Jimi Hendrix’s Last Big American Concert Hit Darker Notes

Jimi Hendrix Experience
Freedom: Atlanta Pop Festival
Experience Hendrix/Legacy


Jimi Hendrix was at a musical crossroads when he played the Atlanta Pop Festival on July 4, 1970. With bandmates Mitch Mitchell (drums) and Billy Cox (bass) in tow, he turned in a fiery 16-song set that mixed reliable crowd-pleasers such as “Purple Haze” and “Foxey [sic] Lady” with less-flashy, socially conscious material like “Message to Love” and “Straight Ahead,” which wouldn’t see official release until after his death less than three months later. While Hendrix could easily have phoned it in on the oldies and still thrilled the crowd, he didn’t, preferring to add different, darker textures to his hits; the bluesy staples “Red House” and “Hear My Train a Comin'” found him, as always, using familiar structures to veer off in exciting, unexpected directions. Whether Hendrix was on the verge of entirely abandoning the rock scene for uncharted territory remains unknown, but Freedom: Atlanta Pop Festival suggests big changes were definitely in the offing.


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