Jimi Hendrix’s third and final studio album, Electric Ladyland, was released 50 years ago, in October of 1968, roughly two years before his death in 1970. To commemorate that anniversary, Electric Ladyland is getting a deluxe reissue, due out as a box set on Nov. 9. The set will include remastered versions of the original Electric Ladyland tapes, as well as previously unreleased live material.
But a week before Electric Ladyland dropped in 1968, Hendrix was otherwise occupied, touring the U.S. and playing his famously expansive live show with The Jimi Hendrix Experience. The band, featuring Hendrix on guitar, Noel Redding on bass and Mitch Mitchell on drums, performed two back-to-back sets at the now-closed Winterland in San Francisco, Calif., on this day (Oct. 10) in 1968 with guest bassist Jack Casady of Jefferson Airplane. Though the group would ultimately disband the following year, Hendrix did some of his best and creative jamming with Redding and Mitchell. At these Winterland sets, Hendrix’s improvisational tendencies are on full display: One minute he’s toying with growling electric guitar, the next he’s noodling like a jam-band pro. At the second, later set, Hendrix and co. jam for a full 16 minutes on “Tax Free,” a sprawling piece by Bo Hansson & Jan Carlsson that Hendrix was still testing out at the time. They go on to play searing versions of “Purple Haze,” “Hey Joe” and “This Is America.”
Wolfgangs’ Alan Bershaw writes on this bold pair of Winterland shows:
These shows capture Hendrix at his most exploratory, expanding the boundaries of his music and adding other musicians to the mix – in this case with no rehearsals. This new approach would eventually spell the demise of the Jimi Hendrix Experience as a band, but for a brief time, would open up inspiring new possibilities within the music. These sets illustrate the new, improvisational approach that Hendrix was beginning to explore. Without a doubt, these Winterland sets offer fascinating glimpses into Hendrix’s thought process and the new approach he was bringing to his music in 1968.
Listen to The Jimi Hendrix Experience at Winterland in 1968 below. For more Jimi Hendrix fanfare, browse our list of the 15 best Jimi Hendrix tracks.