About 100 miles south of Atlanta, next to a field just outside the town of Byron, there stands a plaque erected by the Georgia Historical Society marking the location of the Second Atlanta International Pop Festival, where from July 3-5, 1970, “Over thirty musical acts performed, including rock icon Jimi Hendrix playing to the largest American audience of this career.” Despite the overwhelming attendance (estimated to be 300,000-400,000), the festival and Hendrix’s performance in particular, has not received its due in terms of historic importance and impact until now.
Jimi Hendrix: Electric Church, a new documentary film about the music legend’s Atlanta Pop set and the circumstances surrounding it, will debut on SHOWTIME on Sept. 4 at 9 p.m. ET/PT. Experience Hendrix L.L.C. and Legacy Recordings, the catalog division of Sony Music Entertainment, is releasing the DVD and Blu-ray version on Oct. 30, which will feature bonus content not included in the broadcast version. The film documents the massive festival hailed then as the ‘Southern Woodstock’ and recognized now as the last great US Rock Festival. The film presents the story of how rock music’s burgeoning festival culture descended en masse to the tiny rural village of Byron, Georgia and witnessed Hendrix’s unforgettable performance.
The film details the efforts by Atlanta promoter Alex Cooley to create the definitive music festival. Cooley secured such talent as Bob Seger, BB King and the Allman Brothers, but Hendrix was the critical component he needed to elevate the three day festival to a major cultural event. Electric Church features interviews with Hendrix’s Experience band mates Billy Cox and the late Mitch Mitchell as well as Paul McCartney, Steve Winwood, Rich Robinson, Kirk Hammett, Derek Trucks, Susan Tedeschi, festival organizer Alex Cooley and many others. The film contains breathtaking, color 16mm footage of Jimi Hendrix’s Independence Day appearance, a mere ten weeks before his untimely passing. Standout performances include such Hendrix classics as “Hey Joe,” “Voodoo Child (Slight Return),” “Purple Haze,” as well as confident, compelling versions of songs such as “Room Full Of Mirrors,” “Freedom,” and “Straight Ahead” that had not yet been issued by Jimi on an Experience album, but were intended to be part of the album he was working on that summer. “The Star Spangled Banner,” played against a backdrop of exploding fireworks, is another highlight, which Cooley recalls as having “knocked peoples’ socks off.”
View the DVD on Amazon