Hendrix Plays the Washington Hilton (1968)

Wow, this one is gold. Jimi Hendrix played the Washington Hilton on Connecticut Ave. NW — the same one where Hinkley shot Reagan in 1981. That’s right, the guitar god himself played to 4,000 fans in the hotel’s international ballroom on March 10th, 1968, accompanied by his bandmates, Noel Redding (drums) and Mitch Mitchell (bass). This one might be cooler than the Beatles playing D.C. in 1964, but I don’t want to spark a giant musical debate. They’re both awesome finds.

Check out the photo below of Jimi tearing up the stage.

Hendrix playing the Washington Hilton
Hendrix playing the Washington Hilton

Take a look at this concert promotion poster. We don’t have posters like this stapled to utility poles in Adams Morgan or Capitol Hill these days. And I would gladly pay four bucks to see Hendrix. It’s also amusing to see you could buy concert tickets at the Willard.

Jimi Hendrix Experience - Washington Hilton 1968
Jimi Hendrix Experience promotion poster – Washington Hilton 1968

Jim Hoagland, winner of two Pulitzers, wrote an interesting review of the show the next day in the Washington Post. Here are a few excerpts:

Hendrix and his two side men are making their first American tour since becoming England’s most popular rock group. Part of yesterday’s crowd was composed of two planeloads of his fans from New York who were shut out of his sell-out shows there last week. He is, in short, the hottest thing going.

The 22-year-old guitarist and vocalist, who was born in Seattle, became an instant legend in junior high school classrooms when, in a moment of crowd hysteria, he burned his guitar at the Monterey pop festival. The question kept circulating yesterday, in anguished tones, “Is he going to burn it?”

He didn’t. But he didn’t disappoint the crowd either, with his wildly sexual gyrations and to-hell-with-it attitude. He is bad, and teen-agers love him for it. He is more evil than Elvis ever dreamed of being, and teen-agers know that it infuriates their parents.

Jimi Hendrix is the P. T. Barnum of rock. He assesses, and fills, the needs of his crowd.

This would have been an incredible concert to go to. Frankly, any Hendrix show would have been great.

By the way, one somber fact about this show is that it predated the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. and the resulting D.C. riots by a little over three weeks.

Below is a CD cover I found off of a bootleg from the first show that night (they played at 3pm and 8pm). Thanks to Jotavich over at Blogger for this one. That setlist looks pretty sweet, even if it’s short … probably an hour is my guess.

Killing Floor
Foxy Lady
The Wind Cries Mary
Red House
I Don’t Live Today
Purple Haze
Wild Thing

Hendrix Washington Hilton
Hendrix Washington Hilton – CD cover
Hendrix setlist at Washington Hilton
Hendrix setlist at Washington Hilton – CD back

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  • David Fielding

    Cool find on this one. I’ll have to track down the boot on Dime. The timing is fascinating as well. There are still areas in DC that haven’t recovered from the riots.

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  • andrew

    Hello there….Anyone out there have An original jimi hendrix march 1968 hilton hotel concert poster? I will pay $3,000 cash for it OR any other original 1967-70 vintage hendrix concert poster. Call andrew 310-346-1965

    • Ken

      Hello Andrew, my brother in law was at this concert and he pick up 68 hilton concert poster. It has soom damage on the top corners and a tare. He has passed away and now I have the poster. If you are interrested still my email is [email protected]. I can send you some pictures if you would like.

  • He also played in Adams- Morgan at the Ontario theater on Columbia Road. I believe the space is now, like a few old theaters, ( the Biograph and MacArthur) a CVS.

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  • Ian

    Both my dad and uncle were at this concert !

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  • Jimi Hendrix played the Ambassador Theater which was formerly at 18th and Columbia (the site is now a bank) and not the Ontario Theater. Some details:

    • Katie Bradford

      Jeff – I saw him his first night at the Ambassador – there was about 50 or so high school hippies sitting on the floor (remember it didn’t have seats) and when he walked out he said, “Oh, man, my career really is in the toilet” or something close to that. This was 3 weeks before his album came out and I did not know who he was – just heard he was a cool guitarist. I met him at the Hilton in March ’68. D.C. was a happening place for music in the ’60s and ’70s.

