Hen­drix show was Ex­pe­ri­ence never to be for­got­ten at club

Gloucestershire Echo - - NOSTALGIA - By ROBIN BROOKS

Jimi Hen­drix was elo­quent, ob­vi­ously in­tel­li­gent and very po­lite, quite at odds with his ap­pear­ance re­ally, which was quite wild Mike Ed­wards

HEY Joe was in the top 10 best sell­ing records chart for the third week in a row when Jimi Hen­drix, with The Ex­pe­ri­ence, ar­rived in Chel­tenham to play a one-night stand this week in 1967.

The venue was the Blue Moon club and any­one who re­mem­bers the place will tell you it was found on the top floor of the build­ing that then was home to Bur­ton’s the tai­lors.

Cramped for space and in those days thick with cig­a­rette smoke, the club had a small bar and an even smaller stage.

The ceil­ing was so low that when The Who played there, Roger Dal­trey could not swing his mi­cro­phone and Pete Townsend had to curb his wind­milling right arm for fear of tak­ing out the over­head light­bulbs with his plec­trum hand.

Many per­form­ers on the brink of in­ter­na­tional su­per­star­dom played the Blue Moon.

El­ton John, Rod Ste­wart, Long John Baldry, David Bowie, Eric Clap­ton, Fleetwood Mac, The Yard­birds and John May­all all had to lug their equip­ment up the flights of stairs to reach the pokey lit­tle club, usu­ally drip­ping with con­den­sa­tion and of­ten aflame with ex­cite­ment.

But there was a spe­cial buzz about Jimi Hen­drix.

In­no­va­tive mu­si­cian­ship and flam­boy­ant show­man­ship had brought the Amer­i­can gui­tarist to the pub­lic’s at­ten­tion.

This was the third date of his first UK tour and there was cer­tainly some­thing spe­cial about the sound he coaxed from his white Fender Stra­to­caster, whether pluck­ing the strings with his teeth or in the more con­ven­tional man­ner.

No tick­ets were sold in ad­vance. So from 6pm on­wards a queue of peo­ple de­ter­mined to see and hear Mr Hen­drix be­gan to form.

By 7pm it stretched from the door of the Blue Moon, along High Street, past The Con­ti­nen­tal Bar and half­way down Re­gent Street.

The club’s ca­pac­ity was 250 peo­ple, but health and safety had not been in­vented back then.

And, of course, the man­age­ment did not want to dis­ap­point fans as much as it did want to make a killing on ticket sales.

The up­shot was that the Blue Moon was many times more crammed than usual.

Jimi Hen­drix was paid £40 for the gig, a fee split three ways with Noel Red­ding, the bass player, and Mitch Mitchell, drum­mer of the Ex­pe­ri­ence.

The pho­to­graphs of Jimi Hen­drix at the Blue Moon club you see here were taken by the late Mike Char­ity.

They ap­pear in Mike’s book, Chel­tenham Peo­ple and Places 1960s to 1980s, pub­lished in 2001 by Tem­pus.

In the book Mike wrote: “I re­mem­ber read­ing some­where in the mid-1960s that the Bea­tles most-ad­mired ex­po­nent of the guitar was a cer­tain Jimi Hen­drix, a mu­si­cian rel­a­tively un­known in this coun­try and to me, at the time.

“A lit­tle later in the What’s On col­umns in Chel­tenham it was an­nounced that he was ap­pear­ing at the Blue Moon.

“Hen­drix had sud­denly be­come a big name but had been booked by the club in good time.

“De­spite his grow­ing fame he hon­oured the con­tract and turned up to play a storm­ing per­for­mance in this tiny, crowded club in a for­mer bil­liards hall above the gents’ out­fit­ters. I was the only pho­tog­ra­pher there.”

Also present at the per­for­mance was Mike Ed­wards, who later told The Echo: “I was a friend of Bill Reid, one of the own­ers of the Blue Moon and af­ter the gig he asked me if I’d drive Jimi Hen­drix to Lans­down rail­way sta­tion as he had a train to catch.

“He was play­ing in Stock­port the fol­low­ing night.

“Our ears were still ring­ing. It was much louder than any­thing we’d heard at the Blue Moon be­fore and a type of mu­sic we weren’t pre­pared for. Some­thing new and dif­fer­ent.

“I car­ried Jimi’s bag and guitar case down the stairs and he got into the front pas­sen­ger seat of my old Land Rover with a fab­ric roof that leaked and had hay and straw all over the place.

“At Lans­down sta­tion we learned the train was half an hour late, so we went onto the plat­form and sat chat­ting.

“Jimi Hen­drix was elo­quent, ob­vi­ously in­tel­li­gent and very po­lite, quite at odds with his ap­pear­ance re­ally, which was quite wild.

“The train came and he thanked us again for the lift, then as he waved good­bye he handed me all the change he had in his pocket, about £5 I think – and dis­ap­peared off into the night”.

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