Jimi Hendrix reveals why he played 'The Star-Spangled Banner' at Woodstock

watch 05/07/2019

On 9th September in 1969, Jimi Hendrix appeared on the Dick Cavett Show to talk about why he performed America's national anthem during his performance at the legendary Woodstock Festival that took place a month prior.

I thought it was beautiful


Hendrix went on to say, "I'm an American, so I played it. They made me sing it in school, so it was a flashback."

Cavett went on to inform the audience that Hendrix once belonged to the 101st Airborne Division, which people should think about before sending hate mail to the legendary guitarist.

"When you mention the national anthem and talk about playing it in any unorthodox way, you immediately get a guaranteed percentage of hate mail," Cavett explained.

Hendrix cut off Cavett, claiming that his performance wasn't unorthodox. "I thought it was beautiful," he reminisced.

Watch his "Star-Spangled Banner" performance below.

Ironically, as good as the performance was, only a handful of people saw the performance live in person because many festival goers had left the venue by then. 

Hendrix wanted the performance to be his final act but he didn't anticipate playing on a Monday morning to an empty audience. The crowd went from "half a million strong" to a handful of hardcore fans with trash all over.

Years later, Cavett said, "I suppose I could have added that since we somehow acquired the most dismal, virtually unsingable dirge of a national anthem of any known nation, we should decorate Hendrix for turning it into music.".