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The Day the Jimi Hendrix Experience Made Their Live Debut

Express Hulton Archive, Getty Images

The Jimi Hendrix Experience made their live debut in the middle of October 1966 with four dates in France.

Upon his arrival in England, the guitarist’s manager, former Animals bassist Chas Chandler, introduced Hendrix to drummer Mitch Mitchell and bassist Noel Redding, the duo that would become the Experience. After a week of rehearsals, Chandler put the band on the road supporting the French singer Johnny Hallyday.

The opening date was at the Novelty in Evreux, France on Oct. 13, 1966, and the trek wound up five days later at the Olympia Theater in Paris. Also on the bill were Long Chris, the Blackbirds and, for the final date, the Brian Auger Trinity. Less than a week later, the Experience would make their debut in the U.K.

Their opening night set was short, but sweet, and included “In the Midnight Hour,” “Have Mercy,” “Land of a Thousand Dances” and “Hey Joe.” In his autobiography, Inside the Experience, Mitchell recalled the changes that took over Hendrix once he got onstage. “It was on this first gig that we saw the whole other person, completely different from anything I’d seen before” he said. “I knew he played really tasty guitar, but I didn’t know about the showmanship that went with it. It was like, Whoosh! This man is really out front!”

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