On September 16, 1970, Eric Burdon and the band War were in the midst of a residency at the legendary London jazz club, Ronnie Scott’s.
On that particular night, there was a special guest in the club, who – impressed with the band – had a strong urge to get up and jam with them, an urge he soon acted upon. That guest? One James Marshall Hendrix.
Audio from Burdon, War, and Hendrix's subsequent renditions of "Mother Earth" and "Tobacco Road" – Hendrix's final onstage appearance of any kind before his death two days later, at the age of 27 – has circulated on the internet for a number of years, but the quality of these bootlegs has generally left much to be desired.
Now, audio from that magical performance has been remastered for inclusion in Ronnie’s, an upcoming documentary on the history of Ronnie Scott’s.
You can check out an excerpt of the performance – complete with commentary from Howard E. Scott, War's then-electric guitar player, and Bill Baker, the fan who recorded the performance on reel-to-reel tape – below.
In the video, Howard E. Scott recalls his distinct memory of seeing Hendrix in the crowd, guitar already in hand.
“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 document of Hendrix blowing one final crowd away with his playing.
"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 also features previously unseen live footage of Ella Fitzgerald, Miles Davis, Nina Simone, and many more jazz legends. It was directed by Oliver Murray, and is set for a February 11 release in theaters and online, via Greenwich Entertainment.
You can see the film's full trailer above.
Jackson is an Associate Editor at GuitarWorld.com and GuitarPlayer.com. He’s been writing and editing stories about new gear, technique and guitar-driven music both old and new since 2014, and has also written extensively on the same topics for Guitar Player. Elsewhere, his album reviews and essays have appeared in Louder and Unrecorded. Though open to music of all kinds, his greatest love has always been indie, and everything that falls under its massive umbrella. To that end, you can find him on Twitter crowing about whatever great new guitar band you need to drop everything to hear right now.
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