‘Open to all types of music': For Jimi Hendrix, an often-overlooked connection with the Beatles

Jimi Hendrix’s passion for the work of Bob Dylan has been well documented, most notably within his fiery rendition of “All Along the Watertower.” Less talked about is how much he loved the Beatles.

And yet, there was Hendrix at the Savoy in the summer of 1967 performing a volcanic rendition of the title track from Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band — literally within days of its release.

“Even though he loved the blues, he was open to all types of music,” says Bob Smeaton, director of the new Hendrix biopic Hear My Train a Comin.’Sgt. Pepper’s had come out, and Paul [McCartney] might have given Jimi a copy — or Jimi had gone out and brought it. Three days after the album came out, it wasn’t even a week, Jimi had already learned the song — and you see in the documentary that he does his version, which is very different to the Beatles’ version.”

The feeling was mutual, as anyone who’s seen Smeaton’s film also knows: McCartney is a huge presence, having talked to the documentarian for most of an hour. “Paul was a huge fan,” Smeaton confirms. “And he played a part in Jimi becoming a big star, because Paul McCartney was the guy who suggested that Jimi perform at the Monterey Pop Festival in ’67.”

More recently, it was revealed that Hendrix had sent a telegram inviting McCartney to participated in a planned recording sessions that was also to feature Miles Davis. Unfortunately, McCartney never received the message.

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