Hendrix: disastrous Band of Gypsys gig at Madison Square Garden

Discussion in 'Music Corner' started by Chris M, Dec 21, 2011.

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  1. Chris M

    Chris M Senior Member Thread Starter

    Location:
    Baton Rouge, LA
    The aborted 1/70 BOG show at MSG is one if the strangest chapters in Jimi history. Exactly what went down is shrouded in mystery. All we know for certain is Jimi's condition was dubious and after two songs he refused to continue closing the BOG.

    Buddy Miles claimed Mike Jeffery slipped Jimi bad LSD in an effort to embarrass him so he would reform the JHE. Buddy: "my sister and I saw Jeffery slip Jimi two tabs of LSD, and I personally saw Jimi take them. He looked so scared." Jeffery hiring a film crew to document the performance casts doubt on the story. In any event it was obvious things were not well. Johnny Winter was backstage and recalled: "when I saw him it gave me chills. It was the most horrible thing I'd ever seen. He came in with his entourage and it was like he was already dead."

    After the second song Jimi cryptically announced "that's what happens when earth fu*ks with space" and refused to continue. Some reports have Jimi sitting on stage with his head in his hands crying. Jeffrey went backstage and fired Buddy on the spot. Billy Cox went home to Nashville.

    This isn't your normal rock star shows up too loaded to do the gig though. Listening to the tape it's clear Jimi is not himself but there is some inspired playing during Who Knows. His voice is strange and distant giving everything an strange vibe, even his standard intro to the audience is ominous. Hard to describe other than it has "the spook". Earth Blues is more or less a train wreck though with Jimi distracted and forgetting the words. Footage shows Jimi hunched over in obvious pain. Perhaps the result of poorly manufactured dose of LSD?

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oSdVb_7sJ6E&feature=related - excellent recording of the complete show

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iM5k7uETjUs&feature=g-all&list=PLD83FD857D49F2A2C - big upgrade of the circulating Earth Blues footage
     
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  2. CDix

    CDix Active Member

    Location:
    New England US
    Definitely a weird episode, sure seems like a bad trip. Probably bad acid laced with strychnine which would account for the physical pain. Jimi was always one to be able to craft his buzz so very possible he was dosed unknowingly (maybe on top of knowingly). Seemed to happen a lot in the day, and that would've been a gig that was heavy on the hangers-on etc. Sad end to the BoG, a band that made some fine music.
     
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  3. Metralla

    Metralla Joined Jan 13, 2002

    Location:
    San Jose, CA
    Poorly made LSD - yes; strychnine - no. A myth that was around then, and continues to this day.

    http://www.erowid.org/chemicals/lsd/lsd_myth5.shtml
     
  4. CDix

    CDix Active Member

    Location:
    New England US
  5. Tone

    Tone Forum Resident

    Yes, Jimi doesn't sound or look right at all there.

    Johnny Winter was at the Band of Gypsys concert at Madison Square Garden on January 28th, 1970 when Jimi Hendrix walked off the stage. Johnny Winter ~ ”I heard all kinds of things like he took some bad acid… Who knows? I was there that night and it was real obvious that something was wrong. I really don’t know if it was drugs or he just had a bad night, but it was really scary. I don’t have the faintest idea what it was but it was one of the scariest things I ever saw.”
     
  6. PacificOceanBlue

    PacificOceanBlue Forum Resident

    Location:
    The Southwest
    I never bought into the conspiracy that Jeffery sabatoged the event. It would seem there would be better ways at disbanding the BOG than having Hendrix implode at Madison Square Garden in front of a huge NYC crowd and press.

    Something was clearly going on with Hendrix. His remark of "that's what happens when earth fu*ks with space" seems to have some significance and may possibly be specifically directed at someone or something. Hard to tell what was going on. If he was in a bad state of mind at the time and took some bad drugs, things could have unraveled all on their own without a particular pre-show incident taking place.
     
  7. CDix

    CDix Active Member

    Location:
    New England US
    I agree. Besides putting his meal ticket in a bad light, how would Jeffreys even know how Jimi would react to a deliberate dosing? Jimi had certainly proved himself capable of playing brilliantly on any number of drugs! Also for all his power over Jimi and for all the plans he had for an Experience reunion (witness the cobbled-together group Rolling Stone interview within a week) I'm not sure Jeffreys could've simply fired one of Jimi's band mates totally against Jimi's wishes. No, Jimi's performance (or lack of) was some unknowable combination of bad dope (willingly taken and/or not), bad state of mind, physical ailment...and who knows (so to speak) what else...
     
  8. Chris M

    Chris M Senior Member Thread Starter

    Location:
    Baton Rouge, LA
    Any thoughts on Jimi's performance during Who Knows? One thing that jumps out is the pauses between phrases are much longer than normal. The uninterrupted flow of ideas isn't there even though he plays some nice licks. I wish we had the multi-track recording.
     
