When I first met Angus Wynne some 20 years ago, when I was at the Dallas Times Herald, this photo was on his desk -- a most impressive introduction. I remember asking him: "Were you friends with Jimi Hendrix?" But I didn't remember his answer. So I called him this afternoon and asked again.
No, Angus says, they were not friends, not really. Angus first met Hendrix when he was a shy sideman in Little Richard's band, back when Jimi was known as Maurice James. Little Richard was a frequent booking at Angus's long-gone, far-away club Soul City -- a house-record-setter, matter of fact, Angus says. He recalls one '67 gig in particular: He was walking around backstage when Richard told him to come into his dressing room. There was a familiar face on the teevee set: Shouted Richard, "That's Maurice!" By then, Hendrix was well on his way to immortality.
Not long after that, on February 16, 1968, Hendrix landed at Love Field Airport, which is where this picture was taken. Till this evening I'm not sure I knew that. Angus explains its origins thusly:
I got a call from a girl I was dating, who was a stewardess with Braniff. There were actually two girls I knew who were on the flight. But my girlfriend called and said, "Jimi Hendrix is on this flight, and we're going to Love Field. Why don't you come out and visit?" I said, "Great." So I walked out onto to the tarmac, which is where that shot was taken -- right after he walked down off the stairs from the plane. He said, "Hey, man, where are we?" He didn't know which town he was in. [Angus laughs.] But he was awful nice. I walked back with him and the guys in Soft Machine, who were opening the show. I helped them through baggage, and they invited us out to the show.
Which brings us to this week's rock-and-roll adios: The Jimi Hendrix Experience at the Music Hall at Fair Park on February 16, 1968.
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I asked Angus what he recalls of the concert. A little, he says. He remember hanging out backstage, where Hendrix paced the dressing room -- "high," Angus says, "excited." He continues: "Seemed like he broke a couple of things. I don't recall what they were. He was in a good mood, though -- a real cheerful kinda guy."
He recalls a concert hall filled with smoke -- "purely for lighting purposes," he says, laughing. Soft Machine in particular had an astounding light show, he says. But, he reminds, back in those days audience stayed in their seats. "It was," he says, "a very mellow, sit-down audience."
Hendrix and the band, of course, were anything but as evidenced by an astounding audience recording that has survived the distortion of history. At one point Hendrix even jokes about how, since he and the band play so softly, they need to make sure they're in tune. Hendrix scholar Chuck Dixon offers this account of the concert's place in the history -- as in, "Show opener is the first documented live performance of 'Are You Experienced.'"
I asked Angus: Had he heard the show since that night in '68? Absolutely not. Not till today.