“Finding a live recording with Little Richard and Jimi Hendrix is akin to discovering a musical holy grail”: A rare live recording of Jimi Hendrix and Little Richard covering The Beatles is up for auction

Jimi Hendrix (left) and Little Richard performing onstage
(Image credit: Getty Images)

A recently released recording of Little Richard and The Upsetters – featuring a then-upstart guitarist named Jimi Hendrix – is up for auction and is expected to fetch over $45,000. 

At the time of writing, the recording has already surpassed the $40K mark, with a few hours of bidding time on the online auction remaining. 

Before Hendrix became a household name, he featured in Little Richard’s backing band, with the recording captured during their show at the Back Bay Theatre [formerly the Donnelly Theatre] in Boston in 1965. 

The band can be heard performing Lucille, Shake a Hand and a cover of The Beatles’ I Saw Her Standing There. 

For the most part, Hendrix toes the line with little signs of the signature extravagance he became idolized for, performing with a clean but thick guitar tone. 

Excitingly, the recording does feature a guitar solo from Hendrix, providing a brief showcase of the future star's emerging talents. 

The show was committed to a Scotch 190 reel-to-reel tape at 7.5 IPS by Boston radio personality Little Walter DeVenne. Until recently, it had remained part of DeVenne’s collection. 

“Hearing Jimi Hendrix attack the opening chords of I Saw Her Standing There makes your hair stand up,” says Bobby Livingston, the Executive Vice President of RR Auction. “Finding a live recording with both Little Richard and Jimi Hendrix is akin to discovering a musical holy grail.”

Incredibly, Jimi Hendrix was fired from the band. As revealed by Robert Penniman – Little Richard's brother and tour manager – in Charles White’s The Life and Times of Little Richard: The Authorised Biography, their hands were tied as another part of Hendrix’s famed personality began to present itself. 

“I fired Hendrix, who was using the name Maurice James all the time I knew him,” he says. “He was a damn good guitar player, but the guy was never on time.

“He was always late for the bus and flirting with the girls and stuff like that. It came to a head in New York, where we had been playing the Apollo and Hendrix missed the bus for Washington, DC. I finally got Richard to cut him loose.”

His stint in the band may have been brief, but the lessons learned during his tenure were vast, with the guitarist later saying, “I want to do with my guitar what Little Richard does with his voice.”

Little Richard would go on to praise Hendrix's talents as well, saying, “At times he used to make my big toe shoot up in my boot. He did it so good, he gave it all to you and that's what you want. 

“He didn't mind looking freaky – like I don't mind. I was doing it before he was and I knew when he saw me it gave him great confidence and recompence.”

For more information about the auction, visit RR Auction.

Phil Weller

A freelance writer with a penchant for music that gets weird, Phil is a regular contributor to ProgGuitar World, and Total Guitar magazines and is especially keen on shining a light on unknown artists. Outside of the journalism realm, you can find him writing angular riffs in progressive metal band, Prognosis, in which he slings an 8-string Strandberg Boden Original, churning that low string through a variety of tunings. He's also a published author and is currently penning his debut novel which chucks fantasy, mythology and humanity into a great big melting pot.