BY MELISSA RUGGIERI
The association most people have between Jimi Hendrix and massive festivals is Woodstock.
But on July 3-5, 1970, about 100 miles south of Atlanta in Byron, Hendrix played to the largest American audience of his career, an estimated 300,000-400,000, at the second Atlanta International Pop Festival.
On Sept. 4, Hendrix’s historic performance – but one not always mentioned – will receive deserved attention when Showtime airs “Jimi Hendrix: Electric Church,” a new documentary about Hendrix’s appearance and the circumstances surrounding it.
In addition to the broadcast, Experience Hendrix L.L.C. and Legacy Recordings will release “Freedom: Jimi Hendrix Experience Atlanta Pop Festival” as a 2-CD set and a 200-gram 2-LP vinyl set (the first 5,000 vinyl units will be individually numbered). The audio release will include six performances that are not part of the Showtime documentary.
A DVD and Blu-ray version of the film will arrive Oct. 30 with bonus content.
“Electric Church” includes interviews with legendary Atlanta concert promoter Alex Cooley, who talks about how, despite a lineup already stocked with Bob Seger, B.B. King and the Allman Brothers Band, Hendrix was needed to boost the festival so it would be considered a major cultural event.
Others who agreed to interviews in the film are Hendrix’s Experience bandmate Billy Cox, Paul McCartney, Steve Winwood, Rich Robinson, Kirk Hammett, Derek Trucks and Susan Tedeschi.
Fans can expect to see 16mm color footage of Hendrix’s July 4 appearance, which took place only 10 weeks before he died. Performances include “Hey Joe,” “Voodoo Child (Slight Return),” “Purple Haze” and “Straight Ahead,” which Hendrix had anticipated to release on the album he was working on that summer.
In the film, Cooley remarks that Hendrix’s version of “The Star-Spangled Banner,” played against a backdrop of fireworks, “knocked peoples’ socks off.”