More than 40 years ago, an underground indie performer named Jimi Hendrix left America to perform and tour in Europe. Largely unknown in his native country, European audiences embraced his psychedelic and wildly eclectic style.
From September 1966 to June 1967 – just under ten months – audiences got experienced at 120 shows and Hendrix would return to America a bone fide pop star.
This month, the iconic guitarist would have celebrated his 70th birthday. To celebrate, EMP will unveil a major exhibition chronicling Hendrix’s legendary rise to fame in London. Hear my Train a Comin’, opens Nov. 17 – this weekend – and offers a unique glimpse into the early years of the Jimi Hendrix Experience with rare artifacts, instruments, clothing, lyrics, and photos. The exhibit also features several interactive features that give fans deeper insight into Hendrix songs and music-making techniques.
The exhibit focuses on Hendrix’s arrival in London in September 1966, his rise to prominence on the British pop charts, and his subsequent return to America in June 1967 when his incendiary performance at the Monterey International Pop Festival created a worldwide sensation.
“This time in London really helped shape Hendrix as a pop idol,” said EMP curator Jacob McMurry.
• Shards from the guitar that Hendrix smashed at the conclusion of his famous performance at London’s Saville Theater on June 4, 1967. Hendrix painted the guitar himself and even composed the poem on the back of the instrument.
• Custom tailored jackets by Dandie Fashions, an enterprise that the Beatles later transformed into Apple Tailoring.
• Handwritten lyrics for “Love or Confusion,” penned by Hendrix in November 1966 and released the following year on his debut album, Are You Experienced.
• Western style hat and purple scarf worn by Hendrix on the cover of The Jimi Hendrix Experience’s Smash Hits album.
• Silver sparkle WFL drum kit used by Mitch Mitchell in the late 1960s.
The exhibit also features never-before-seen artifacts from the estate of Jimi Hendrix Experience drummer, Mitch Mitchell. Posters, buttons and early letters show that fans loved Mitchell as much as the band’s front man. Hendrix fans can also catch a glimpse of an extensive collection of oral history interviews from Jeff Beck, Ian McLagan, Al Hendrix, Charles Shaar Murray, Ravi Shankar, Steve Winwood, along with concert footage, including never-before-seen video of Hendrix’s January 29, 1967 performance at London’s Saville Theatre.
Updated: Celebrate Hendrix's 70th Birthday at EMP
EMP will host a 70th birthday celebration for Jimi Hendrix on Tuesday, Nov. 27, featuring a day at the museum packed with special programs in honor of the rock legend. Entrance to EMP’s Sky Church will be free to the public, and seventy year-olds receive free admission to the entire museum all day long.
Hendrix’s white Fender Stratocaster from his legendary performance at Woodstock will be on display; visitors can view video birthday wishes, share their own birthday greetings to the guitar master, and watch rare Hendrix film footage on EMP’s Sky Church screen. Film clips include a music video for Hey Joe filmed in 1967; The Jimi Hendrix Experience performing Wild Thing at the Monterey Pop Festival; Hendrix playing the Star-Spangled Banner; and interviews with Chas Chandler, Noel Redding, Billy Cox, Keith Altham, Kathy Etchingham, Linda (Keith) Porter, Zoot Money, and many more.
EMP’s POP Restaurant + Bar will also offer 50 percent off its signature cocktail “Purple Haze.”
Time: 10 a.m.–5 p.m.
Entrance to Sky Church is FREE to the public on Tuesday, November 27, but does not include admission to Hear My Train a Comin’: Hendrix Hits London or other EMP galleries. 70 year-olds receive FREE admission to all EMP exhibits all day long.