  9. CDix

    CDix Active Member

    Location:
    New England US
    Yeah he just doesn't quite sound connected. There's some good playing incl some nice some sliding octaves and wah work but it sounds more like he's just falling into familiar patterns. He switches between styles and sounds without the organic flow he usually exhibited (hell, lived!)...
     
  10. OE3

    OE3 Forum Resident

    Pfft, like Jimi Hendrix wasn't taking two tabs with morning coffee by 1970.
     
  11. dino77

    dino77 Well-Known Member

    Location:
    Europe
    Likely Jimi was sick to death of Buddy and his ego by this time (BOG was only intended as a temporary solution anyway). And then he was being pushed by his manager to reform the original Experience (Noel and Mitch were backstage and prepared to do some songs). These pressures topped with too much dope would be more than enough to send him off stage.
     
  12. dino77

    dino77 Well-Known Member

    Location:
    Europe
    He did when you hung out with him every morning? Thanks for the info...
     
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  13. Cokelike-

    Cokelike- Forum Resident

    Location:
    Columbus, Oh
    The only other documented type he stopped a gig early (9/70 Denmark) was because he was too messed up to continue. I would agree that he was on something that hindered his playing. Exactly what it was and how he got it, we dont know.

    Definitely an interesting chapter in his career when you think of the possibilites. We have Trixie Sullivan on record saying something to the effect of "Mike Jefferies left the music side of things totally up to Jimi." I would believe that what she says is true. Therefore, I dont believe the dissolution of the BOG was something that Jimi had no control over. Further, we have Eddie Kramer stating that during the mixing sessions for the live album Jimi was listening to Buddy's vocals and saying "Buddy, shut up..." or something similar. (Yeah, I know this doesnt explain why we have so much 'wooo-wooo-wooo' from Buddy on the album but its what he said.)

    Jimi started as a sideman to people like Little Richard who wouldnt accept any type of one-upmanship. Those experiences may have influenced him once he had his the clout to run things his way. I feel he may have not liked the way Buddy "did his thing" live.

    Also, in the recent Ultimate Hendrix book, Page 193:

    Despite the dizzying peaks of the Fillmore East performances, the four concerts seemed to confirm quiet reservations Hendrix and his management team had about Miles's undefined role in the group. Miles had a strong ego, and Hendrix did not view the BOG as a partnership. Moreover, her was aggravated by the drummer's presumptive behavior and abuse of privilages such as limousine services, dental work, and airline tickets for family members. "Jimi truly loved Buddy", explains Cox. "But He was the Star. He was the boss. This was an unspoken issue, but all you have to do is listen to any BOG performance and you will hear it. We musicians have to be careful not to cross these boundary lines. You have to pay homage to Caesar. Render unto Caesar the things which are Caesar's. Sometimes that did not happen. That disturbed Jimi, and I think Buddy finally became aware of this by the end."
     
  14. Cokelike-

    Cokelike- Forum Resident

    Location:
    Columbus, Oh
    Really? Never heard this. After all the rehearsing and new material prepared?
     
  15. CDix

    CDix Active Member

    Location:
    New England US
    Yes that's a good quote from Billy Cox, our last living connection to Jimi's performing bands. It's a shame too because BoG made some very vital music, Miles providing a funky back beat and Miles/Cox providing two part harmony vocals, neither of which Jimi would enjoy before or after. Don't get me wrong, Mitch was a monster but I never felt he gave the BoG material like Machine Gun, Message to Love or Ezy Ryder quite the right groove on the '70 shows. On the other hand, Buddy couldn't touch Mitch on most of the old Experience material- listening to him try and tackle even a drum showcase like Fire during the BoG Fillmore shows is painful it's so clumsy and heavy handed.

    Of course these debates (why did BoG break up, who was the better drummer blah blah) have swirled forever. The important thing I try to remember is that they only take on added significance because Jimi had such a painfully compressed timeline with us. If he'd enjoyed a 40 rather than a 4 year career at the top then the membership changes of 69/70 would be mere footnotes. I mean, who remembers a bad show or pays any attention to all the membership changes, never mind reasons for same, in the various bands of a Miles Davis or Jeff Beck? Jimi would've gone on to play with a multitude of players in a multitude of configurations/styles IMO.

    Actually the Jeff Beck timeline comparison is one I think about a lot. If *god forbid* Mr Beck had been taken from us at the same relative point in his career as Jimi was then he would be frozen in time somewhere between the first two Jeff Beck Groups (and that's if you start the clock after the Yardbirds!). At that point Jeff had just barely begun to break away from the blues based trio and started to stretch out...just like Jimi was near the end. We would've never known everything after: Blow By Blow, Wired, the Guitar Shop stuff, on and on. We were robbed of that continued maturation of Jimi...but boy we can be all the more thankful for what we got.
     
