Wednesday, September 24, 2014
TMFW 55 - Jimi Hendrix rebels on the BBC (and inspires a young Elvis Costello)
In TMFW 53, we learned all about Elvis Costello's infamous act of rebellion on Saturday Night Live in 1977. For those with really short memories - come on people, it was 2 weeks ago! - Costello started to play his song "Less Than Zero," but thought better of it and abruptly cut it off in favor of "Radio, Radio."
In an interview with Details magazine last year, Costello noted that his stunt was inspired by an act of subterfuge by Jimi Hendrix, eight years earlier on The Lulu Show in 1969. Costello said "They've run that clip [of me on SNL] forever, and every time anybody does anything outrageous on that show, I get name-checked. But I was copying Jimi Hendrix. Hendrix had done the same thing on [BBC's] the Lulu Show, when he went into an unscheduled number. I remember seeing it and going, 'What the hell's going on?'"
As this Open Culture article explains nicely - go and read it for the full story - Hendrix was meant to play "Hey Joe" as his second song on the show. The plan was for him to sing the final bars as a duet with the show's host Lulu, a British pop singer famous to that point for songs like "The Boat That I Row" and "To Sir, With Love." Lulu would then close out the show with her own song.
After enjoying some pre-show "festivities," and after their first song went off okay, the band started into "Hey Joe" as planned. But about halfway through, Hendrix stopped the song early, saying "We’d like to stop playing this rubbish.” He then dedicated a song to Cream, which had recently broken up, and he and the band played a loose version of "Sunshine of Your Love." They kept it up right on through the time Lulu was to join them on stage, and on through the end of the show. The stunt allegedly earned Hendrix a lifetime ban from BBC; it turned out to be a short one as he died less than two years later.
You can watch Hendrix's performance here; Hey Joe starts around 4:30 and stops around 7:07.
BONUS FACT: The incident noted above had little effect on Lulu's show or her career. Her show ran until 1975, and her career was active well into the 2000s. She had a UK top-5 hit in 2002 with a cover of Bob Seger's "We've Got Tonight," a duet with former Irish boy-band member Ronan Keating.
BONUS FACT 2: Lulu's first husband was famed Bee Gee Maurice Gibb.