Band of Gypsys: Band of Gypsys – [Record 45]
Band of Gypsys: is the eponymous live album by the blues rock band that Jimi Hendrix formed after the dissolution of the Jimi Hendrix Experience. Hendrix is backed by Billy Cox and Buddy Miles. Songs were recorded at the Fillmore East on two separate nights (December 31, 1969, and January 1, 1970), totaling four concerts, with songs from the final two appearing on the album. Produced by Hendrix and released just six months before his death in 1970, this was the last album he authorized, and the only Hendrix-authorized album to be released on Capitol Records (in the US). Band of Gypsys reached number five in the US and number six in the UK.
1. Who Knows.
2. Machine Gun.
4. Power of Soul.
5. Message of Love.
6. We Gotta Live Together.
History: After Hendrix disbanded the Jimi Hendrix Experience in early 1969, he formed Gypsy Sun and Rainbows to fulfill the contract for the Experience to play Woodstock. Bassist Billy Cox (who had played with Hendrix while they were in the army) had been rehearsing and playing with Hendrix since April, but the band was short-lived.
With Cox and his drummer friend Buddy Miles, Hendrix next formed the Band of Gypsys, this time to fulfill his obligation to produce an LP of new material for Ed Chalpin, to be released on the Capitol label. Hendrix, in interviews as early as March 1969, had already mentioned a “jam” album to be titled Band of Gypsys. Hendrix also mentioned in his introduction at Woodstock that “Band of Gypsys” was an alternative name for the group performing there.
They recorded a single “Stepping Stone” (b/w “Izabella”) for Reprise, which was quickly withdrawn after its release. They also recorded some studio material, and several finished tracks, some of which have been released on First Rays of the New Rising Sun and elsewhere. They made their live debut at the Fillmore East on New Year’s Eve, 1969, for a series of four shows spread over two nights.
The Fillmore East concerts featured mostly new songs, as the songs for the Band of Gypsys LP would have to be original due to a recent judgment against him in a contractual suit. This performance was captured using the then new portable Sony Portapak B&W video camera and open-reel 1/2″ videotape recorder, from two different angles.
In some markets, including the UK, the album was released with a cover photograph that featured dolls of Hendrix, Brian Jones, Bob Dylan and British DJ John Peel, an early supporter of Hendrix.
Due to the demands of four sets over two days, the band needed a lot of material and played the Experience-era favorites “Wild Thing”, “Hey Joe”, “Purple Haze”, “Voodoo Child (Slight Return)”, “Foxy Lady”, “Fire”, and “Stone Free” to fill out the sets. Nearing the end of the fourth set, Hendrix said, “We’re just trying to figure out something to play, but we only know about six songs right now…seven…nine.” He then launched into a version of “Voodoo Child (Slight Return)”. “Foxy Lady” was included on the 1991 European/Japanese re-release (details below). Furthermore, “Wild Thing”, “Voodoo Child (Slight Return)” and “Stone Free” can be heard on Live at the Fillmore East.
After a disastrous show at Madison Square Garden on January 28, 1970, where Hendrix insulted a woman in the audience, played just two songs (“Who Knows” and “Earth Blues”) and then left the stage, Band of Gypsys was disbanded.
A documentary entitled Band of Gypsys: Live at the Fillmore East was released on DVD in 1999. It focused on the album and Hendrix’s performances at the Fillmore during New Year’s Eve 1969, and New Year’s Day 1970. It contains the original half-inch open-reel black and white video footage shot by a fan at the concerts, and interviews with people that were involved in Hendrix at the time.