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  16. dead of night

    dead of night Forum Resident

    Location:
    Northern Va, usa
    Is it true that at this time Jimi was being "toured to death"? I've read that he had a very bad itinerary, taking him all across the country without any organized pattern. I've read that Jimi needed rest, but his management kept him on the road. Is this true?
     
  17. Chris Schoen

    Chris Schoen Forum Resident

    Location:
    Maryland, U.S.A.
    Gosh, even Rock Stars have bad days. Does'nt help when drugs (especially acid) are involved. Out of respect I don't dwell on these things. Who has'nt done something in their life that they wish they could "do over". RIP Jimi. Your performance that made it to the BOG album makes up for any personal mistakes you may have made (imo).
     
  18. Chris Schoen

    Chris Schoen Forum Resident

    Location:
    Maryland, U.S.A.
    The people around Jimi "killed" him. Some of these people who end up dead too soon just need a long walk on a beach regularly with someone who really cares about them as a person...
     
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  19. Purple Jim

    Purple Jim Forum Resident

    Location:
    Little Britain
    Even if Jimi was fed up with Buddy by this time (and rightly so), I don't think he would have aborted the gig with that in mind. He always rose to important occasions. He must have been so sick up there.

    What is curious is the way in which Miles was fired on the spot amidst the backstage mayhem. Jimi must have intended to allow Mike to announce the decision to him sometime after the show (the day, the week after?) but if Buddy came on at Mike accusing him of this and that, Mike might just have cracked and told him that he was fired there and then to put an end to it.
     
  20. Chris M

    Chris M Senior Member Thread Starter

    Location:
    Baton Rouge, LA
    Your non-sequitur is duly noted.
     
  21. musicalbeds

    musicalbeds Strange but not a stranger

    Location:
    Ontario, Canada
    I totally agree, and on top of that, he also had the Canadian trial stress for so long, it's small wonder the man didn't have many more of these nights.

    It also could be something physical. He might have eaten a bad burrito, been constipated, gasy and flatuent.... it's all conjecture. Heck, I know doses cramped me up and while my head was fine, the rest of my body felt like it was a balloon that was inflating at times...the pressure was enough to make my eyes feel like they were bulching out of my head!

    If Jimi ate a meal that disagreed with him, and dosed.... the results would be exactly what you see in that video, imo.
     
  22. musicalbeds

    musicalbeds Strange but not a stranger

    Location:
    Ontario, Canada
    After hearing his "live bootleg" of the 2006 shows, I came to the conclusion that Jeff is the ONLY rock guitar player worthy of comparison to "what might have been for Jimi". His picture is on my profile because I believe he's the greatest living rock guitar player, carrying on Hendrix's quest for different, original, beautiful sounds.

    There's no one else who's shown the same desire to push the envelope like Jimi, and as you say, we were robbed of seeing his maturation and after seeing what Jeff has done with his life, it's easy to weep over what we lost from Jimi.

    Jeff, in '75, talks about how much Jan Hammer's phrasing has influenced the notes he chooses on Blow By Blow.....Hendrix I'm sure, would have had his own meetings that changed the way he looked at his instrument and we would have reaped the rewards.

    Long live Jeff Beck, and long live Jimi's music...hopefully unfutzed by Janie's poor decisions in handling his legacy.
     
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  23. Baron Von Talbot

    Baron Von Talbot Well-Known Member

    Maybe this is the solution, Eating something terrible and being given too much acid unknowingly.One source mentions one of his NY based girlfriends doing that to him because of jealousy or somethig.
    The stress of finally playing the biggest and most imporant show ever with a new group with only limited material ready to perform; tensions between the group members and management a film crew invading the back stage and stage with extra lights - all that brings up enough tension already, that your stomach might be feeling a bit weak, then as if all that was not enough he felt a massive rush of very strong acid coming on, which he wasn't willing to endure; maybe he was even afraid of this being a kind of flashback and then it's showtime . Angst, anxiety and a bad feeling in the stomach driving him nuts, he tries to cope and gets in some kind of groove and succeeds for a moment, but loses the natural harmonic flow in between, finally realizing this himself and getting frustrated to a point where he is willing to quit and then he says something like 'this happens when the earth ****s with heaven' or vice versa - makes sense somehow - don't think we are too far away from what actually happens, but in the end we will never know. Jimi did not know the whole story either. Fact seems to be he was giving acid with bad intentions and he took it unknowingly/unwilling to get high on this occasion. The rest is not that difficult to imagine...esp. when one knows what acid can do to you !
     
  24. bluesbro

    bluesbro Forum Hall of Shame

    Location:
    DC
    Am i the only one who hears sarcasm the way Jimi introduces Buddy: "we have THE Buddy Miles on drums, sure, thank god"

    That and the foxey lady remark, sound to me he was pissed, not drugged
     
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  25. Lownote30

    Lownote30 Bass Clef Addict

    Location:
    Nashville, TN, USA
    LSD nearly stops your digestive system which can cause pain due to air build up in the system. Opiates do the same thing.
     
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