50th Year Anniversary of Jimi Hendrix's Harlem Concert

AUGUSTA, Ga. - Aug. 31, 2019 - PRLog -- Jimi Hendrix in Harlem – Sept. 5th, 1969

        The headliner of Woodstock, Jimi Hendrix, had the most famous moment of the whole festival, with his scorching and brilliant musical interpretation of the current state of affairs of the U.S., in the form of the Star-Spangled Banner. This same Jimi Hendrix turned around three weeks from his Woodstock performance and played a free benefit concert on the streets of Harlem.

        How can the biggest musical star in the world go from playing the biggest music festival of all-time and getting all the press in the world to playing a free benefit concert in Harlem for the United Block Association (UBA) and not receive much press? To make matters worse, we are quickly approaching the 50th year anniversary of Jimi's UBA Harlem performance and I haven't seen one article about it. That's where I step in.

  I have been studying Jimi Hendrix for the past 22 years from a scholarly perspective. Not only do I take the study of Jimi Hendrix very seriously, but I specifically place special emphasis on his impact on Black Culture. September 5th, 2019, along with December 31st- January 1st, 2020 have been on my radar for a long time. These dates will not only mark the 50th year anniversaries of the Harlem and BOG's Fillmore East concerts, but they are essential turning points in Jimi's Black Community Outreach program. Jimi's music was always funky and fit for Black people, but it was around these dates that he began to put everything together, which would translate into more people of color getting into his music.

  This Harlem UBA concert has been covered over the years briefly in various Jimi Hendrix bios, fanzines, and other Hendrix-related literature. With a few exceptions, the perspective usually came from White authors, most who weren't at the concert. The eyewitness accounts were mixed that have been documented, but the consensus is that Jimi and his group started off slow and had some hecklers among the Harlem crowd. Somebody even threw an object at the band. This in turn fired Jimi and the band up and led them to cater to the Harlem crowd more, going back to their chitlin' circuit days. By the end of the performance, Jimi had won the Harlem crowd over.

  Jimi had the awareness to know that his performance at Woodstock, as awe-inspiring and galvanizing as it was, didn't reach the average person in the inner city. So, he went down to Harlem and gave a free concert to spread that same energy and positive vibration, because, seven dollars is a lot of money!!!

Corey A. Washington

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