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Hendrix: The Gigs That Changed History – #7 Monterey Pop Festival

Monterey, California, June 18, 1967

August 18, 1969. Jimi Hendrix at Woodstock, the supreme moment in the history of rock – if not of the cosmos. But something’s wrong here… It’s not exactly the ecstatic event you might have imagined. By the time Jimi comes on stage at 9 o'clock on Monday morning it’s a scene of utter devastation. Between us and Hendrix there’s a high stockade fence straight out of Fort Apache, the mud is up to your knees. Half the 400,000 people who came have gone, and left behind are the lost and abandoned – among them me and my acid bride.

My state of mind may have something to do with crashing from three days of doing acid. Bodies are strewn on the ground, people are freaking out, passed out, pale haunted faces, kids throwing up from eating raw corncobs from Max Yasgur’s fields, there are desperate little fires you see on battlefields, leering hustlers are selling glasses of water for a dollar, the shit in the Portosans is bubbling up like some alien life form, and to add to the general sense of doom there’s the continual thrum of helicopters delivering food or medivacing out the wounded or the mad ones – it’s becoming difficult to tell whether we’re in Bethel or Da Nang. And like some freaky mirror image from the other side of the world, grunts and bloods are blasting Purple Haze on boomboxes in the jungles of Vietnam. A line from the song comes to mind: ‘Is it tomorrow, or just the end of time?’

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