Hendrix: Were YOU there?
Hendrix experiences Leeds
You may not know this, but March 2007 marks the 40th anniversary of Jimi Hendrix's first performance in Leeds, in front of a sparse crowd at a club in Chapeltown.
It's the kind of parlour game music obsessives love to play - which of your musical heroes would you have loved to have seen given half a chance? Well, many Jimi Hendrix fans in Leeds may be unaware that the great man DID actually play a gig here in March 1967, just before he was brought to the nation's attention the next month, on a package tour featuring The Walker Brothers, Cat Stevens and Engelbert Humperdinck!!
As part of a mini-tour of the North of England, Jimi played the International Club, a converted synagogue in Chapeltown, following on from a date in Newcastle, and just before a notorious date in Ilkley that was curtailed by the local constabulary.
All three dates were organised by local promoter Stuart Frais who was heavily involved in the music business at that time with his company S & D Enterprises:
"I'd booked The Animals before and knew bassist Chas Chandler. By the end of 1966, Chas was managing a newcomer from the States called Jimi Hendrix, who he introduced to me when I bumped into him at the London music scene hangout of the time, The Bag O' Nails.
He Looked like nobody I'd seen before and I was intrigued. A few months later Chas rang up and I agreed to set up a few dates in the North of England to help spread the word about his new protegé, although at the time of the booking he was a financial risk.
His standing at that point is best shown by the fee for the gig - 22 pounds and 10 shillings, at least half the usual fee for an act with some kind of reputation. However, by the time of the gig, "Hey Joe" had reached the Top Ten and his second UK single, "Purple Haze" had just been released, so really we should have garnered some interest."
He played the Club A Go Go in Newcastle then arrived in Leeds for his gig at The International Club on 11 March 1967. The International was basically a black-run blues club in Chapeltown and in retrospect maybe wasn't the ideal venue for a rock act (even a black one). Consequently the gig was poorly attended and of those that did turn up, one or two were less than impressed - one guy accosted Jimi outside and shouted: "Hendrix, you're sh*t"!!
Jimi the played in Ilkley the following night and then the whole party went back to stay at Stuart's flat in Hyde Park. Stuart remembers Hendrix as a really nice man:
"He was a sensitive, sweet guy - a really lovely bloke. Perhaps that was why he ended up as he did - maybe he couldn't say no to people!"
Read all about Jimi's exploits in Ilkley:
Didn't go to Ilkley but saw Hendrix etc. at the Odeon in Leeds and will never forget the experience. Mum and Dad took me, my sister and brother - we were not even teenagers, but I am sure they had no idea just how Jimi would use that guitar!! Absolutely hair raising stuff and looking back, we really were three very lucky youngsters.
In March '67 I was taking photographs on Briggate and a car pulled up and Jimi got out for a look around. I recognised him straight away as I was a huge blues fan and thought he was a one of the greatest blues guitarists I had ever heard. I approached him and asked him what he was doing in Leeds, he replied he was playing a gig at Ilkley that night and seeing my friend and I had what passed for professional cameras in those days, asked if we would like to come to Ilkley that evening to take photos of him playing. We said yes and rushed back home to cadge a lift. When we arrived, the place was heaving with people and thought we wouldn't get in. So we found someone who worked there and told them Jimi had asked us to come and take photos of him. To our surprise we were ushered into Jimi's dressing room! We spent an hour there chatting with Jimi, Mitch and Noel before the gig.
last updated: 29/12/2008 at 18:38