45 Years Ago: Jimi Hendrix Played Providence But First, He Held An Audition
Originally baffling critics upon its release in the fall of 1968, Jimi Hendrix’s Electric Ladyland has gone on to be recognized as some of the his best work. His transcendent wah effects on “Voodoo Chile (Slight Return)”, and cover of Bob Dylan’s “All Along The Watchtower” that is widely considered better than the original, anchors an album that sounds strange at first, but over repeated listens becomes a strangely thrilling adventure.
Hendrix showed off his legendary guitar chops on the 1969 Electric Ladyland U.S. tour, which hit the Rhode Island Auditorium in Providence on May 17, 1969. Check out a poster for the Providence gig below.
The Jimi Hendrix Experience spent much of May ’69 alternating between live shows and recording sessions, some of which would end up on Hendrix’s posthumous ninth studio album, Midnight Lightning. The band couldn’t generate any real buzz for the release of Electric Ladyland themselves because they were so busy recording and touring. The sessions were also plagued by malfunctioning equipment and discord within the band, as Jimi himself served as producer and the record lacked the extra ear of an independent producer.
Circa 1968: Portrait of the rock group The Jimi Hendrix Experience, left to right, Noel Redding (1945 – 2003), Jimi Hendrix (1942 – 1970) and Mitch Mitchell. (Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images)
Still, the Experience pressed on and launched their 1969 U.S. tour in Raleigh on April 12. The large arena shows constituted their biggest tour to date, and their show at the Rhode Island Auditorium was no different.
Earlier on the day of that show, according to Ultimate Hendrix, Hendrix held an audition for Billy Cox to replace Noel Redding as bassist – without Redding’s knowledge, as Jimi held the session without him in attendance. Cox won the job easily.
Jimi would go on to perform with the Experience that night in Providence, with Redding as the bassist, despite the secret auditions. They played what is described by Rock Prophecy as the second part of a “trilogy of magic castles”, three special versions of “Spanish Castle Magic” – the Providence version including an early rendition of what would become the song “Earth Blues”.
Here’s another original tour poster from the show
- Lover Man
- Spanish Castle Magic
- Red House
- Hear My Train A-Comin’
- Sunshine of Your Love (Cream cover)
- Foxey Lady
- Purple Haze
- Star-Spangled Banner
- Voodoo Child (Slight Return)
Though the show was surrounded by the fractious recording sessions that would contribute to the eventual breakup of the Jimi Hendrix Experience, it was still another example of Jimi’s live energy and creativity when putting together setlists and delivering unique performances to fans. See more photos from that very show over at RIRocks.net.
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