hint of tuning problem beforehand could well mean Jimi had broken a string. Buddy continues on (of course) and the guitar reappears at 8:19 just before the CD track fades out. This jam apparently runs another 20+ minutes on tape (though is still incomplete!), though from what I've read much of it is Buddy's show...
With all the cuts and fades in this tape, seems that that there may well be more out there somewhere (same goes for some cuts in the 6/20 Experience show, for ex. between 'Hear My Train' and 'Red House'). There are pics of the above jam that show Eric Burdon onstage but he's not in plain evidence on the audio so maybe his parts are among the missing material? Who knows if/when the missing bits will show up? Too cynical to hold my breath but would like to be pleasantly surprised!



  1. Nice collection of data on this amazing festival and more! I can tell you are an avid fan. I noticed your set list is lacking some of acts that performed that weekend... Janis Joplin and It's a Beautiful Day come to mind...

  2. ...Also remember Chambers Brothers, Taj Mahal and Buffy St. Marie amongst those performing.