Words by Dylan Bryant

In such a time of poignance, Music Editor – Dylan Bryant, writes about one of Music’s greatest ever talents and recalls a piece of Brighton’s best ever black history.

Jimi Hendrix – December 2nd, 1967, Brighton Dome

Widely regarded as one of the most influential and legendary guitarists of all time, it may come as a surprise that Jimi Hendrix once played at Brighton Dome. He was supported by British rock bands Pink Floyd and ‘The Move’, who later became Electric Light Orchestra, so anyone who was there that night, saw a pretty cool line up!

At the time, Jimi was establishing himself as one of the greats in the music business and I have inserted part of a review from the Brighton Gazette dated December 8th, 1967. 


Extract from the Brighton Gazette 8 December 1967.  

Music to get your teeth into…

For many of the near-capacity audiences-comprising a large cross-section of Brighton’s young adult population – it was probably the first time that they had heard music at the right level of amplification, free from complaints by landladies and neighbours. The main attraction was Jimi Hendrix, the 22-year-old American n***o who based himself in England just over a year ago, and he was well worth the billing. Long-limbed in his flash gear, he strolled on the stage playing his guitar with one hand only. He played it with his teeth, on the floor, and behind his back. “Remember you’ve gotta practice every day” he cracked. Meanwhile, bass guitarist Noel Redding filled in the thick, warm backing for the songs which included the original Hendrix hits of “Hey Joe” and “Purple Haze”. He closed the show with “Wild Thing” , a hard, tearing version of the Troggs’ hit that sent vibrations clear to the waiting crowd outside.

An even lesser known piece of History is that just a few weeks prior to this, Jimi Hendrix graced the stage right here on campus – Saturday 11 November 1967. He was joined alongside his band mates – Bassist, Noel Redding and Drummer, Mitch Mitchell. Those in attendance were lucky enough to hear his hits ‘Hey Joe’, ‘The Wind Cries Mary’ and ‘Purple Haze’. A packed crowd of nearly 2000 students were in attendance on the night.

Expanding the ability and vocabulary of the electric guitar more than anyone before – or since; for that matter. His legacy will live on forever. But why was Jimi Hendrix so important to the music industry?

Jimi Hendrix rejected the negative racial stereotypes he was attached to simply through the raw power of talent. However, one of the most common misconceptions is that his ability and talent was irrelevant to his race. Jimi was notoriously frustrated with how he was viewed by his fans – a drugged up, hypersexual black man playing a white man’s music. However, these defective perceptions are what drove Jimi to rocket launch black music to the mainstream. 

His aesthetic wasn’t typical for a black musician in the 60s. As one of the first black sex symbols to be endorsed by white fans, it was alien for him to be surrounded by predominately white groupies – during a time when it was deemed socially unacceptable for a black person to be in a relationship with a white person.

Hendrix was accompanied in the Jimi Hendrix Experience by two bandmates who were both white, his girlfriends predominately white, the majority of his fans also white, even his fashion was that of a stereotypical white hippie. However, ignore the visualities and listen to his soulful and bluesy tones on songs such as ‘Pali Gap’ and ‘Easy Blues’. The screaming guitar licks, and the groovy drum beats and basslines are undoubtedly inspired by Hendrix’s fondness for black blues guitarists growing up such as BB. King and Elmore James. 

Hendrix took black music and launched it onto the world stage. He took traditional Blues and R&B and experimented with it heavily, making sounds that no one had heard from a guitar before. Notoriously his live performance also involved unparalleled moves and techniques.

Despite his success, Hendrix continued to be racially profiled. He was referred to by the press as a “Psychedelic Superspade”. A word used to describe exceptionally talented black people. This was complex for Hendrix – he didn’t want to be seen as just a black guitarist but also, he was proud of his race and didn’t want to ignore the inspirations and roots of his music.  

It’s important that not only do we appreciate the extreme talent and genius of the greatest guitarist to ever live, but also to remember the role he played in popularising Black Music, not just during this important month, but always. 

Here is the playlist for this issue of The Badger! – ‘The Best of Jimi Hendrix’. Like and follow our Spotify as we broaden our portfolio of playlists in the coming editions. 

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