On a Friday evening in 1968, Jimi Hendrix paused during a show at Newark’s Grand Symphony Hall and said softly into his microphone: “This is for a friend.” The previous day – April 4 – Martin Luther King had been assassinated. “It was quite a moment,” recalls Robert Wyatt of support band Soft Machine. “It was a low-key remark – but everyone knew who it was for. What was striking was that rather than intense anger, his response was intense sadness. We were all a bit lost for words.”
Within a month, Hendrix began recording “House Burning Down” at New York’s Record Plant studios. “Look at the sky turning hellfire red,” he sang; a raw overture to the year of the Tet Offensive, the assassinations of Dr King and Senator Robert Kennedy and violent demonstrations across the USA.
The new issue of Uncut – in shops tomorrow (August 16) and available online now here – features a comprehensive exploration of the making of Jimi Hendrix’s third and final studio masterpiece, Electric Ladyland – created against the backdrop of a year of social and political upheaval.
In 1968, Hendrix was himself at a turning point. He had returned to America a conquering hero after his domineering performance at Monterey Pop Festival. Emboldened and inspired, he spent the summer at the Record Plant working on a new album – Electric Ladyland – that deftly incorporated funk, soul, jazz and electronica alongside heavy, unclassifiable jams.
“By the time he returned [to the USA] things had changed, big-time,” says Hendrix’s long-time engineer Eddie Kramer. “I don’t think he got more cocky or arrogant, but he definitely became more confident. He was a genuine international superstar, king of the city. And he liked that.”
You can read much more about Jimi Hendrix and Electric Ladyland – as well as 30 other radical albums that shook the world – in the new issue of Uncut, in shops tomorrow (August 16) and available online now.
The October 2018 issue of Uncut is now on sale in the UK – with Jimi Hendrix on the cover. Elsewhere in the issue, you’ll find exclusive features on Spiritualized, Aretha Franklin, Richard Thompson, Soft Cell, Pink Floyd, Candi Staton, Garcia Peoples, Beach Boys, Mudhoney, Big Red Machine and many more. Our free CD showcases 15 tracks of this month’s best new music, including Beak>, Low, Christine And The Queens, Marissa Nadler and Eric Bachman.