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Earliest Known Footage of Jimi Hendrix Performing
November 19, 2009 6:08 PM   Subscribe

Yeah, that guy back there on the left behind Buddy & Stacey is Jimi Hendrix. It's the earliest known footage of him performing. This other video of the same performance gets something terribly wrong. Embarrassingly wrong. Now get yourself over to TubeRadio.fm and add it to your playlist. (via Ed Cone. And no, I don't work for last.fm or TubeRadio, though I think the latter is pretty cool).
posted by malaprohibita (35 comments total) 12 users marked this as a favorite

 
Hint: Jimi is left handed.
posted by smcameron at 6:24 PM on November 19, 2009


What a maroon.
Is that a Jazzmaster Jimi's playing? A little hard to tell, but I think I see the white soapbar pickup in the neck position.

Love how he's already doing stuff like running his picking hand up and down the neck.
posted by awfurby at 6:28 PM on November 19, 2009


Oh my. How could they POSSIBLY have missed that?!
posted by deadmessenger at 6:33 PM on November 19, 2009


I like this clip (audio only) of him playing 'Get Out My Life Woman' with third-string r&b singer Curtis Knight.
posted by box at 6:36 PM on November 19, 2009


Gods, I'm such a /classique/ music geek. My first reaction was "I don't recall Jimi ever playing for these guys."

Not so much of a geek that I remembered about the upside-down, left-handed thing.
posted by clvrmnky at 6:37 PM on November 19, 2009


There's something terribly wrong with the trousers Buddy and Stacey are wearing.
posted by oneirodynia at 6:50 PM on November 19, 2009 [6 favorites]


After watching this, I went to youtube and watched some of his later live stuff. Virtuosos like Jimi don't even seem to be trying very hard and yet everything appears spontaneous and surprising and beautiful and fully realized. It's weird and wonderful--seemingly effortless creativity. Is the effortless part an illusion? I'm inspired and yet horribly envious.
posted by belvidere at 6:59 PM on November 19, 2009


belvidere: The effortless part is partly illusion. There are many, many hours of practice which you're not seeing. It's true that some people have a lot of talent, and some people don't, but it's also true that even the talented have to work at it (practice) to eventually make it seem effortless. Nobody, but *nobody*, learns to play the guitar well without practicing, though it is true some people get a lot further a lot faster than others.

While playing a well-praticed tune, it can be fairly effortless, but that's only because all the effort has already been put in years before.
posted by smcameron at 7:19 PM on November 19, 2009 [1 favorite]


Yes, smcameron, I completely understand. I played instruments and wrote music for years and years. Hours and hours everyday. I was okay. I remember one day listening (I mean really listening, the way musicians do) to I Am The Walrus, and it hit me that I could live a million years and never make anything as remotely wonderful. Never gonna happen. I don't know where that kind of magic comes from. Perhaps it just occasionally pops in from another universe. I'm quite certain I don't possess it.
posted by belvidere at 7:45 PM on November 19, 2009


An example of what appears to be effortless playing but is in fact the result of months and months of hardcore practice is a lot of Frank Zappa's bands. He preferred to keep his band on salary and spend full-time practicing songs with them, along with a really complicated set of hand-signals. The hand-signals allowed him to make the whole group shift rhythm and gears on a dime, sometimes without the audience even catching what was done.

If you look for it, you can see him doing them here during a performance of "Muffin Man".
posted by jscott at 8:21 PM on November 19, 2009 [5 favorites]


Wow, that Muffin Man rocked. Thanks, jscott.
posted by malaprohibita at 8:32 PM on November 19, 2009


I was thought of Hendrix today while watching this video of Pele (old, weak video; start at 0:40). Something about the utterly organic virtuosity. I mean, it looks like he has the ball on a friggin' yoyo string. He's dancing through the opposing players.
posted by msalt at 8:40 PM on November 19, 2009 [1 favorite]


c/was thought/was thinking/ dangit
posted by msalt at 8:41 PM on November 19, 2009


Now that’s music... not like the kids today, with their crude lyrics and rude noises. Fantastic.

This other video of the same performance gets something terribly wrong.

It looks like the exact same video to me, although of course the second one, in addition to showing the print reversed at the beginning, manages to spell his name wrong. Although the music geeks mentioned by clvrmnky probably know that his earliest band (after he got done working with Little Richard, King Curtis, and Curtis Knight) was called Jimmy James and the Blue Flames.

