Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Hendrix - August 16, 1968

The one act everyone always mentions when they talk about Merriweather history - Jimi Hendrix. Many are surprised to learn that the venue that began hosting the National Symphony Orchestra also had the worlds greatest guitarist on stage less than a year after opening. Those premiere years where a crazy mix of acts: the Doors, Frank Sinatra with Chivas in hand, Janis Joplin.  But no one act in the last 44 years is mentioned with as much awe as Hendrix. Jimi and the Experience toured with Soft Machine for this leg of his 1968 tour and was only two short years away from leaving behind a legacy of music.

That concert day began cloudy and as the concert went on it started to heavily rain and thunder.  According to lucky attendees, the lawn crowd moved toward the covered pavilion and were evidently let in as Jimi coaxed them saying, “let them in” and “Rainy Day, dream Away” and when the thunder started he started playing back to it with some feedback.

They played a busy 45-minute set and at times, it appeared Jimi was fighting back the thunder with feedback from his Marshall stacks.  He gave the show all had expected, including playing his guitar behind his back, with his teeth and leaving all blown away.

 The Set List (48 m) 

1. Are You Experienced
2. Rock Me Baby
3. Foxy Lady
4. Hey Joe
5. Fire
6. I Don't Live Today
7. Purple Haze
8. Wild Thing / Star Spangled Banner

This audio of "Hey Joe" is pretty good, considering it's age and multi-generation status.  Still hard to believe that Hendrix stood on the same stage that exists today.  This was the concert to be at:

"Hey Joe"

Get the original recording at iTunes - Jimi hendrix - Hey Joe

More stuff from the show...

Opening act - Soft Machine

One week later at the Virginia Beach Dome, August 21, 1968 - photos by Bill Stokley


  1. I once heard that this is the concert where he premiered "The Star Spangled Banner", is that true?

  2. Appears to be so from all accounts and a search of Hendrix set lists from that year. The song was right at the end of "Wild Thing", but only receives separate notice on this Merriweather concert on most lists. It subsequently appears regularly on many set lists immediately after this Columbia concert (Atlanta on 7/17/68). Will post that song here shortly.

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  4. I was at this show. Soft machine had ongoing gear problems do to the storm. It wasn't really raining while Hendrix was playing ,after he left the stage ,there was a crack of lightening and thunder ,and all the power went out as far as you could see.

    1. I, too, was at this show. I seem to remember the thunder and lightening occuring at the beginning of the show, because I remember thinking to myself "I hope they aren't going to postpone this show because of the weather". (Cynicism we still have). We were seated on ordinary wooden folding chairs and these were primo seats, right?

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  8. I was there for that one. I seem to recall Jimi having amp issues and he was not as joyful as at the
    Hilton Ballroom show I had seen previously.

  9. I attended this concert with my older brother. I remember the rain and the thunder and lightning and the performance was amazing. I had previously listened to the first album through stereo headphones and was blown away. But there is only one Live. Rock on Jimi

  10. I was there too. I remember a serious t-storm throughout. We had lawn tickets and were perched on the edge of the concrete, as I recall, behind the back row. We both actually FELT lightning once, the only time either of us have ever experienced that. Afterwards we couldn't get out of the parking lot for hours. Apparently the exits were all flooded. Mom and Dad weren't so pleased when I got home at 4AM. The guy who took me got the tickets and for some reason asked me. Says he paid $5 apiece for them. We drove down from Baltimore, the first time either of us was ever in Columbia, which we'd barely heard of. We actually got lost, went all the way to Capital Beltway, and then back up 29. It was raining off and on the whole evening and night. Memorable.