Flashback: Jimi Hendrix Breaks Down Iconic ‘Star-Spangled Banner’ Woodstock Performance
“I thought it was beautiful,” legendary guitarist tells talk show host Dick Cavett
Just one month after closing out Woodstock with a searing rendition of “The Star-Spangled Banner,” Jimi Hendrix went onto The Dick Cavett Show to explain why he decided to reimagine the song. It’s seen today as one of the greatest moments of his career, but at the time some American were offended that his take on the song — which used squelching feedback to simulate the sound of exploding bombs — was a means to protest the Vietnam War.
“I don’t know, man,” an exhausted Hendrix told Cavett, shortly after admitting he had only slept eight minutes the night before. “I’m an American, so I played it. They made me sing it in school, so it was a flashback.”
Cavett informed the audience that Hendrix was once a member of the 101st Airborne Division, which should be considered when sending hate mail to the guitarist. “When you mention the national anthem and talk about playing it in any unorthodox way, you immediately get a guaranteed percentage of hate mail,” the talk show host said.
“It’s not unorthodox!” Hendrix told Cavett, cutting him off. “I thought it was beautiful.”