Chinese whispers: Jimi Hendrix, fame and 'The Star Spangled Banner'

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Drawing on Halbwach’s notion of collective memory the paper reassess some of the key turning points in Hendrix’s legacy. Highlighting the contingent nature of Hendrix’s rise to fame through to its peak in 1968, the paper illustrates how, despite the fact that Hendrix continued to grow as a musician, from 1969 onwards his business and personal affairs were increasingly in disarray. In fact he was telling Rolling Stone in May of that year, that he needed to take a year off ("Hendrix's One Year Retirement Plan"). Secondly, I show that Hendrix’s Woodstock performance did not represent the high point of the festival either artistically or in terms of crowd numbers, and that rather than being regarded as iconic at the time, Hendrix’s rendering of the anthem was regarded as controversial by his opponents and as a theatrical display of music virtuosity by his supporters. I also demonstrate how Hendrix’s flirtation with the American anthem represented part of a wider cultural phenomenon at the time.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages13
Journal49th Parallel
Publication statusPublished - 2006
Externally publishedYes

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