Jimi Hendrix at Frank’s Restaurant, Harlem for a press conference with the Black Associated Press on September 3, 1969 two weeks after Woodstock.
The press conference was called to announce his upcoming benefit performance on behalf of the United Block Association, a Harlem based youth organization, Jimi spoke about the festival and his memorable rendition of “Star Spangled Banner.”
Here’s the video from the event:
Here’s the transcript from the event by Soul Patrol:
Jimi Hendrix: It seems to me that,uh..music has a lot of influence on young people today,you know.Politics are getting..well I don’t know,you know how they do, you know. A cat was talkin’ on TV,a cat from Mississippi, a former Mississippi cat, you barely understand him, except when he says, “America”, you know, so then he’s gonna and vote for him.
But in music it’s all true, either true or false.You know,and like uh,with a large gathering of people with music, it shows that music must mean something It breaks down to the arts of earth, you know the earth arts.
The success was that it was one of the largest gathering of people, and the musical sense of it, you know. And ,uh, It could of been arranged ,you know. a little more tighter, but it was a complete success compared to all the other festivals that everybody tried to knock it. I’d like to see the same thang happen, and have some kind of trolley or bus thing from other areas of town. Some kind of..’Cause I’d like everybody to see these kind of festivals with everybody mixed together. You wouldn’t believe it, you really wouldn’t.
Question: Well, do you think, ah, that anything significant was stated by this gathering.
Jimi Hendrix: It seems to me that. (questioner says inaudible addition) Oh yeah, yeah, it’s true. And it just spread harmony and communication, and there was no violence at all out there which is completely different. For a mixed group or whatever you want to call it.
Question: Do you think this is gonna have an influence on uh..future festivals, errr…(Q:.. the music..)
Jimi Hendrix: Well,the idea of nonviolence, and the idea of when your attendance is over the thing, you should let everybody else in free. Yeah, that idea, yeah, and the idea of people really listening to music over the sky, you know,in such a large body.Everybody think that something is gonna go haywire or somethin’. But that’s always brought on by the police. Always, you know.
Question: You say that this is a success. But, there’s 300,000 people isn’t that pretty large to really be a success.
Jimi Hendrix: It sure is, and I’m glad it is a success. Pardon?
Question: Anything you wanna say?
Jimi Hendrix: “Anything I wanna say? “Yeah,I’ can hardly wait ’til the gig comes,’ cause I’m more conformable with a guitar in front of people.
Jimi Hendrix: This whole thing is done in the benefit of UBA. And we hope to do some more gigs, for it, you know some more benefits. Matter of fact we’re trying to stress also that music should be done outside in a festival type of way. Just like they do it anywhere else. And like, if they can,uh, have more gigs like this in Harlem. Where you play outside, for instance three days, and the fourth day you play half the day outside, for instance ,and maybe the other time in the Apollo, four shows or whatever, you know. ‘Cause a lot of kids in the ghetto, or whatever you want to call it, you know, don’t have the money to travel across country, to see these different festivals, what they call festivals. I mean, seven dollars is a lot of money. So, ah, I think, more groups that are supposed to be considered heavy groups should contribute more to this cause.
Question: Can we ask you what your thoughts may be after getting in quite late?
Jimi Hendrix: Yeah,well uh,yeah,well I was pretty tired,you know.Very tired.
Question: Why did you play the ‘Star Spangled Banner’ in your set?
Jimi Hendrix: Oh, because we’re all Americans. We’re all Americans ,aren’t we? It was written and played in a very beautiful, what they call beautiful state. Nice inspiring ,you heart throbs and you say, “great I’m American.”But
nowadays when we play it, we don’t play it to take away all these greatness that America is supposed to have. We play it the way the air is in America today. The air is slightly static, isn’t it? So when we played…Was what? Pardon?
Question: With all the bad reports about drugs. If it was held in the same place next year would you appear again?
Jimi Hendrix: What? You mean the festival?
Question: Yes. “Held in the same place..
Jimi Hendrix: “Yeah! I love to do it.But, ah, the drug scene is gonna be a little different by that time anyway.Everybody is gonna know the truth about that. By that time (laughter in the room). By that time. Just like Harlem is gonna have beautiful round buildings by that, you know. In comparison with that time ,you know, by that time too.
Question: What is your comment on uh..drug use at the festival?
Jimi Hendrix: I don’t know. Well some people believe that they have to, you know, do this or do that to get into the music. I have no opinions at all. “Different strokes for different folks”, Sly & The Family Stone, I think said that
(laughter in the room).
Question: How do you think the benefit you’re gonna do in Harlem will be compared to the Woodstock festival?
Jimi Hendrix: I don’t know I might be living in the wrong time ,but I don’t go by comparison just go by the truthness or the falseness of the whole thing. The intentions of, whatever it might be. Forget about comparing that’s where we make our biggest mistake. They put it on TV ,didn’t they? Talkin’ bout the “yes and no’s” what’s the actual length of..,you know. It’s the same thing with these festivals, and these gatherings hope it happens in art,I hope it happens, you know, community sports, whatever, you know.
Question: Why the United Block Association?
Jimi Hendrix: Pardon?
Question: Why did you pick the United Block Association?
Jimi Hendrix: It’s a start man.You what’s wrong with it?..what’s wrong with it.(Q:says:Beautiful)
Question: Do you think, that uh, this kind of assembly, uh ,marks a change in American culture?
Jimi Hendrix: It been some changes marked. Even before the times of King, Dr. Luther King,you know,it’s been a whole lot of changes. But some people after the ah excitement, or the backwash of the change slows down they say,”yeah, that was groovy. Let’s see ,what else can we feast upon now?”, you know. One of them things. It’s whole lot a changes happening, but now it’s time for all these changes to connect.