By 1969, rock guitarist Jimi Hendricks had release 3 full length albums: Are You Experienced (May 1967), Axis: Bold As Love (December 1967), and Electric Ladyland (October 1968). He completed an almost 3 year world tour; musically riffed his way into being known as the best rock guitarist of the era, and parted ways with the Jimi Hendrix Experienced band.
In 1969, Hendrix was a bonafied rock star. When he signed on to perform at the Woodstock Music & Art Fair—the most famous music fest of all time and one in which changed the history of rock music on a grand scale—he requested to be the last performer at the festival. Hedrix was scheduled to perform on Sunday at midnight. But because of rain delays and an unorganized schedule, He did not perform until 9:00 am on Monday morning. When he finally made it to the stage, the waning crowd erupted in cheer. He played a full two hour set. Toward the end of his set Hendrix played what is today the most recognizable and impassioned rendition of the Star Spangled Banner in history.
Without words, Hendrix conjured up missile strikes and explosions in his riffs and most importantly the emotion and majesty of what it feels like and what it means to be American. However, Hendrix went beyond the patriotic zeal in his riffs—He also captured the pain and sadness of what it is to be American in a time of war. The youth of America, whom were also the Woodstock audience, agonized and protested the very thought of war in an era of where in which they as citizens were about the business of promoting peace and love.
Jimi Hendrix’s Woodstock performance of the Star Spangled Banner carried with it all the anguish and raw emotion that is so present in African American music. This music always tells the emotional story of the Black presence here in America. Hendrix carried on the tradition.