Flashback: Jimi Hendrix ‘Star Spangled Banner’ Guitar Solo at Woodstock ’69

Youtube / Eduardo Dyablo

Hendrix’s Psychedelic Salute To The U.S.

Jimi Hendrix’s performance at Woodstock featured a killer rendition of the Star Spangled Banner that sounded almost nothing like the version we grew up with. Like everything else Jimi did, he did it his own way – saluting the nation that produced one of the finest musicians to ever draw breath while still staying true to the counterculture that made him a household name. For this iconic performance, he used copious amounts of amplifier feedback, distortion, and sustain to replicate the sounds made by rockets and bombs.

Although political pundits described his interpretation as a statement against the Vietnam War, three weeks later Hendrix explained its meaning: “We’re all Americans…it was like ‘Go America!’ We play it the way the air is in America today. The air is slightly static, see.”

Hendrix and Woodstock: Three Little Known Facts about the Performance That Defined the ’60s

  • Hendrix performed an encore at Woodstock, a rarity. He almost never performed encores, but at Woodstock, despite the vanishing crowd, he did.
  • The Star Spangled Banner was not played on its own – it was part of a medley lasting over half an hour, one of the longest to date.
  • It was the only Hendrix show that included a second guitarist. Larry Lee backed up Hendrix on a number of songs.

It seems as if everyone had an opinion about what was going on during that time. And, at Woodstock… well I’m sure everyone agreed with Jimi’s impassioned take on the song.