annanotbob2's Diaryland Diary



Hendrix would have been eighty today. Imagine that - Hendrix at eighty! What music he might have created doesn't bear thinking about. Some artists just have a brief flurry of brilliance, others go on developing for years, decades. These are my Hendrix stories.

I saw Hendrix at the Isle of Wight festival in 1970. I'm not sure if I've written about this or not. I was sixteen, with strict parents. Two of my friends had been allowed to go on a package holiday to Spain that year and another two had been allowed to go to the Bath festival, where they'd seen Led Zeppelin. My pal Gina and I weren't allowed to go to either, so we hatched a cunning plan, with the help of a slightly older friend of Gina's who worked in Brighton - we lived quite a way inland at the time. We asked if we could go youth hostelling and were granted permission. The friend sent Gina some postcards of Brighton which we wrote then sent back to her in an envelope to send later. We went with her boyfriend Peb and an ex boyfriend of mine, Bill. Jeez, I could write a book about this, but suffice it to say we hitch-hiked there in pairs, meeting up somehow to catch the ferry, Bill and I already barely speaking to each other.

I have hazy memories, of pitching a tent and sleeping in it for one night and never going back to it, of being so hot, of having my first ever spliff passed to me by a handsome French guy sat on the grass next to me in the big arena - it was hash rolled up with French roll-up tobacco and was unspeakably strong but I liked it at once. Kris Kristofferson came on to universal disinterest and the host guy came out at the end of his set and roundly told us all off for being so rude and said that he'd do another set the next day and we were expected to behave much better, or there'd be trouble. I look at the poster now and realise I don't remember much at all. I do remember Joni Mitchell and The Who - Roger Daltrey with big curly hair and a suede jacket with long tassels on the sleeves - I loved The Who's set. Ritchie Havens sang 'Motherless Children' and I think that was the first time I realised I was a motherless child, that my step mother had never treated me like her daughter - that idea lingered. By the time Hendrix came on, late on Sunday night I hadn't eaten or slept for too long. He started the set with the UK national anthem, done in his style, like he used to do the stars and stripes. but he had too much feedback - he liked some but in his control, this was wrong, so he stopped to sort it out. He was taking a long time, so I sat back down on the grass, then lay down and the next thing I knew he was playing 'Hey Joe', everyone around me was on their feet going mad and it was the last fucking encore. We walked back across the island to the ferry then caught a train to Brighton where we found a place that did egg and chips for 1/6 - or seven and a half new pence.


Look at that line-up! And all for three quid - amazing. Daughter emailed into a radio show which was discussing useless parents to tell them about me sleeping through Hendrix and it was read out on the air. They were very rude

A few weeks after we came home I went on a youth club weekend somewhere. Again I was asleep and someone came rushing into the room shouting that Hendrix was dead. I felt something on my face and flicked it away, a wasp, which stung me on its way out. We all cried, mostly about Jimi, but also about being stung by a wasp.

Thirty years later when I was teaching, somehow it came out that none of the kids in a particular class had even heard of Hendrix, not even the music loving ones. I was outraged, and the next lesson brought in a crappy old cassette and played Voodoo Child to them. Most of them didn't give a fuck, but for some that was a magic moment - the scratchy start, then that beautiful wailing guitar - they'd never heard the like - their faces lit up - brilliant. I played it again, a bit louder, then they all had to shut up and write their fucking essays.

Later, I was telling my mate D about it, in her car with all our kids jammed in, including her boy Josh, aged about 8, who was already a budding muso. I mentioned that I'd seen Hendrix at the Isle of Wight, just before he died and Josh let out the biggest howl you ever heard - Hendrix is dead! No! No one ever told him that - he thought he was going to see him live when he was older. Poor Josh. He was heartbroken.

Rest in peace, Jimi. We loved you.

11:55 p.m. - 27.11.22


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