The Wiki says that even earlier, Hendrix (named Johnny at birth) called himself Maurice James — but I suppose everyone knew him as Nancy — and that his first gig ever was in the basement of a Seattle synagogue, where "After too much wild playing and showing off, he was fired between sets." Definitely not a guy destined to stay way in the back of any band for long...
posted by LeLiLo at 8:49 PM on November 19, 2009


I remember one day listening (I mean really listening, the way musicians do) to I Am The Walrus, and it hit me that I could live a million years and never make anything as remotely wonderful. Never gonna happen. I don't know where that kind of magic comes from. Perhaps it just occasionally pops in from another universe. I'm quite certain I don't possess it.

But you possess the ability to hear it at the highest level of appreciation, a gift in itself. That is something.
posted by _sirmissalot_ at 9:02 PM on November 19, 2009 [2 favorites]


LeLiLo - the print is not reversed at the beginning. At the beginning of the video the shot is a closeup of the middle of the orchestra, but when the shot goes wide, the order of musicians from left to right is:

Drummer
Jimi
2nd Guitarist (or bass? not sure - big instrument)
3rd Guitarist
Sax
Sax
Trombone

The 2nd video incorrectly identifies the 3rd guitarist as Jimi (and misspells his name).
posted by starvingartist at 9:31 PM on November 19, 2009


It is odd. At :09 Jimi goes from playing right-handed, to left-handed. Also, the sax solo player is standing next to Jimi, then is three down from him after :09. All I can figure is they did two takes and edited them together. Not sure what's going on here. The whole performance is way over the top for '65.
posted by wsg at 11:22 PM on November 19, 2009


"If you look for it, you can see him doing them here during a performance of 'Muffin Man'."

Zappa is famous for the way he conducted his bands. For instance, if he made the gesture like he was twirling a lock of hair like a dreadlock, it meant "play a reggae groove." If he did the same gesture with two hands, it meant play a ska groove, cuz ska is like double-time reggae...get it? I did not see any evidence of his famous hand signals in this rocking version of Muffin Man, however.
posted by wsg at 11:34 PM on November 19, 2009 [2 favorites]


belvidere: I'm of the belief that we humans CAN get better at inviting and accepting inspiration. We don't necessarily own it, or make it, we just receive it, we get out of its way and let it use our brains, our hearts, our musical vocabularies, to create. And we most definitely can do things to facilitate that process. That doesn't mean that you can create I Am the Walrus, but it does mean that your 20th song will be better than your 1st. And who knows? Maybe if you write 500 songs, one of 'em will contain a little yellow matter custard.
posted by fingers_of_fire at 1:08 AM on November 20, 2009


It is odd. At :09 Jimi goes from playing right-handed, to left-handed. Also, the sax solo player is standing next to Jimi, then is three down from him after :09. All I can figure is they did two takes and edited them together. Not sure what's going on here.

You are incorrect. Jimi and the other guitarist, flanking the bassist, are both playing Fender Strats, and Jimi, as he became famous for later, has a right-handed instrument inverted and strung left-handed. The opening shot of the other guitarist is definitely a right handed-guy playing a right-handed instrument. (For anyone who does not know the iconic shape of the Stratocaster headstock, here it is. In the wide shots you will notice that Jimi's instrument has the tuning pegs facing down while the other guitar player's are pointed upwards.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 5:22 AM on November 20, 2009 [1 favorite]


Or as awfurby points out, it might be a Jazzmaster... it's hard to tell in the brief, low-res shots. In any event, the headstocks for Fender guitars are much of a muchness and the tuning heads are the giveaway as to which was they are oriented
posted by ricochet biscuit at 5:26 AM on November 20, 2009


and who is the "Jimmy" to whom the second video refers?

Maybe that second guitarist's name was Jimmy.
posted by entropone at 7:15 AM on November 20, 2009


Near as I can tell, this is Little Richard's touring band of the day, The Royal Company, but I can't find any info on who the other musicians are. Apparently, Buddy and Stacy were part of the revue.

The first guitarist seen in the vid -- guitarist #3 in starvingartist's parlance above -- is the BASS player. You can see in that first two-shot with the sax soloist that he's using a pick to play that fast bass figure. His instrument appears to be a Fender Bass VI (Actually more of a baritone instrument. Notable players: Jack Bruce, John Lennon, George Harrison, Bill Laswell, Nigel Tufnel). This guy also has a high-bridged nose unlike Jimi Hendrix and looks NOTHING like him.

Guitarist #2 in the middle is the rhythm guitarist and he appears to be playing a blonde Gibson 330.

Hendrix is on our left next to the drummer and he is playing a Fender Jazzmaster as he often did in those days. Here's Hendrix playing a Jazzmaster with Little Richard and with Buddy and Stacy.

