Jimi Hendrix in South Shields was spine-tingling stuff

Jimi Hendrix at the New Cellar Club was a spine-tingling experience, says Barry Wood.
Jimi Hendrix at the New Cellar Club was a spine-tingling experience, says Barry Wood.

I mentioned last week, how rock guitar legend Jimi Hendrix had played in South Shields two years before wowing the tens of thousands of “stragglers” on the final day of Woodstock, in 1969.

And I asked you for your memories of the occasion when Hendrix and his band, The Jimi Hendrix Experience, played here. Well, you didn’t let me down.

Barry Wood was one of those in the audience at The New Cellar Club, in South Shields, on Wednesday, February 1, 1967, when the band took to the stage.

These are his words:

“Your article on the Hendrix New Cellar Club gig really brought the memories flooding back.

“I was 16 years old at the time, and the tickets were a staggering six shillings (30p) each, and having missed the grand opening gig (a very young Eric Clapton and his new band Cream), I certainly wasn’t going to miss this one.

“The support band was The Bond, a very talented bunch of South Shields lads, Les Gofton (father of Lauren Laverne), and Dave Bainbrige, alternating on guitars and bass.

“At one time they had a bassist, Neil Patterson, but my memory isn’t good enough for me to say whether or not he played that night, along with Robin Thomson on drums.

“There definitely were a few memorable happenings that night, starting with Hendrix’s amp blowing up backstage.

“As I recall, both the support band’s guitarists were using the brand new Marshall amplifiers of the day, albeit the smaller 50-watt versions as opposed to the 200-watters used by Hendrix and Noel Redding (who had to use one of the support band guitar amps), putting him at a distinct volume disadvantage to the main man.

“I can also remember the confused look on the face of Alf, the bouncer, when Hendrix began to stab his Stratocaster headstock into the plasterwork above the stage to encourage feedback and noises, showering the stage with dust and debris. I think Alf was on the verge of jumping onto the stage to restrain him, but luckily for the audience, he didn’t.

“If, as Noel Redding said, they couldn’t hear what they where playing, I can tell you that it sounded phenomenal from the audience side.

“And what they were able to deliver with, by modern stage technology, Jurassic gear, still sends a shiver down my spine to this day.

“Nothing before could have prepared us for the total reinvention of the sound possibilities of the electric guitar, through a Wah-Wah pedal and a Fuzz Box, which Hendrix single-handedly forged, fuelled by the jazz-influenced rhythms of Mitch Mitchell’s drumming.”

• As always, please keep sending me your memories, they’re pure gold dust.