24-january-1967 Jimi Hendrix Experience
DATE: Thursday, 24th, January, 1967
LOCATION: 90 Wardour Street
MAIN ACT: Jimi Hendrix Experience
BAND MEMBERS: Jimi Hendrix (guitar, vocals), Noel Reading (bass), Mitch Mitchell (drums)
SUPPORTING ACT: Syn
BAND MEMBERS: Steve Nardelli (vocals), Peter Banks (guitar), Chris Squire (bass, vocals), Andrew Jackman (keyboards), Gunnar Hakanarssen (drums)
This was the first of just four appearances of Jimi Hendrix Experience at the Marquee, but the guitarist took the club by storm and broke all the records of attendance attracting 1,400 people and the queue ran from Wardour to Shaftesbury Avenue all the way to Cambridge Circus. This show has remained as one of the most important moments in the history of the club and rock music. By word of mouth, every guitarist in the city had heard about the wonders of this American black guitarist and was there. The show was preceded by a photocall.
Memories on this night:
"I didn't enjoy the night at all because Syn had to play two sets and we had, you know, a lot of pretty famous people in the audience and we had to come on and do one set, go off, and then come back and do another set, which was a terrible thing to do because everybody certainly didn't come to see us! Well, a few people did but not many, everybody came to see Jimi Hendrix. So I didn't find it very enjoyable at all. I think Syn played O.K. and Hendrix was very good. I had already see him play a few times and Jimi was very nervous about the whole thing, he was asking me, you know: 'Who's out here?' (laugh). Because the audience was right after the stage, The Marquee was never a big club, so you could see the first ten rows of people. And you could probably see everybody, you know, The Beatles were there and a lot of guitarists were there...
For me, it was strange because I was the only other guitar player playing, apart from Hendrix, but actually it didn't really bother me that much. I think we had played The Marquee Club a few times and really was a bit of a tiresome gig to have to do. It was always very difficult to get in and out of the club because there was no... The Marquee dressing room was always behind to the left of the stage, and it was just a tiny, tiny room, more like a little narrow corridor. And everybody that played would share this room, and if we'd got out from the room we had to go through a big part of the audience if you wanted to the pub next door or even to the toilet. You would have to walk through some of the audience and it was very difficult to walk in and out because it was so full of people. So I remember it being very hard, very sweaty. The Marquee had no air-conditioning at all, it's amazing that nobody ever died!."
(Peter Banks, interviewed by TheMarqueeClub.net, January 2007)
"That was my dream, to play at the Marquee. I never thought any further than that. Everybody wanted to play there. In the end the Syn got bored with it because we were there every week. We supported Jimi Hendrix there on its busiest night ever, in 1967. It was a very peculiar gig. All the Beatles were there there and the Rolling Stones, Eric Clapton and Jeff Beck and every other guitar player in town came along and we had to play one set to all these people! They were waiting for Jimi Hendrix, but we had to play once, come off and then play another set. So people were going 'Well thank God if they've gone'. Then we came back on again! It wasn't very nice for us but it was great meeting Hendrix."
(Peter Banks of the Syn, "Close to the Edge" by Chris Welch, 1999)
"We started at the Marquee as a support group and eventually got the Tuesday night residency as support group to the big names of the day. Here we supported some of the legends of rock music, Pink Floyd, The Who, Cream and, most famous of all, Jimi Hendrix. Jimi Hendrix only played at the Marquee once and it is considered the greatest night in the history of the Club. There was a record attendance including everyone from the Beatles, Rolling Stones, Eric Clapton and just about every other rock star you could think of in the audience. For the first and only time in Marquee history to my knowledge, Syn played two consecutive sets and Hendrix came on at the end to do one final set. I remember sharing the tiny, cramped Marquee dressing room with his group and none could leave because of the huge crowd in the Club. Hendrix was very friendly and laid back and, when he played, he was unbelievably good and there is no doubt for me that he is the greatest rock guitarist of all time."
(Steve Nardelli of the Syn, Alt.music.yes FAQ interview by Henry Potts, Nov 2003)
"I saw the second gig he (Jimi Hendrix) ever did in this country. I'd been told that this guy was fantastic and every guitar player in town was there. Townshend, Jeff Beck, Jimmy Page were all there in this tiny room that held probably two hundred people at the most. Hendrix was doing things that most people could do, but not only was he doing them much better...he was making it look easy. And the fact that he was left handed made it awkward to tell what he was playing.
TM: You needed a mirror to figure it out!
PB: Yeah, he was highly proficient. And even in those days he looked very unusual, very imposing. He had a lot of charisma on stage or when he just walked into the room - although he was quite a shy guy. He was the kind of guy that you see and you say, "That guy's a star." He had that whole vibe about him.
TM: The gig where you opened for him - wasn't that some kind of showcase?
PB: Yeah, it didn't mean that much to us, because we had played the Marquee dozens of times. We played there every week so playing there was no big deal. The main difference was that night anybody who was anybody was there. The Beatles, The Rolling Stones and every guitar player within a hundred miles was there, so it was a star studded audience. The biggest problem with that gig was that we had to play two sets. So we would play, come off, get changed, dry off...it was incredibly hot in there, it was about 120 degrees. The guitar just wouldn't stay in tune.
TM: And your hands are sweaty...
PB: Yes and we came off and everybody is ready for Hendrix and then we came on and had to do another set. And we had only one roadie so after we had said our thank-yous, we had to creep back on stage and take our gear down.
TM: I seem to remember that Hendrix was asking how the crowd was and that you told him that it was a tough audience.
PB: The Marquee crowd was a tough one. London audiences are traditionally not easy to impress, because that's their attitude, "Okay, impress me." You'd have to jump through hoops of fire for them.".
(Peter Banks of the Syn, interview by Tim Morse, "Yes Stories" Jan 1995)