The Reason Why Jimi Hendrix’s National Anthem Performance Was Important To American History
via The Music Forever/YouTube
His Way of Protesting
Jimi Hendrix’s rendition of “The Star-Spangled Banner” at Woodstock Festival in 1969 may be legendary but it was also controversial. What he did to the National Anthem was truly something else. He performed for less than half the original number of attendees but he still ripped it like there’s no tomorrow.
At the time, he was one of the highest paid rockstars but even so, people were starting to leave before he even began his “Star-Spangled Banner” performance.
Contrary to popular belief, it wasn’t the first time he played it. The song’s been in his set list for months. He sometimes shortened or extended it and he even recorded it in the studio, then released after his death on the compilation album Rainbow Bridge.
In 1969, musicians continued to churn out protest songs against the Vietnam War. And for Jimi Hendrix, he didn’t say anything. Instead, he let his guitar do the talking. It was his way of protesting the unnecessary violence that led to thousands of lost lives.
The fact that Hendrix chose to do what was deemed unconventional spoke volumes of what his version truly meant. Those who strayed from how the National Anthem should be played received backlash because they were considered disrespectful. Jimi Hendrix knew all of that but he still pushed on with his own rendition.
And when he appeared on The Dick Cavett Show, the host accused him of being unorthodox. Hendrix responded by saying, “It’s not unorthodox, I thought it was beautiful.”