An audio clip of Jimi Hendrix’s final interview has been released as part of the PBS animated series Blank on Blank.
The interview took place on September 11, 1970, five days before Hendrix’s death.
Keith Altham, the journalist who interviewed him, spoke with Jimi a total of eight times. On this occasion, he recalled Hendrix as “rambling” and showing signs of ill health. “He had been going through a difficult period with drugs and stress and tension,” Altham recalled.
Five days earlier, Hendrix had completed the Cry of Love Tour, with bassist Billy Cox and former Jimi Hendrix Experience drummer Mitch Mitchell. The European leg of the tour, which began August 30, had been particularly disastrous. On September 2, in Aarhus, Denmark, Jimi quit playing after three songs and abandoned the performance. On September 6, as he took the stage at the Isle of Fehmarn Love and Peace Festival, in Germany, the audience booed in response to his canceling his previous night’s show on account of rain. The tour ended when Cox was unknowingly slipped a hit of acid and became seriously ill.
Despite the stress of the previous weeks, Hendrix sounds relaxed during the interview—perhaps the effect of the Mateus rosé wine he was drinking—and at times playful.
In the clip, he talks about the first time he smashed a guitar onstage, shedding his gaudy stage wear, writing “psychedelic” music, and the emerging hard rock and heavy metal.
“Music is getting too heavy,” he says, “almost to the state of unbearable.
“I have this one little saying: When things get too heavy, just call me helium, the lightest known gas to man.”