Jimi Hendrix’s final public performance has long been the stuff of legend.
On September 16, 1970, Hendrix appeared onstage unannounced at the London jazz club Ronnie Scott’s alongside his friend Eric Burdon and the band War, assisting with their explosive renditions of the blues/folk standards Mother Earth and Tobacco Road.
Tragically, Hendrix passed away less than 48 hours later, on September 18. He was 27 years old.
Recordings of this final onstage jam with War have circulated on YouTube for a number of years, but now, they have been remastered for inclusion in Ronnie’s, an upcoming documentary on the history of Ronnie Scott’s.
You can hear an excerpt of the remastered audio from that fateful night – complete with commentary from Howard E. Scott, War’s electric guitar player at the time, and Bill Baker, the fan who recorded the performance on reel-to-reel tape – below.
Recalling how it all went down that evening, Howard E. Scott said that he saw Hendrix in the crowd, Stratocaster already in hand, from the stage.
“I noticed [Hendrix’s] eyes were just so white and wide open,” he says in the video. “He was ready to play. We started jamming a song called Mother Earth, it was this hardcore blues and Jimi lit into a guitar solo. Me and Jimi were just cutting the place up. We were tearing it up, me and him, back and forth.”
Taken from Baker’s original tape and edited to bring Hendrix’s playing to the fore, the recording is a remarkable final document of one of the greatest guitar players of all time doing what he did best.
“That night at Ronnie’s,” Howard Scott says in the video, “my feet weren’t touching the ground.
“The next night, we got word that after the set, Jimi had died,” he continued. “It was a terrible thought right there that I was the last guitarist to play with him.”
Ronnie’s was directed by Oliver Murray, and is set for a February 11 release in theaters and online, via Greenwich Entertainment. It also features previously unseen live footage of Ella Fitzgerald, Miles Davis, Nina Simone and many more jazz legends.
You can see the film’s full trailer above.