Jimi Plays Berkeley May 1970

Documenting a 1970 Hendrix concert staged a few months before the great rock guitarist’s lethal drug overdose, this tape is a cleaned-up video reissue of Jimi Plays Berkeley, a film that has bummed out devotees at midnight screenings for years for a simple reason: It’s a real grind to sit through. A poorly shot and crudely edited record of an artist in the apparent process of boring himself to death, the tape does reprise most of Hendrix’s hits, which is at best a mixed blessing; at this point in his career, he must have walked through ”Purple Haze” at least as many times as Judy Garland sang ”Over the Rainbow,” and it shows. But the perfunctory performances are only part of the problem; equally annoying are the amateurish cinema verite photography (a tush shot that must be seen to be believed), sub-bootleg sound, and endless incoherent radical-man-on-the-street interviews. Basically, this is a substandard period piece from an extremely depressing period; if you want a video document of Hendrix at his peak, check out HBO’s ”Live in Monterey” tape instead. D

Jimi Plays Berkeley May 1970
  • Movie
  • 55 minutes