On the 20th February 1959, Jimi Hendrix played his first ever live concert – and got fired from the band after the first set. This set a pattern for the legendary guitarist’s early years, as he was also fired by both Little Richard and Ike and Tina Turner before he found success with the Jimi Hendrix Experience in 1966.
Hendrix bought his first acoustic guitar in 1958, when he was 15 years old. However, after forming a short-lived band called the Velvetones, he managed to persuade his father Al to buy him an electric guitar – a white Supro Ozark – so that he could be heard amidst the other instruments.
By early 1959 Hendrix hadn’t fully mastered the instrument, but his passion and enthusiasm had been noticed by others. On the 20th February, in the basement of the Temple De Hirsch synagogue in his home town of Seattle, he played his first gig. The band, whose name has sadly been lost, were actually auditioning Hendrix to join them but after an exuberant first-set performance opted not to invite him back on stage for the second set. His girlfriend of the time, Carmen Goudy, recalled that the bandleader said his playing was too wild, and that it distracted people from dancing.
Rather than give in to the more pedestrian requirements of Seattle’s dance bands, however, Jimi Hendrix refused to change his style. As he secured jobs in the backing bands for artists such as Little Richard his flashiness continued to cause him problems. However, it was exactly that ostentatiousness that made him stand out when he moved to London in 1966.