Nearly half a century ago today, the Jimi Hendrix Experience took to Berkeley, Calif. to perform two eclectic sets; the band played older riff-rock tracks coupled with new, scrappy blues compositions well into the night, marking a sudden juncture in Hendrix’s late career. Mere months before his death, Hendrix was grappling with the pressures of his industry: how could he balance giving fans the classics they wanted, while still exploring new territories of sound? Uncertainty loomed as an artist, only to also grow in the face of that decade’s political strife. As Hendrix stepped foot in Berkeley, students protesting the Vietnam war gathered— many of them ticketless— to form riots outside the community theatre.
During these infamous 1970 concerts, Hendrix attempted to reconcile each of these tensions the best way he knew how: as an untamed guitarist, whose experimental improvisations melded with reliable hits, like “Purple Haze,” or “Voodoo Child,” to quiet the world’s chaos, if only for a moment. Today, we famously know half of these recordings from their 2003 Live at Berkeley release, often heralded for some of the best takes of his songs.
Here at Paste, you can hear the uncut originals for yourself. Listen to highlights from the concert below.