Poke around a bit and you'll find photos of Hendrix playing Jazzmasters, Les Pauls, SGs, 335s, Flying Vees, Supros, Danelectros and various acoustic guitars. He wasn't actually born with a Strat as a conjoined twin.

Like a lot of lefties, he was also partially ambidextrous and was known to pick up a spare righty-strung guitar and jam if there wasn't a lefty-strung guitar handy. Unfortunately, I can't say I've seen pics or vids of this.
posted by Herodios at 7:36 AM on November 20, 2009


ricochet biscuit: You are incorrect.

You are right. I stand corrected. So what is it about the video that is "embarrassingly wrong?" Pardon my ignorance.
posted by wsg at 10:17 AM on November 20, 2009


So what is it about the video that is "embarrassingly wrong?"

This:

The 2nd video incorrectly identifies the 3rd guitarist as Jimi (and misspells his name).
posted by starvingartist at 12:31 AM

posted by Kirth Gerson at 10:49 AM on November 20, 2009


The first guitarist seen in the vid -- guitarist #3 in starvingartist's parlance above -- is the BASS player. You can see in that first two-shot with the sax soloist that he's using a pick to play that fast bass figure.

That is precisely why I am skeptical of the guy on the right being the bassist and playing a Bass VI. Even with the low definition here, it really does not look like that fingering position and that right-hand work we see is going to produce the bass line we hear. The guy in the middle with the Gibson, we cannot see as well, so it could well be him. As well, the scale length on the Gibson looks more basslike to me. I could be wrong of course, but I have been playing bass guitar for about thirty years now and am not the least knowledgeable person in the world on this stuff.

I'd say the guy on the right is playing a Fender guitar and the dude in the middle is playing a Gibson EB-2.


He wasn't actually born with a Strat as a conjoined twin.


I know -- that's why I corrected myself a minute or two after my first post. Could very well be a Jazzmaster, could even be a Mustang... it's hard to tell in the footage here.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 11:28 AM on November 20, 2009


Yeah, watching it again, the guy in the middle with the Gibson is almost certainly plucking. It is not unheard of for guitarists to eschew the plectrum (Robbie Krieger never used one, to my knowledge) and for bassists to use one, but to find both in the same band seems unlikely.

And check the views of the Gibson's headstock visible over the singer's shoulder in the close-ups around 0:50. Looks like a four-stringer to me. That combined with the scale length difference (the Gibson is coming up to the eyebrow level of the faux-Jimmy on the right, while the faux-Jimmy's instrument seems to some up to about the armpit of the baritone sax player to the right of him... sorry, Herodios, I cannot agree with you. That is a Gibson-wielding bassist flanked by two guitar players with Fenders.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 12:06 PM on November 20, 2009


ricochet biscuit: After re-examining the vid I am inclined to agree with you.

Player #2's right hand position does suggest a bass player's rather than a rhythm guitarist.

Also: Freeze the vid at :39 or :42 and there's #2's headstock over Buddy's (or is it Stacy's?) shoulder. Looks like the four tuning pegs of an EB-2.

Good call.
posted by Herodios at 12:08 PM on November 20, 2009


Heh, we must've been replaying the same five seconds of video at the same time, R.B.
posted by Herodios at 12:10 PM on November 20, 2009


So who buys the Coke?
posted by ricochet biscuit at 12:13 PM on November 20, 2009


> So who buys the Coke?

Whoever thought the cat with the roman nose looked anything like Hendrix owes us both, but I'll happily pony up next time we meet, ricochet.
posted by Herodios at 12:18 PM on November 20, 2009


Jimi ruined the guitar for me, I can't stand to listen to mere mortals any more. There are a few guitarists that come close (like Scott Foster) but everyone else just leaves me cold. Now I have to wait till I get home so I can watch this....
posted by phliar at 12:28 PM on November 20, 2009


So what is it about the video that is "embarrassingly wrong?"

This:

The 2nd video incorrectly identifies the 3rd guitarist as Jimi (and misspells his name).
posted by starvingartist at 12:31 AM


And more to the point, he picks the right-handed player as Hendrix. Both Hendrix and the other guitarist are tall and lean black men, but Hendrix definitely played left-handed, which should have been the first clue. The only other left-handed musician who might arguably be more famous is Paul McCartney.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 1:01 PM on November 20, 2009 [1 favorite]


Hard to tell from this angle, but it looks like a Jazzmaster.

Hendrix also played a Duo-Sonic, as did the Stooges.
posted by ovvl at 3:22 PM on November 22, 2009


I thought the fact that one guy was shooting up the other guy's butt to be pretty embarrassing.
posted by CG at 5:28 AM on November 24, 2009


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