Johnny Mayer, Blues Musician

Jimi Hendrix, Purple Haze, Fender Strat

Jimi Hendrix

By Johnny Mayer

One night in 11th grade, I was hanging out with my friend Steve Cohen, when we heard Hendrix was playin' at the Madison Coliseum. We didn't have tickets or money and just decided out of the blue "We gotta go, man!"

So we hopped a bus to Madison and hitchhiked to the Coliseum. It was a madhouse there were thousands of people milling about outside because the cops wouldn't let them in... all of a sudden the doors opened and people started streaming in...

Steve and I walked next to the building and all the time we motioned for someone inside to open the door for us... then all of a sudden, someone popped the door open and we flew inside and ran like crazy the hallway ... we came to a place where we couldn't run and farther and entered a side door and found ourselves in the front row!

There was lots of tension and electricity in the hall from the anticipation of hearing Jimi Hendrix and because the cops. I remember staring up at a wall of "Marshall" amps I was 15 and had never been to rock concert it was awesome to look at all that equipment.

After awhile, the house lights went down and they turned on the stage lights ... the band got on stage one by one, Mitch Mitchell, Noel Redding then Hendrix grabbed his guitar which was white and plugged in ... he started tuning it up and playing blues licks he fiddled around for a while and then tore into the first song.

The volume was unbelievable... it took me awhile until I could hear anything then I recognized the songs - "Wind Cries Mary", "Purple Haze", "Hey Joe" and the Spangled Banner that he played as an unaccompanied solo full of strength and anger.

Hendrix didn't say much to the audience ... at one point he broke a string and laid his guitar down on the stage while he went to get a new one ... I remember it just lay there screamin'. Also he did lots of tricks .... playing behind his back, with his teeth and setting his guitar on fire .. in the end he smashed his guitar and walked off stage ..."

Jimi Hendrix, Experience Hendrix Magazine

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