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Lot #5069
Jimi Hendrix Rare Ultra-Early Original Concert Recording with Little Richard (Boston, 1965)

Incredibly rare original recording of a then-unknown Jimi Hendrix backing Little Richard in Boston, 1965

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Estimate: $40000+
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Incredibly rare original recording of a then-unknown Jimi Hendrix backing Little Richard in Boston, 1965

Incredibly rare original recording of Little Richard's show at the Back Bay Theatre [formerly the Donnelly Theatre] in Boston in 1965, backed by then-unknown Jimi Hendrix as a guitarist in his band; the date of the show is believed to be May 12, 1965, as reported in the book Becoming Jimi Hendrix by Steven Roby and Brad Schreiber.

That date corresponds with music writer Peter Guralnick's recollection of the show. In his May 2020 Rolling Stone obituary of the legendary artist, 'Remembering Little Richard’s Kind Heart and One-of-a-Kind Soul,' Guralnick remembers: 'I don’t know anyone who could work a song better in live performance. I’ll never forget his headlining a soul show at the Donnelly Theatre in Boston in 1965, bringing the crowd to a riveting climax as he left the mic and crossed over to the lip of the stage, with an unknown Jimi Hendrix playing guitar behind him. For close to 10 minutes, Richard continued to sing, expound, and expand upon the classic 1950s 'inspirational' number 'Shake a Hand,' all without benefit of vocal amplification, as he and the audience entered into the kind of trance-like state that only James Brown and Solomon Burke (both of whom revered him) could equally inspire.'

The recording was made by Boston radio personality Little Walter DeVenne on a Scotch 190 reel at 7.5 ips, and originates from his personal archives. The show opens with a 10-minute section of Hendrix playing with Don and Dewey, including the classic 'Shotgun.' Then, the emcee enthusiastically introduces Little Richard and his band: "I'd like for you to get together and welcome a young man who is delicate. Prettier than Cassius Clay. Swings harder than Roger Maris. He has more hits than Willie Mays. I want you to put your hands together now and make him feel good. You make him feel good now! Some of you girls can make him feel good later. Let's hear it now, a big hand for Little Richard!"

Screaming fans give way to dramatic horn overture that breaks into Little Richard on the mic: "As pretty as I am…I want to say to you all that I am not conceited, I'm convinced [laughter and applause]. Thank you. And the next time you see Cassius Clay, you can tell him Little Richard is here." He fervently crescendos into an introduction of their first song, a cover of the Beatles' hit 'I Saw Her Standing There.' Guitars start chugging to keep the time, the audience claps along, Richard belts out the enduring Lennon-McCartney number, and Hendrix closes the tune with a bluesy lick—a moment for him to shine behind Little Richard's rapturous flamboyance.

Richard then sits down at the piano for their rendition of 'Lucille,' the band providing the uptempo backing for his piercing plea: 'Oh Lucille, please, come back where you belong.' They slow things down for a rendition of 'Send Me Some Lovin',' featuring a great saxophone solo, then pep right back up for a medley of Little Richard classics: 'Rip It Up,' 'Tutti Frutti,' and 'Jenny, Jenny.' Changing the pace again, Richard sings and screams the ballad 'Shake a Hand' over his able band, the clean guitar part setting the mood for the audience's sing-along; Hendrix excels in his restrained role, careful not to upstage the bandleader while allowing himself some room for creativity as the song approaches the ten-minute mark. They close with a show-stopping cover of 'Whole Lotta Shakin' Goin' On.'

The setlist is as follows:

- I Saw Her Standing There

- Lucille

- Send Me Some Lovin'

- Medley: Rip It Up / Tutti Frutti / Jenny, Jenny

- Shake a Hand

- Whole Lotta Shakin' Goin' On

The young Jimi Hendrix had toured with the Isley Brothers in 1964, but, growing tired of playing the same set every night, left the band in late October. He soon joined Little Richard's touring band, The Upsetters, and recorded his one-and-only single with Little Richard, 'I Don't Know What You Got (But It's Got Me)' in February 1965. In July, he appeared as part of Little Richard's ensemble on Nashville's Channel 5 Night Train—the earliest known film footage of the soon-to-be superstar—performing 'Shotgun' with Buddy & Stacey, in a rendition nearly identical to the version on this tape. The present audio tape is the only known live-in-concert recording of Jimi Hendrix with Little Richard.

Later in the summer of 1965, Hendrix would be fired from Little Richard's group as they clashed over tardiness, wardrobe choices, and Hendrix's antics that had a tendency to upstage the frontman. Reflecting on their on-stage relationship, R&B artist Dewey Terry said: 'Jimi would let the guitar feed back and that would piss Richard off because it would cover up his vocals.' Graham Nash also recalls witnessing an instance of Little Richard's coarse reaction to Hendrix's electrifying showmanship, the bandleader shouting: 'Don’t you ever play your f*cking guitar behind your head again, don’t you upstage me, I’m f*cking Little Richard.'

Still, Little Richard's boldness and unapologetic self-expression empowered Hendrix to embrace his own uniqueness and creativity as an artist. With much borrowed from his one-time mentor—the wild energy, stage theatrics, and exotic wardrobe—Hendrix would become an icon of the 1960s. Soon he would go to London, build his own band, and set the music world aflame.

Auction Info

  • Auction Title: Marvels of Modern Music
  • Dates: #693 - Ended May 23, 2024