Billy Gibbons Recalls Jimi Hendrix’s ‘Fast and Furious’ Forum Set
ZZ Top frontman Billy Gibbons was there when the Jimi Hendrix Experience performed their legendary 1969 show at the Los Angeles Forum.
At the time, Gibbons was still in his pre-ZZ Top band Moving Sidewalks, and opening for the Experience on a handful of dates had sparked a friendship with Hendrix. So, on April 26, 1969, Gibbons found himself side-stage watching Hendrix, Noel Redding and Mitch Mitchell deliver an incendiary set.
“Excitement was definitely running high in advance of the Jimi Hendrix appearance,” Gibbons says in a new video, shared below. After initially taking the stage to little fanfare, Hendrix “stepped up and invited the crowd to imagine being in church, and to think of the ceiling as an open sky,” Gibbons adds, “and then it began: Man, it was loud, fast and furious.”
Gibbons says “what unfolded thereafter was firsthand evidence of how Jimi Hendrix had figured out to do things on a Fender Stratocaster that had obviously never been imagined by the designers.”
The Experience tore through iconic tracks like “Foxy Lady,” “Purple Haze” and “Voodoo Child (Slight Return)” that night, as well as deeper cuts like “Spanish Castle Magic” and the instrumental tune “Tax Free.” Through it all, Gibbons watched in awe of Hendrix’s guitar prowess.
“He was a virtual groundswell of previously unknown techniques,” Gibbons says, noting that Hendrix's “ferociousness was unequaled. ... The Jimi Hendrix Experience lit the house up and tore it right down.”
After the show, Hendrix found Gibbons. “Hey man, how did we do?” he inquired. “How do you respond to that? Since really there’s no basis and comparison,” Gibbons admits. “It was such a singular performance. All I could manage to say was ‘Jimi, I am floored and I am fixed.’”
The Jimi Hendrix Experience – Los Angeles Forum: April 26, 1969 captures this legendary concert in its entirety. Gibbons provided the preface for the package, which will be released on Nov. 18 on two-disc vinyl, CD and all digital platforms. The set is available for preorder now.
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