Jimi Hendrix’s last birthday: partying backstage at Madison Square Garden with the Rolling Stones and Janis Joplin

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Maybe he didn’t have a cake, or blow out candles. Maybe they didn’t sing ‘Happy birthday to you’ to her, nor did she receive packages wrapped in colored paper. She didn’t need it. Because The day that Jimi Hendrix He turned 27, he gave himself the best gift. Not knowing it would be his last birthday. That day, November 27, 1969they played The Rolling Stones in New York. And the guitar genius decided to celebrate his anniversary going to Madison Square Garden. Before sitting in his seat to see his friends playing live’(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction‘, HE went backstage. And after the performance… the party continued.

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The Rolling Stones tour of the United States in 1969 (with Ike & Tina Turner, BB King and Terry Reid as opening acts) has been described by music critics as “the first legendary rock and roll tour in history.” It has also been said that it was “the biggest rock event of the year” or that “he is part of the rock and roll legend.” It was the first tour with Mick Taylorwho replaced Brian Jones (died in July ’69) and I had only played one concert before embarking on the North American journey. It was those ‘sold-out’ performances that cemented the band’s rock star status.

Michael Ochs Archives

His penultimate stop was in New York, at Madison Square Garden, on November 27 and 28. Much of what was heard there would form part of the British group’s second live album, called ‘Get Yer Ya-Ya’s Out!’, their first live album that reached No. 1 in the UK. And other unexpected events would occur, such as seeing Janis Joplin coming out on stage to perform with the Turners a improvised performance of ‘Land of 1000 dances’.

The three aspects of Janis Joplin's death: from an official version in doubt to the darkest speculations
The three aspects of Janis Joplin’s death: from an official version in doubt to the darkest speculations

But the highlight of that night starred Jimi Hendrix. On November 27, 1969, the Seattle guitarist turned 27. AND decided to give himself the best birthday party. In addition to attending the concert of his friends, he arrived at the legendary venue well in advance. like to have a good time with his colleagues backstage. Chatting, drinking, smoking… or improvising notes with his guitar, his inseparable companion.

Janis Joplin and Tina Turner performing together at Madsion Square Garden in New York in 1969.

Janis Joplin and Tina Turner performing together at Madsion Square Garden in New York in 1969. / Michael Ochs Archives

The legendary producer Eddie Kramer (whose credits appear on albums by the Rolling Stones, Hendrix, the Beatles and David Bowie) told in 2021, in an interview for The French Connection podcast, what that emblematic moment was like. “I got a phone call. It was very strange for me to get a call from Jimi. ‘Hey man, Do you want to come see the Rolling Stones at Madison Square Garden tonight?’ I said, ‘Yes, Jimi, that would be great, thank you very much.’ And he concluded, ‘See you backstage.'”

“That’s how it all happened. I grabbed my camera bag and met up with him. The Stones and Jimi were friends, and it was wonderful. In the locker room, talking to all the guys. I have that beautiful photo of Mick and Jimi sitting in the bench, with the cinder block wall and the hangers behind it. “These two icons, magnificent rock personalities, sitting together…just chatting.” In the locker room, Jimi also talked and joked with Keith Richards and did a kind of ‘jam session’ with Mick Taylor, which he would later recall in Rocks Off: “He came to the concert, I think he was living in New York at the time… during the period with his band The Gypsies. He came backstage and we improvised a little with our guitars in the locker room. I very rarely saw Jimi Hendrix without a guitar. She was always playing the guitar.”

American guitarist and composer Jimi Hendrix performing in New York in March 1968

American guitarist and composer Jimi Hendrix performing in New York in March 1968 / Icon and Image

When the concert ended, Hendrix and the Rolling Stones, among others, continued the celebration at a private party. The sad element of this whole episode is that Jimi Hendrix died a few months later, on September 18, 1970. And his 27th birthday would be his last.

Jagger met Hendrix years ago and praised his talent in an interview for Rolling Stone: “I loved Jimi Hendrix from the beginning. From the moment I saw him. I thought he was fantastic. He convinced me instantly. Mr. Jimi Hendrix is ​​the best thing I have ever seen. It was exciting, sexy, interesting. He didn’t have a good voice, but he made up for it with his guitar.. The first time I saw him was at the Revolution Club in London. I was one of six people in the place and Jimi was playing. I could’nt believe it. It was crazy. Incredible. I was a very good friend of his. He really was a good guy. Maybe, a little clueless.”

He Stones singer was the inspiration for Hendrix’s (posthumous) song, ‘Dolly Dagger’, after an incident that happened, coincidentally, during his last birthday party. Mick accidentally cut his finger. When he asked about a Band-Aid, Devon Wilson (Jimi’s girlfriend) ran up to him and told him it wasn’t necessary. In front of Jimi, he sucked the blood from his finger. Hence this phrase: “She drinks the blood of a jagged edge. She Drinks, baby.”


Written by

Christopher Johnson

Christopher Johnson is a dedicated writer and key contributor to the WECB website, Emerson College's student-run radio station. Passionate about music, radio communication, and journalism, Christopher pursues his craft with a blend of meticulous research and creative flair. His writings on the site cover an array of subjects, from music reviews and artist interviews to event updates and industry news. As an active member of the Emerson College community, Christopher is not only a writer but also an advocate for student involvement, using his work to foster increased engagement and enthusiasm within the school's radio and broadcasting culture. Through his consistent and high-quality outputs, Christopher Johnson helps shape the voice and identity of WECB, truly embodying its motto of being an inclusive, diverse, and enthusiastic music community.