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The legendary Jimi Hendrix Experience and the day they played at DMU

The phenomenal Jimi Hendrix Experience – whose incendiary live performances single-handedly changed the course of rock 'n' roll history - appeared at De Montfort University Leicester (DMU) 50 years ago today.

The band – Jimi Hendrix, bassist Noel Redding and drummer Mitch Mitchell - appeared in Hawthorn Main Hall, which once stood in the middle of the Hawthorn Building, on Friday 24, February 1967, at a time when DMU was known as The Leicester Colleges of Art and Technology.

Thanks to www.jimihendrix-lifelines.net there is a poster (below) archived to prove Hendrix once played on the DMU campus:

 JIMI HENDRIX

1967 gig poster for Jimi Hendrix's appearance in Hawthorn Main Hall

According to archives sourced by Steve Chibnall, DMU’s Director of the Cinema and Television History (CATH) Research Centre, the Experience played a set lasting approximately one hour, and the price of admission was just six shillings – about £6 today. The band's debut release 'Hey Joe' was in the charts at the time.

The Jimi Hendrix Experience was paid £75 (£1,500) for their performance and Noel Redding is said to have remembered it in future years as a ‘good gig’ but with ‘bad sound’.

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Another story from the night says the support band, The Ebonites, failed to turn up so members of a local Leicester group, called The Warlocks - who had bought tickets to see Hendrix play - were pressed into service instead.

Hawthorn Hall’s entrance was through the Art Deco doors overlooking The Newarke and consisted of stalls and a balcony, with a total capacity of about 800. A lecture theatre now stands where the hall was.

Nick Hairs, a former student at Wyggeston Boys School, Leicester, remembers:

JIMI 1967 first MAIN

The American cover for Are You Experienced by Karl Ferris

“It was called the Colleges of Art and Technology in those days. The poster just says ‘Main Hall’ on it, and Jimi is spelt with two ‘m’s: ‘Jimmi’.

“I was working at the Bell Hotel during my catering college time, and I had to work as a waiter, and I had to work that night, and I finished about half past eight, I suppose.

“My friend Pete Martin came with me to the gig, and he worked at the Belmont Hotel on New Walk. We met up at the Town Arms [pub on Pocklington’s Walk], and from the Town Arms we went to the Magazine [a pub on Newarke Street] and I had a whisky in each pub – I had been dumped by my girlfriend at the time and it was also my mum’s birthday.

“I remember that Leicester played Forest the next day and I was pretty hung over and missed the match. But we got in to the Hawthorn Hall and Hendrix was already on and the over-riding song I remember was ‘Like a Rolling Stone’, because I’m a massive Bob Dylan fan. And to hear that song done like he was doing it was a revolution (sic). I can see it now. It wasn’t very packed, but he’d only just burst on the scene.’

JIMI 1967 second MAIN

The Jimi Hendrix Experience line-up - Hendrix, Redding and Mitchell

The Hendrix appearance topped an amazing five weeks for the students who were working on the Entertainments Committee of the time.

On 19 January super group Cream – made up of Eric Clapton, Ginger Baker and Jack Bruce -  Zoot Money, The Byrds and Shotgun Express, featuring Rod Stewart, were booked for the ‘Arts Ball’ at Granby Halls, a huge music venue that once stood behind Leicester Tigers’ main stand. It has since been demolished and a car park stands in its place.

Then Pink Floyd made their first visit to Leicester to play Hawthorn Hall on 10 February, before they had released their first record.

Were you there in 1967? Do you have one of the posters or photos from the historic Hendrix gig? Contact news@dmu.ac.uk

Posted on Friday 24th February 2017

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