Are they on the plane?
Wednesday February 7th 1968 wasn’t a normal day, you know, get up, get going, and take care of regular things, instead it was a day to take care of something which revolved around one thing; Jimi Hendrix and company were supposed to arrive at the Sacramento airport that afternoon for our concert the next night. Since talking to Hendrix in San Francisco we’d continued advertising the concert even though we’d never gotten a signed contract back so we were flying on hope and trust alone, but were prepared to pick them up at the airport according to the contract rider they’d sent. It called for a limo and three cars to take them to the hotel, “Buick’s or Cadillac’s are preferred”, and a truck for the equipment. We arranged for the limo and managed to get a Cadillac and another “big” car from some girlfriends parents and we borrowed the truck from the local music store for free tickets. We gathered at noon and agreed to meet at the airport at 3:00 p.m. The plane we hoped they were on was due in at 4:45. We did know they had played the night before in Tucson so we found out what gate the incoming plane from Arizona was arriving at and asked the ticket agent there if this was the plane Jimi Hendrix was on. The agent kinda coughed and said they couldn’t release the names of the passengers. We took a few steps back to decide what do next and when I looked back at the ticket agent and he slightly nodded “yes”. Collectively our spirits rose, it was gonna happen. After what seemed to be a very long time we saw a plane taxi up to the covered extended ramp and heard it shut down its engines. Shortly an airline agent opened the door leading down to the plane and people started coming up the ramp. As people filed off I heard some of them who had people waiting for them to stick around, “hang on, you have to see this!”A small crowd formed and suddenly coming up the ramp in rainbow colored splendor were Jimi Hendrix, Noel Redding, and Mitch Mitchell. Brilliant waistcoats, hats with feathers and plumes, jewelry, bags slung over shoulders, wild boots and confident smiles; they were on stage right then. Time froze for those who had never seen anything like that up-close and as the rest of their entourage passed by audible whispers, snickers, and conversation filled the area. Digital cameras and cell phone cameras would have working overtime that day and I bet there isn’t one person who was there that has ever forgotten that experience!
Like everything else up to this point the transportation rider was different than what was really happening. All the equipment was in a truck coming from Arizona and they’d rented several cars from Hertz but Jimi and a couple people wanted to ride in the limo we hired so we had a rock and roll caravan through town to the Holiday Inn where they told us they were staying. Pulling into the parking lot was a preview of what was going to be happening; we hadn’t even known they were coming for sure, but in the parking lot were a couple dozen girls waiting for them! How they knew what time they were getting there, and where they were staying, could only be attributed to them having met someone when the band played in San Francisco that knew what was happening; they definitely had inside information!
A couple of minutes later the tour manager had the rooms and Hendrix and company headed to their respective palaces with several guests. As promoters we’d set aside a bit of cash to offer to buy Jimi and his buddies dinner or a beer or two if they felt like it. The tour manager thought that was a good idea so we went up to Jimi’s room to see if he wanted to go. We knocked on the door and when it opened clouds of smoke escaped and as we walked inside we saw Mitch, Noel and Jimi all taking super 8 movies of each other horsing around. Like kids they bounced all over posing and surprising people with a camera to the face. It was quite a sight and when I looked down at the coffee table I saw a huge baggie full of hardball size balls of golden hashish. I had met the attorney traveling with them at the airport and saw him standing near the bathroom watching intently. I walked over to him to say hi and he looked at me and said; “see why they have me along?” I told him I understood there was more to the legal side of rock and roll than just non-existent contracts and useless contract riders. “Yes, you must keep an eye on the boys” he continued in his proper English accent, “you never know about these lads and the young women who cross their paths. Speaking of that, Gerry the tour manager said you wanted to spot us a bite in the restaurant. Is that correct?”
I told him yes and he walked through the smoke and chaos to the center of the room. “Okay lads, we’re off for a bite, gather up!”