The Day Jimi Hendrix Was Laid to Rest
Rolling Stone reported on the gathering, which was held at the Dunlap Baptist Church and limited, at the family's request, to close friends and relatives. Delayed due to the inquest following Hendrix's death (which remained, as the report described it, an "open verdict"), the funeral brought the legendary guitarist back to his hometown while bringing together people from the vastly different chapters in his extraordinary life.
The odd blend of onlookers was arguably best summed up by Hendrix family friend Patronella Wright, who later recalled being asked to sing at the service because "they need some God in there" and admitted, "It scared me to death. All these people from England and other countries, they all had on black leather, and they all had long hair, and they all were high."
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Wright's performances were a moving highlight of the service, which was also clouded by a small amount of controversy, chiefly courtesy of some disagreements between Hendrix's manager, Michael Jeffery, and some of his friends and associates, including Band of Gypsys drummer Buddy Miles and singer Eric Burdon. Burdon, in particular, was publicly disgruntled — to the point that he refused to attend the service, claiming Hendrix hated Seattle and wouldn't have wanted to be buried there — but in the end, it offered the assembled an opportunity to grieve, pay tribute and offer their last respects.
"All I hope for is the man is in peace at last," said Experience drummer Mitch Mitchell. "All he ever wanted to do was play his guitar, he just wanted to play music which says 'Here, I've got this energy, and go and do what you want, but direct it somewhere.'"
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Plans for an all-star tribute concert were scrapped — as promoter Tom Hulett told Rolling Stone, "When the press last week heard about the possibility of a big memorial concert, I think they started getting scared of something like another Woodstock" — but the gathering still ended with music after moving to the Seattle Center, where Mitchell, Miles and Experience bassist Noel Redding were joined by Johnny Winter and Miles Davis for an impromptu set.
Even after Jimi Hendrix's casket was lowered into the ground, his career was far from finished; in fact, his discography has only continued to grow over the ensuing decades as various labels — and, later, the Hendrix estate — churned out posthumous releases.
"I'm certain there's all kinds of unscrupulous people in the business, who shall remain nameless, that will release tapes of Jimi now," engineer Eddie Kramer predicted after the funeral. "The thing is, these people will put them out on the basis that any Jimi Hendrix music is good music, and that's not true! I know it and Jimi knew it."
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Gallery Credit: Dave Lifton