Skip to main content

ASU's hidden history

Jimi Hendrix scores with gym concert 50 years ago at Physical Education West


Actor Pat McMahon and musician Jimi Hendrix in 1968

|
August 29, 2018

Editor's note: This is the first in an occasional series shining a spotlight on pieces of ASU's past.

Tucked between the Memorial Union and the Computing Commons is a hidden piece of the Tempe campus’ history.

Fifty years ago, Physical Education Building West was known as the Sun Devil Gym and was the main basketball and gymnastics facility. But for one evening in February, it hosted the Jimi Hendrix Experience in front of a crowd of 3,000 fans.

Video by Ken Fagan/ASU Now

“Hendrix rocked this house with his wailing guitar and his feedback and distortion,” said University Archivist Rob Spindler. “… Hendrix was known as an acrobatic guitar player, playing behind his head, between his legs — even burning his guitar at the Monterey Pop Festival the year before.”

Hendrix warmed up in the locker room beforehand and sported a Native American choker, Afghan-style coat, bell-bottoms and his signature hat. He played a white-and-rosewood Fender Stratocaster.

“To see Hendrix in this small gym, in such close quarters must have been incredible! Unfortunately, the play list has long been lost,” said Spindler, who is known to rock out on guitar himself.

As one State Press reporter put it, “It was a good Experience.”

Top photo: Jimi Hendrix warmed up his Fender Stratocaster in the ASU locker room with actor Pat McMahon on Feb. 5, 1968. Photo courtesy of TJ Franklink Photography

More Arts, humanities and education

 

A graphic image of a robot seated in a chair, reading a physical book.

Generative AI in the humanities classroom

Since the public launch of ChatGPT in late 2022, media has reported on both the “death of the essay” and the possibilities for an educational revolution. But Arizona State University’s partnership…

A still image of a Zoom screen with multiple users.

Online program provides intercultural experience for ASU, Japanese students

Japanese instructor Hiroko Hino of Arizona State University's School of International Letters and Cultures takes an innovative approach when teaching her students a new language. Her classes immerse…

A woman stands reviewing documents on a table in front of her.

Reclaiming a lost history

Editor’s note: This is part of a monthly series spotlighting special collections from ASU Library’s archives throughout 2024. Arizona’s Black and African American community has woefully been…