  • Tina

    I went to the 3:00pm show with my boyfriend and another friend. It was my first concert experience and what made it more amazing is that Hendrix walked up to us near the side entrance after the show and talked to us for about 10-15 minutes. He said…”what are you cats doing here?” He had an 8mm movie camera with him and filmed us for about a minute or two. Then he said bye and jumped into his black limo. I’m sorry I never got his autography. But, I’ll always remember my first time and getting to meet the late/great Jimi Hendrix.

    • nathanbrittles

      Have run into a handful of people who were also at this show (late show). Hard to believe it was that long ago and that has been gone for so long. Still miss him a lot.

  • Mar T

    Where can I get the CD and/or the poster?
    Mar T

  • Old Washington

    Ghosts of DC do you want to sell your Jimi Hendrix at the Washington Hilton Poster?

  • nathanbrittles

    was also at that show, my first real concert. Really did not understand exactly what was going on, but was lucky enough to catch him two more times before his untimely death. Truly changed the way people played electric guitar and the way people listened and appreciated rock music. and all for 4 bucks!

  • KC

    Can’t remember if I went to the 3:00 or the 8:00 show; hey, it was the 60’s.
    Does anyone remember some guy from the audience jumping on stage and tackling Hendrix? Security grabbed him and pulled him off, but he amazing thing was that Hendrix didn’t miss a note through the whole ordeal. Also remember kids stacking chairs up, climbing to the top and sitting on them. It was an unforgettable time. Saw lots of shows/festivals in the 60’s. Hendrix and Janis Joplin are at the top of the list. Thank you, Eric, for all of the precious memories.

    • tom

      Yes, I am glad someone else saw that, because over the years, I have wondered whether I really saw what I remembered seeing. The guy was wearing a paper mache bird head.

  • I was at that concert. Had to watch soft machine through a crack in the door, but at intermission, all of us standing in the lobby got to go in and sit in the aisles. security wasn’t like today.

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  • Katie Bradford

    When I was 16, I was an usherette at this concert . My mom ran Cinderella Modeling School in D.C. and they hired girls to work as usherettes – pay was a front row seat and back stage pass. I went back stage and Jimi was alone in a dressing room with the door open. I went in and sat down. He had his eyes closed and was playing an acoustic guitar…..when he finished the song he looked at me and said hi. I said hi and then kinda freaked out and ran back to my seat!!!!!!!! A day I’ll never ever forget!!!

  • deadhead

    I was there – 3:00 show. My best friend at the time – Charlie – and I were next door neighbors at Ft Meade . . . products of military families. My dad was pretty conservative. Charlie’s dad was more . . . “the kids like the rock and roll . . . it is what it is”. We were not yet able to drive and/or didn’t have a car between us. No way my dad would even entertain taking us to – gulp! Downtown DC! … much less to a rock concert. Charlie’s dad was always cool about it, would drive us there (or to the Baltimore Civic Center – a HUGE venue for us) and go have coffee for 3 or 4 hours, then drag us home. Anyway, Charlie was of the “Clapton is God” religion. I, OTOH, of course knew that Hendrix was our guitar lord and savior. We’d jibe each other and argue “the fine points” all the time. Truth was, we both dug it all.

    I don’t recall the attack on stage, so that musta happened at the later show. I do remember waking up after a 30 minute, droning rendition of “We Did it Again” by the Soft Machine. And I do remember being in awe of the floating oil/water bubble light show . . very mesmerizing and quite appropriate for The Soft Machine’s mind numbing brand of psychedelia.

    Most importantly, I remember rushing the stage when Hendrix took the stage and staying there the whole time (security was more relaxed in those days), 5 feet away from my guitar deity, as he ripped into Purple Haze, Fire and Red House . . . and the inexplicably popular and wildly exciting cover of Wild Thing. It moooved me. He got down on his knees . . . as he played the guitar with his teeth. And behind his back (no fire, though). And in savage gyrations attacked the stack of Marshalls elucidating all manner of really cool feedback. It was an unforgettable experience.

    It was one of “those” shows where, ears ringing, you walked out in a daze, almost regretting getting back to “real life”.

    Those were the daze . . . thanks Ghosts, for posting this up. So many memories flooding in. Peace. (I’ve never found anyone else that attended that concert. (Saw him 2 years later, early ’70, Band of Gypsies tour, Baltimore. Then he was gone.