In a Film about Jimi Hendrix July 4, 1970, Atlanta Concert
Hendrix Experience, LLC, recently licensed footage from the Harvey Richards Media Archive (HRMA) for an upcoming film that his estate is making about his July 4, 1970, concert in Atlanta, Georgia. The film is scheduled to air initially on Showtime this fall, 2015. The date is not yet set. He played the following songs in that concert:
In his brief life, Jimi Hendrix became an icon for a generation, which included me at age 26, and for many generations that followed. His lyrics still reverberate in my mind. “Are you experienced? Have you ever been experienced? Well, I have.” He died when he was 27 on September 18, 1970. I am still angry he died. We needed him so much. As a cultural figure, Jimi Hendrix embodied the spirit and wild creativity of those rebellious years. Being left handed myself, I marveled at the way he reversed the guitar to fit his own left-handedness. It seemed to me like a seamless transition to go from a street protest to my record player to listen to Jimi Hendrix wail away. And so, I am especially pleased to have footage of these street protests included in a film about him.
Hendrix and our protests were all one thing in my mind. He didn’t march with us, or anything like that. But he was in my head all the time. All these years later, the 1960’s cultural revolution has taken on a life of its own, separate from the political rebellion that almost unglued things back then and that opened society up enough to let Jimi Hendrix ascend to the heights that he has.
The licensed footage comes from peace demonstrations that took place in 1969 and 1970 in San Francisco against the war in Vietnam. You can see clips from that footage in “Faces of Vietnam Protest” which combines the images Harvey shot with excerpts from a talk by Martin Luther King, Jr in April 1967 in New York City to Clergy and Layman Concerned About Vietnam. More of the footage is included on the DVD and video on demand rental as an extra with “No Greater Cause” (1968), Harvey’s film about the protests against the war in Vietnam.
“A time comes when silence is betrayal,” Martin Luther King, Jr. had said.
The peace footage contained the shot (shown above) of a banner reading “Not One More Dead!” I don’t know if it will be a part of the Hendrix film, but it is a shot that reveals the relationship that my father established with the protesters he filmed. In 1969 and 1970 when he shot this footage, I was not in the Bay Area. However, before I went away in 1967 to graduate school in Wisconsin, I worked with him on many demonstrations that he filmed and I can guess just how this shot came about. Looking at the footage of that point in the march, you can see the banner approaching the camera, almost invisible, concealed by marchers in front of it as they walked along. Then, the banner appears with the marches cleared out from in front of it so he could photograph it.
Harvey had stopped the march, just briefly. He usually contacted the sponsoring peace movement organizations to let them know he would be filming and that he was friendly. Most of the press were not friendly and often evoked angry protests and obscene hand gestures from demonstrators. Harvey also made contact with the march monitors near him on the day he was filming. He parked on the street where the protesters would be marching by. He set up with his tripod and cameras on top of his vehicle on a special platform for just this purpose. He chose his spot carefully because, during the march, he would be immobilized by the crowd and the elaborate set up necessary to shoot film and photos with his Arriflex and Leica cameras. He got the monitors to stop the banner briefly while those in front of the banner kept walking. Then he got his shot, and the banner marched on.
This story is worth telling because it provides a glimpse into what it took to create the iconic historical images that he did. These images embody his relationship to his subjects. He filmed them to help the protest. He was a protester himself. And you can be sure that those demonstrators’ heads were filled with Jimi’s music as they marched by.