Hendrix followed Are You Experienced with Axis: Bold As Love. By 1968, Hendrix had taken

greater control over the direction of his music; he spent considerable time working the consoles in the

studio, with each turn of a knob or flick of the switch bringing clarity to his vision. [However] throughout

1968, the demands of touring and studio work took its toll on the group. In 1969 the Experience

disbanded.

        The summer of 1969 brought emotional and musical growth to Jimi Hendrix. In playing the

Woodstock Music & Art Fair in August 1969, Jimi joined forces with an eclectic ensemble called Gypsy

Sun & Rainbows featuring Jimi Hendrix, Mitch Mitchell, Billy Cox, Juma Sultan, and Jerry Velez. The

Woodstock performance was highlighted by the renegade version of "Star Spangled Banner," which

brought the mud-soaked audience to a frenzy.

        Nineteen sixty-nine also brought about a new and defining collaboration featuring Jimi Hendrix on

guitar, Billy Cox on bass and Electric Flag drummer Buddy Miles on drums.

Performing as the Band of Gypsys, this trio launched a series

of four New Year's performances on December 31, 1969 and

January 1, 1970. Highlights from these performances were

compiled and later released on the quintessential

Band of Gypsys album in mid-1970 and the expanded

Hendrix: Live At The Fillmore East in 1999.

        When they hit their first notes at the Fillmore East, remembered bassist Billy Cox, “we didn’t know

what to expect from the audience and the audience didn’t know what to expect from us, but from the time

we hit that first note, they were in awe” because the band combined rock and rhythm and blues (R&B)

together to form a unique sound (
Band of Gypsys album notes). Furthermore on the Band of Gypsys

album, Hendrix’s style of playing can be heard as paying homage to his influences. For example, “in it, B.

B. King-style guitar lines and elements of Muddy Waters’ style (signature riff figures) and Wes

Montgomery’s mannered approached (octaves and other double stops) are fused with the rock idiom.

Listen especially to ‘Machine Gun’ and ‘Power of Soul.’ Echoes of Little Richard, albeit faint, can be

heard on the ‘Changes’ vocal.” (Floyd 1995:202).

        During the time of the Band of Gypsys' formation, African Americans were in turmoil, fighting for

their civil rights. On one hand, there were the Black Panthers who in October 1966 proclaimed in their 10-

Point Platform and Program that they wanted;

Freedom...power to determine the destiny of [the] black Community...full employment, decent

housing, education, and the liberation of all black prisoners from all prisons and jails. And [their]

major political objective, a United-Nations-supervised plebiscite to be held throughout the black

colony in which only black colonial subjects will be allowed to participate, for the purpose of

determining the will of the black people as to their national destiny
(Draper 1970:100).

        At the same time the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee in 1966, with its new chairman,

Stokely Carmichael, was demanding for blacks to gain control of the black ghettoes in order to obtain

“black self-determination and black self-identity...to enter the open society” [to change] “local or

nationwide patterns of oppression-instead of from weakness” (Draper 1970:122). Memories of Freedom

Summer including sit-ins, bus boycotts, and getting blacks registered to vote, all appeared as themes in

soul music. [In fact at the time] soul music essentialized African Americans' efforts in gaining their

freedom from societal oppression, and in the process helped black people to gain a collective Afro-

centric identity together.

        When reorganizing his band from having two Caucasian guys playing with him, to having two black

guys playing with him, Jimi realized that something was missing from his music, a black audience. Since

black music artists were singing about the soul and essence of black people, where did that leave Jimi

and his rock 'n' roll music which was labeled as experimental, psychedelic, and white? Jimi was left

without a noticeable black audience.

        On the one hand some blacks now took a notice to Jimi because he now had his friend Buddy

Miles play drums for him. Blacks knew Buddy Miles for his song “Them Changes,” and had only heard

about Jimi Hendrix. But when finding out that Jimi and Buddy were playing together, blacks began to

listen to the Band of Gypsys. As said in
Live at the Fillmore East documentary, more blacks will listen to

the
Band of Gypsys album, then branch out to Jimi’s other albums. [Going into further detail about this

subject], Eddie Kramer, Jimi’s studio engineer said, “blacks like the Band of Gypsys because of its

funkiness, [and] earthiness.” Jimi felt the Band of Gypsys was necessary to help himself become

connected to black people, instead of the alienation he felt from them.
Text Guide

Blue text comes from (http://jimi-hendrix.com/biography.html)

Green text comes from Shalondra Brown's, From Black To White, Crossing Over in Music


Band Of Gypsys: Billy Cox (Left), Jimi Hendrix (Center), Buddy Miles (Right)