In the popular imagination, the 1960s festival scene in America went directly from Monterey Pop in 1967 to Woodstock in 1969 — but there was a too-often overlooked stop in between, and Jimi Hendrix was there, too.
That’s not the only connection. Michael Lang was the organizer of both 1968′s Miami Pop Festival and its much more famous successor, Woodstock. Held May 18, 1968 at Gulfstream Park in Hallandale, Florida, the event also included Frank Zappa, Steppenwolf, Chuck Berry, John Lee Hooker, Blue Cheer and the Crazy World of Arthur Brown, among others.
Still, it was Hendrix — after electrifying the rock world the previous June by setting his instrument aflame at Monterey — who was the undisputed headliner.
Together with Noel Redding and Mitch Mitchell, Hendrix focuses primarily on his ground-breaking debut through a fire-kissed first-day appearance. The Experience likely planned to debut music from their just-released album Axis: Bold As Love later on — but the second day was washed out by a spring storm. All of it had remained the stuff of legend, until now. Miami Pop Festival will be issued for the first time ever on CD and vinyl on November 5, 2013 via Legacy Recordings.
Hendrix, tearing through the event-closing evening set, sounds completely in his element — from the simmering “Hey Joe” to the eruptive “Purple Haze,” with the first-ever recorded live takes on both “Tax Free” and “Hear My Train A Comin’” in between. There are also two additional tracks from his earlier afternoon show, “Fire” and “Foxey Lady.”
Miami Pop Festival is presented with surprising fidelity, the result of Hendrix’s decision to bring along engineer Eddie Kramer — then at work with the guitarist constructing Electric Ladyland — to oversee the recording of this Florida performance. Ladyland would include “Rainy Day, Dream Away,” a song Hendrix wrote in tribute to this festival’s easy-going vibe.