Jimi Hendrix Plays “Star Spangled Banner” At Woodstock In Protest

Jimi Hendrix star spangled banner

Jimi Hendrix Plays “Star Spangled Banner” During Woodstock In Protest Of U.S. Government

In 1969 Woodstock found itself on center stage in the media.  The music festival expanded far beyond the vision of what anyone could imagine.  After moving the venue several times the decision was made to allow concert goers in for free. Over half a million people gathered to witness the historic music event. Four days of peace, love, and music.  A legendary line-up of bands and solo artists performing incredible shows one after the other.  The most noteworthy being Jimi Hendrix playing the “Star Spangled Banner.” His performance was not a tribute to the United States.

Woodstock 1969 was the greatest festival in the history of live music events.  The 1960s were a time of controversy and discord in the country.  Woodstock gave people a chance to take a breather from the outside world.  Peace, love, and music were the same remedy available to anyone regardless of differences.  The line-up: Janis Joplin, The Grateful Dead, Creedence Clearwater Revival, The Who, Joe Cocker, Jefferson Airplane, Joan Baez and many more provided four days of incredible music. Woodstock drew a great deal of attention from the media.  The stage was set for Jimi Hendrix to play “The Star Spangled Banner.”

Jimi Hendrix Chooses Woodstock As The Platform For Protest

Jimi Hendrix was the closing act for the epic Woodstock festival of 1969.  His management team negotiated Hendrix as the closer since he was arguably the biggest name in rock at the time.  Before going on stage Hendrix was not sure if he should play “The Star Spangled Banner.”  However, he knew that Woodstock would be the biggest stage giving him the greatest opportunity to deliver a message.  Most of the concert goers had left, but Hendrix remained confident in the ability to make his statement.

Walking on stage wearing an army jacket Hendrix plays “The Star Spangled Banner” with mind blowing style and technique.  In 2009 Official Woodstock photographer Henry Ditz described the performance in an interview with Today.  “I remember people literally tearing their hair out. I looked out with one eye and I saw people grabbing their heads, so ecstatic, so stunned and moved, a lot of people holding their breath, including me. No one had ever heard that. It caught all of us by surprise.”

Jimi Hendrix’ Version Of “The Star Spangled Banner” Considered Disrespectful

Hendrix deliberately played his version of the national anthem to signify his thinking did not mesh with the government.  Shortly after Woodstock Dick Cavitt interviewed Hendrix, asking him why he played the song. “I don’t know, man. All I did was play it. I’m American, so I played it. I used to sing it in school. They made me sing it in school, so it was a flashback.  I didn’t think it was unorthodox, I thought it was beautiful.”

Jimi Hendrix playing “The Star Spangled Banner” at Woodstock was the most noteworthy performance of a historical music event.  Because of actions like this, Hendrix remains a counterculture icon.  Ironically, Hendrix’s version of the national anthem has been used to honor the country at sporting events and political gatherings.  Woodstock 1969 and Jimi Hendrix playing “The Star Spangled Banner” are two of the most noteworthy snapshots of the sixties.  Hendrix achieved his goal, the world heard his song.