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Flashback from April 11, 1969: Jimi Hendrix rocks the Triangle

Flashback is a blog series that goes deep in the archives to back memorable moments in UNC-Chapel Hill history, as told by The Daily Tar Heel. Staff Writer Joey DeVito transcribes articles from past issues so readers can be reminded of the interesting people, events and articles that have affected our campus.

These articles are not new but are previously published pieces from The Daily Tar Heel's archives.

Friday, April 11, 1969

A 'Hendrix Experience' awaits crowd tonight

By Avon Privette

During the last couple of years, the popularity of The Jimi Hendrix Experience has become almost as heavy and solid as their sound. Yet back in 1966 when Hendrix was playing at the Café Wha?, wah-wah peddles were unheard of. Obviously a lot of framework has been laid and monuments built since 1966. Rock has gained new directions.

The story of Hendrix being discovered by Chas Chandler need not be mentioned here, although it is worthy to note that in '66 Hendrix was playing funky stuff like "Midnight Hour" and blues. Hendrix somehow got lost in crossing the Atlantic when Chandler too him to England (The blues lingered almost dormant, but today it is back in his bag again.)

The Jimi Hendrix Experience made their American debut in 1967 at the Monterey Pop Festival. In the subsequent half dozen tours that have followed, they gained a following unheard of for anyone who has never had a top single. But after all, many groups that have commercialized a song into the Number One slot are terrible and have only that one gimmick.

Somehow the word was spread that this guy Hendrix was the most exciting phenomenon to make the rock scene since Elvis himself. Are You Experienced?, his first album, sold but his following was limited basically to the hip who were looking to new horizons .

His second album, Axts: Bold As Love, was popular among the tennie poppers and straight set as well as his previous followers. In fact, many people heard the second album long before they encountered the first.

Hendrix's lyrics range from poetic to fantasia to humorous nothings. "The Wind Cries Mary" is deep and beautiful. (A broom is wearily weeping/ Up the Broken Pieces of Yesterdays life/ Somewhere a queen is weeping/ Somewhere a King has no wife).

In "Wait Till Tomorrow," Dolly Mae's would-be lover is shot by her father; yet the song is light and funny. More of this humor appears in "Up From the Skies" which is about life on a "people farm."

Yet the meat of what his is saying comes in fragmented portions. Two of his best one liners are "Aw Sucks If My Daddy Could See Me Now" and "Loneliness Is Such A Drag."

Hearing the first two albums one can feel the totality of what Hendrix's music is doing. The ear shattering fuzz tones and shrill distortions are just a part of his bombardment of the senses. But this sound was new and different. The novelty of The Hendrix Experience caught on snowballed and by the spring and summer of '68.

"Novelty" is the term used upon release of Hendrix's third album, Electric Ladyland. It was evident that many of Hendrix's followers really did not understand what he was doing after all. Many dug only the commercialized songs like "Little Miss Strange" and "Crosstown Traffic."

His perfection in using wah-wahs, fuzz tones, and distortions are more evident in Electric Ladyland.

Some of the tracks are longer. This presents a way in which he can go further out and experiment. The jams are sensational and indicate the enormous amount of perfection he has achieved with the guitar.

But only part of the complete Hendrix Experience can be found on the record. The stage performance itself truly reveals what it is all about.

Enter Hendrix, cocky and dressed in flashing colors – red, purple. When "Purple Haze" begins, usually the opening number, one can sense the vast power – electrostatic thunder – that is being unleashed.

Hendrix drives hard and pounds away at the sounds of conventional rock. He makes use of the 400 watts of amplification and the more-than-twenty Sunn speakers. The volume is so intense that he can make numerous sounds on his guitar without even touching it with his left (picking) hand. He can tap it with his ring and it sounds like Big Ben striking twelve. He plays with his teeth and nose, behind his back, over his head and between his legs in his new famous "crotch position."

When he steps back from the mike to break into a riff, he arches up on his toes in a moment of supreme ecstasy.

This area will finally get a change to be "experienced" – tonight at the Dorton Arena at 8:30. Tickets are on sale at the Record Bar for $6, $5, $4, and $3.

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