It was Hendrix vs Clapton. And there was only one winner.
Jack Bruce (Cream bassist): I was in a pub in Charing Cross Road, and this guy came up to me and said: “Hi, my name’s Jimi Hendrix. I wanna sit in with your band.” Which was practically unheard of to us. So I said: “Yeah, it’s all right with me if it’s all right with the other guys.” We walked over to the gig…
Eric Clapton (Cream guitarist): He was very, very flash, even in the dressing room. He stood in front of the mirror, combing his hair, and asked if he could play a couple of numbers.
***Neil Slaven (record producer): ***We didn’t expect anything unusual that night, until Clapton stepped up to the mic and said: “We’d like to introduce you to a friend of our from New York City.” Then this guy walked on stage looking for all the world like nothing less than a black Bob Dylan, with this huge mop of hair.
Nick Mason (Pink Floyd): When Jimi Hendrix came on stage it tipped right over the edge. It was the musical moment of my life.
Eric Clapton: He did Killing Floor, a Howlin’ Wolf number I’ve always wanted to play, but which I’ve never really had the complete technique to do. Ginger didn’t like it and Jack didn’t like it. They’d never heard the song before. It was just… well, he just stole the show.
Neil Slaven: I will never forget the look of absolute shock on Clapton’s face. Here was this total unknown, using techniques that Clapton had not the faintest inkling of.
Chas Chandler (Hendrix’s manager): Clapton stood there and his hands dropped off the guitar. He lurched off the stage. I thought: “Oh God, what’s happening now?” I went backstage and he was trying to get a match to a cigarette. I said: ‘Are you all right?’ And he replied: ‘Is he that fucking good?’ He had heard ten bars at most.
Kathy Etchingham (Jimi’s girlfriend): He walked off stage with this smirk. He knew exactly what he was doing.
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