Why The BBC Banned Jimi Hendrix
Today on Rock N’ Roll True Stories they take a look at why the stuffy news organization the BBC banned Jimi Hendrix. Check out the full story below!
What’s going on my fellow rock n’ rollers. Don’t forget to hit the bell notification icon to be notified every time I put out a new video on my channel. Jimi Hendrix didn’t play by anyone’s rules and that included the BBC network. It seemed like a strange pairing given that the BBC was a network that had a stick up their ass while Jimi Hendrix represented the counterculture. It was a pairing that made TV history. Stay tuned to find out the full story.
In 1969 The Jimi Hendrix Experience was invited to come on the new primetime BBC Show Happening for Lulu. Lulu was a jack of all trades as she was a singer, actress, television personality and a businesswoman. She seemed to have a pretty good relationship with the BBC as she hosted several programs on the network during the 60’s.. While the BBC was a stuffy organization, they still wanted to capture an audience that was part of the growing counterculture movement. Lulu was a perfect choice for them as she was mild-mannered but friends with counter culture icons the Beatles. She wasn’t going to rock the boat.
Happening for Lulu would air during prime time just before the evening news and the show would play host to the country’s biggest and brightest musicians.
On January 4, 1969 the jimi hendrix experience would make an appearance on the show. The band had to adhere to the network’s strict rules which stipulated the band would only play two songs including Voodoo Child from their latest EP Electric Ladyland and his first UK hit, his cover of the song ‘Hey Joe’. The network also required that Jimi Hendrix’s band would play onstage with Lulu performing her hit single “to Sir with love.’ Hendrix wasn’t into the idea, but humoured the network.
According to bassist Noel Redding’s autobiography Are you Experienced Lulu would perform with the Jimi Hendrix experience as they were finishing up the song Hey Joe. Following that performance they would break into the Lulu’s hit song.
To deal with the stress of the situation, Redding said the band were “so straight it was only natural that we would try to combat that atmosphere by having a smoke in our dressing room. In our haste, the lump of hash got away and slipped down the sink drainpipe,” “I found a maintenance man and begged tools from him with the story of a lost ring. He was too helpful, offering to dismantle the drain for us. It took ages to dissuade him, but we succeeded in our task and had a great smoke.”
Also happening the same day as the show was that british supergroup Cream had just announced their break up. Bassist Jack Bruce happened to be watching the Lulu show that night.
The band went on and performed “Voodoo Child” as scheduled, but once Lulu introduced the band prior to playing Hey Joe, things went off the rails quickly as the Jimi Hendrix Experience went into their own jam that was full of feedback and a prelude to “Hey Joe,” but midway through the song, Hendrix stopped and announced “We’d like to stop playing this rubbish and dedicate a song to the Cream, regardless of what kind of group they may be in. We dedicate this to Eric Clapton, Ginger Baker and Jack Bruce.” The band played through an instrumental version of the cream hit sunshine of your love.
Redding remembered “We played past the point where Lulu might have joined us,”. “Played through the time for talking at the end, played through [producer] Stanley [Dorfman] tearing his hair, pointing to his watch and silently screaming at us.”
The performance delayed the evening news that night and resulted in Hendrix and his band being banned by the BBC. A similar topic I’ve covered previously would inspire Elvis Costello and the Attractions to do a similar act on Saturday Night Live almost a decade later when the band started interrupted their scheduled song to play a different song that took aim at corporate radio. NBC of course banned Costello and if you want to hear the full story behind that performance click the link below. Years later Costello admitted his performance on SNL was a tribute to Hendrix appearance on the Lulu show.