For fans of the great guitarist, the last year in the life of Jimi Hendrix (1942-70) was still something of a mystery. Hendrix’s Experience, which with the release of Electric Ladyland (1968) reached a commercial peak, declared its breakup in early ’69.
Hendrix contemplated recording with Miles Davis later that year and even asked Paul McCartney to join in on bass.
In late ’69, in the New Year’s shows that made up the Band Of Gypsys album, Hendrix performed with Billy Cox on bass and Buddy Miles on drums.
But while Miles had his strengths as a drummer, with his overbearing vocals, he did not fit in with the band. Soon after, Hendrix brought Mitch Mitchell back into the band for studio sessions and performances with Experience Man.
In July’70, this included the live sets Hendrix performed in Hawaii.
As part of the Rainbow Bridge film project, Hendrix (with Cox and Mitchell) performed to a limited audience on Maui in his final appearances in the U.S.
And one of the most explosive works in the guitar master’s career is called Hendrix’s work on “Voodoo Child (Slight Return)”.
At his 1970 show in Maui, Jimi Hendrix soared on “Voodoo Child (Slight Return)” as only he could.
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“Voodoo Child (Slight Return),” which “Electric Ladyland,” closed, became one of Hendrix’s signature tracks almost immediately.
For extended guitar improvisation, the song is constructed, and the sound of Hendrix on the record is perhaps the purest expression of his work.
It could get even better at live shows.
Ace guitarist Joe Satriani sees it as the best recorded electric guitar work ever recorded. Satriani said through MusicRadar, “The whole song could be considered the holy grail of guitar expression and technique,” “It’s a beacon of humanity.”
Hendrix and his band launched into an uptempo version of “Voodoo Child (Slight Return).” at the Maui show in July’70. And he really got moving after Hendrix shredded his way through the intro, first verse and chorus. The sound engineers got a clear recording of his success, somehow.
Hendrix picks up pace at around 1:45, and words like “ecstatic” and “otherworldly” come to mind and sound out of place immediately.
He’s just past the point of God-likeness at 2:25.
And at 3:05, Hendrix brought himself to his knees with his playing, if the synchronisation of picture and sound is to be believed.
Mitch Mitchell’s drum part had to be resynchronized due to recording issues.
Although the image and sound of Hendrix seem to perfectly fit, the drumming of Mitchell is a different story. (Notice the sound of the fills that you don’t see him playing.) Engineer Eddie Kramer had to use recordings of Mitchell’s parts that the drummer made after the Maui gig for the release of Live in Maui (2020).
Kramer said, via the official Jimi Hendrix site, “Mitch put a tremendous amount of work into the overdubs,” “He was determined to fix what had suffered on the recordings from the 50-mile-an-hour winds because they were playing on the side of a freaking volcano!”
While one might get lost trying to understand the idea of the concert and the post-processing involved, the audio is interesting. In the last year of his life, Hendrix was looking for a new musical path.
But on Maui, he sounded close or at the height of his powers when he played “Voodoo Child (Slight Return),”