Chronique de Just Ask The Axis :
"On March 16, 1968, Jimi Hendrix played at The Lewiston Armory in Lewiston, Maine, and delivered a performance unlike any other the city has ever seen. Surprisingly, these were the only public details available. That is, until I decided to do a little research. Using the local newspaper the "Sun Journal", I was able to track down a handful of people who attended the 1968 concert to learn about their perspective of the historic event & try to piece together the details of that damp March evening in Lewiston. Though the different people I’ve talked to remembered different things about the show, everyone in attendance agrees it was quite the "experience".
Everyone I talked to also agreed that the concert was extremely loud. That’s no surprise, as The Jimi Hendrix Experience was known for cranking their amplifiers and leaving the audience with their ears ringing. Sue Landry from Auburn expressed this fact to me with the most clarity. She was also kind enough to provide me with a copy of the original advertisement for the show from the local newspaper. Landry, who was in 8th grade at the time of the show, said that her father could hear the concert a half mile away on the way to pick her up. She also remembers that there was an incredible light show to dazzle the packed venue.
Roger Caslong of New Glouster also had a good time - perhaps too much of a good time. Though he can’t remember much, he remembers the essential details. Aside from the extreme loudness of the show, he remembers the mountains of amplifiers piled up behind the band, how cheap the tickets were, and he also recalls Hendrix destroying his guitar at the end of the show. According to Caslong, Hendrix also played the guitar with his teeth & behind his back in front of a crowd of standing room only.
The show at The Armory was Diane Leblond’s first concert. She was 16 at the time. Other than smelling the heavy aroma of marijuana, she remembers that the crowd "thoroughly enjoyed the performance", and that Hendrix demolished his guitar at the end of the show. She also noted that the song "Purple Haze" was the highlight of the set.
David Bernier was a senior in high school when he saw Hendrix in Lewiston. Calling it an "unforgettable experience", Bernier remembers Hendrix playing the guitar behind his head & with his teeth and tongue. He also clearly remembers feeling Noel Redding’s bass pulsating through his body. Bernier noted that the police at the show got nervous when the crowd chanted "Fire", unaware that it was the title of a Hendrix song. According to Bernier, Hendrix not only played "Fire", but many other songs from the album Are You Experience?, as well as "You Got Me Floatin’" and "Wait Until Tomorrow" off of the recently released Axis: Bold As Love album. Since The Experience never performed those two songs in concert, it’s very unlikely that they were played in Lewiston. I’m guessing he got the Axis songs confused with "Spanish Castle Magic", a song of the album that was frequently played around this timeframe. Bernier added that the band ended the show with a cover of The Trogg’s "Wild Thing". Hendrix ruled out the possibility of an encore by dousing his guitar with lighter fluid and setting it ablaze.
Ted St. Pierre of Bethel remembers Hendrix arriving late to The Armory. He heard that Jimi possibly crashed his Jaguar while driving to the show. St. Pierre, who was 16 at the time, claims that he "PA system was a joke", that it was "just a couple of Fender cabinets". St. Pierre also remembers that there were no empty seats for The Experience’s 45 minutes to an hour performance.
Along with remarking on the cheap ticket prices, Brian from Minot talked about the "wall" of amplifiers stacked behind the group, as well as Hendrix’s showmanship: "It was a wall of amps over 6 feet tall, and to see Jimi play behind his back is something I’ll never forget." Brian recalled that Hendrix played mostly songs off the Are You Experienced? album, though he remembers hearing "the greatest ‘Star Spangled Banner’" he’d ever heard. That would be unlikely, as Hendrix didn’t begin playing the National Anthem until some time later.
Penelope Poor best described Hendrix in her own words: "He seemed so young, very skinny, and was dressed the way you always see him, very colorful." Poor said that Hendrix was very well received by the audience.
I received a nameless e-mail from someone who attended the show, and they had this to say: "Jimi held his guitar strings in front of a strobe light and then dangled them over the crowd, then dropped them individually into the crowd. He lit his guitar on fire & stamped on it!"
I talked to a man named Kris Milo about the Hendrix show. Though he didn’t attend the concert, he knew a man that not only went to the show, but also took photos of Hendrix’s performance. Sadly, Paul Langelier passed away unexpectedly 5 or 6 years ago, and the photos were auctioned off. Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to find any trace of the photographs.
Perhaps the most intriguing perspective of the show is from Rich Hagar. Hagar played rhythm guitar for one of the opening bans at the show, Hanseatic League. The college band landed the gig because the bassist was one of the promoters for the show. Hagar recalls that Hendrix was originally signed to play the show for $1500. The promoters expected about 4,000 people at the most, but 7,000 people actually showed up, which is almost double of what The Armory is built to hold. Hagar knew it was to be a loud set from Hendrix when he saw three 24-foot U-Haul trucks pull up, all holding amplifiers and instruments. Both Hendrix and Redding used 3 Marshall amplifiers with Sound City heads. Hagar, like Ted St. Pierre, also heard the story about Hendrix crashing his Jaguar on the way to the show, so perhaps there’s some truth behind the tale. Hagar got to sit on the side of the stage during Hendrix’s set. He remembers Jimi coming onto the stage alone and starting the show alone. After soloing for a few minutes, he was joined by Mitch Mitchell on the drums for a rendition of Howlin’ Wolf’s "Killing Floor". Hagar then went on to say, that "not to be off-color, but at one point, Hendrix turned away from the audience, achieved an erection, and proceeded to play the guitar with it." Hagar, who is currently a college professor in New Jersey, got to chat with Hendrix & Redding at the concert. Redding was very talkative, where as Hendrix was more quiet and reserved.
The show at The Armory was Hendrix’s only show in Maine. The Armory has hosted other musical acts, including Chuck Berry, Jerry Lee Lewis, Foghat, and Queen, but it’s safe to say that Lewiston has never before "experienced" a performance quite like the one delivered by The Jimi Hendrix Experience on March 16, 1968. "