By Damian Fanelli | Photo: Allan Herr/EMP Museum (provided)
On September 30, Experience Hendrix L.L.C. and Legacy Recordings will release Machine Gun: The Fillmore East First Show 12/31/69, an album that fully—and finally—documents the debut performance of Jimi Hendrix’s short-lived Band of Gypsys.
The band—Hendrix, Billy Cox and Buddy Miles—played four shows at the Fillmore East in New York City, two on New Year’s Eve 1969 and two on New Year’s Day 1970. Never before has the first of these sets been available in its entirety. The album was produced by Janie Hendrix, Eddie Kramer and John McDermott, the same team that has overseen every official Hendrix release since 1995.
In the exclusive clip below, Kramer—Hendrix’s primary recording engineer throughout his lifetime—and Miles discuss the first New Year’s Eve show, stopping to focus on Jimi’s performance of one song in particular—the extra-powerful “Machine Gun.”
“I looked out in the audience,” Cox says in the clip. “As far as I can see, maybe 10 or 15 rows, people were in awe. Like they were frozen in time, thinking, this is unique, we’ve never heard anything like it. Jimi was doing some playing that he didn’t do when we rehearsed it, Buddy was doing some playing that he didn’t do when we rehearsed it, and I just joined in. We were all on another vibe.”
Machine Gun: The Fillmore East First Show 12/31/69 documents the first of the group’s four legendary Fillmore East concerts. The set includes “Earth Blues,” “Ezy Ryder,” “Stepping Stone,” “Burning Desire” and “Machine Gun”—none of which had ever before been issued on disc. Moreover, nearly all of the group’s material had never been performed before an audience.
“We decided we couldn’t do any songs that had already been released,” Cox says. “We wanted to give them something different. So we went at the project in a joyous, creative posture and ultimately developed the repertoire of the Band of Gypsys.
“We had two shows New Years Eve and two shows New Years Day. 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. You had Jimi Hendrix, a drummer who had been with the Electric Flag and Wilson Pickett, and I was the new kid on the block.”
Machine Gun: The Fillmore East First Show 12/31/69 was mixed from the original 1-inch eight-track master tapes and mastered by Bernie Grundman and will be released on CD, 2 LP 180 gram vinyl, high-resolution SACD and digitally. The album is available for pre-order on CD here and on vinyl here. You can see the complete track list and album cover below.
Machine Gun: The Fillmore East First Show 12/31/69 Track List:
1. Power of Soul
2. Lover Man
3. Hear My Train A Comin’
6. Machine Gun
8. Ezy Ryder
9. Bleeding Heart
10. Earth Blues
11. Burning Desire