On Aug. 18, 1969, legendary guitarist Jimi Hendrix stepped onto the stage at the Woodstock, N.Y., Music Festival and embarked upon an uninterrupted set lasting nearly two hours--one of the longest performances of his career. It concluded with a long medley that included the solo performance of the Star Spangled Banner that would become emblematic not only of Woodstock, but of the 1960s themselves.
While some considered his rendition of “The Star-Spangled Banner” controversial and “unorthodox,” Hendrix didn’t. He considered it “beautiful” his eternally groovy way. Looking back, that’s probably the best way to regard it — neither distorted protest nor funky salute to the flag.
Most importantly, Hendrix was the king of all guitar players at the peak of his powers, and he put on a riveting show that day at Woodstock. If he wanted to get people talking and thinking, he more than succeeded. Fifty years later, it will still send a chill up your spine.