Tuesday, 18 September 2012

Ripping epaulettes!

Not all things written are true. Once a claim is published, it sets in your mind as being the truth. I happens to me all the time.
The Jimi Hendrix Experience appeared on Top Of The Pops on 29 December 1966, as well as a few weeks later on 18 January 1967. As far as I knew there were no video recordings of the first appearance, nor any photos. Strange, as most of Jimi’s TOTP appearances are visually documented, either by video, or pictures.

Of the second appearance on 18 January 1967 we have many photos: several photos of the actual appearance, as well as dressing room shots of the group and each member separate, both in black and white and color. As far back as Univibes issue #7 the date given for these photos is 18 January 1967. But are they? Let’s investigate!

While researching the early months of Jimi’s career, I came across these photos. Although I have them archived on the 18th myself, I couldn’t fit them in with the rest of the photos from mid January. Why are there no photos of the TOTP show of 29 December 1966? The answer [well, at least to me it is] came from a photo caption on page 14 of Univibes magazine issue 61/62.

What do these TOTP photo show... We see the band posing in a dressing room, in the hall, Jimi reading a Mad World magazine, posing with his white Fender, sitting in front of a mirror smoking. Mitch is wearing a purple satin shirt, black trousers. Noel is wearing a white striped sweater and dark red trousers. Jimi is wearing a white satin shirt, and orange trousers with a hip repetitive motive. He is also wearing his Iron Cross necklace. The dressing room photos also show Jimi wearing his military jacket [not the one with the ribbed front]. We can also see various photos of the band performing against a silver decor in an empty tv studio. While TOTP was recorded with a young crowd as spectators, photographers were only allowed to take pictures during afternoon rehearsals. This is the case with the photos of the Experience of all the times they appeard on TOTP.

The clothes the boys are wearing seemed to fit better in December 1966 than in January. Mitch is wearing a satin shirt, possibly the same shirt he can be seen wearing on photos taken in München, Germany, between 8 and 11 November 1966. I can’t find photos of Mitch with this shirt after 1 January 1967. Noel is wearing a white striped jumper. In his book Are You Experienced? Noel writes that his stage clothes were stolen just before the band went on the Ready, Steady, Go! tv show of 13 December 1966. Chas bought him quickly new trousers and this white striped jumper, which Noel hated. He hated it so much, that there are no pictures of Noel after 1 Janaury 1967 wearing this jumper. 

Jimi is wearing the orange trousers, the same trousers we can see on photos of the aforementioned München shows, and at the Bag O’Nails gig on 25 November 1966. Jimi got tired of the trousers, as there are no pictures of Jimi wearing them after 1 January 1967. Jimi is also wearing a white shirt. He got quickly into the psychedelic shirts soon, as the last time we can see him wearing a regular white shirt is on 7 January 1967 during his Manchester concert. [If this is really a white shirt I can’t say, as the pics are black & white.]

The Iron Cross doesn’t tell us very much. It was bought in München, and Jimi wore that right up to the end of January. 

Back to the military jacket of Jimi. In Univibes issue 61/62 there is a 7-page special about this coat. Great read, especially for fashionistas like me. Caesar quite rightly so noticed that the TOTP photos show Jimi WITH epaulettes on the shoulders of this jacket, the only occasion known. And then it struck me. The first time photographic evidence of Jimi wearing this coat is on 9 January 1967, during a Bruce Fleming photo session at his studio, and later that evening during a photo session with Napier Russell at the 7 1/2 Club. Photos of both sessions show Jimi wearing the military jacket WITHOUT the epaulettes. That means that Jimi [or Chas, or Fleming] removed the epaulettes on the 9th, either because he didn’t like them, or because it looked better on camera. If you zoom in on one of the photos of the Fleming session you can even see the sowing thread sticking out of Jimi’s shoulders where he ripped off the epaulettes! Caesar’s assumption that the photos of Jimi with the epaulettes are from TOTP of 18 January would have meant that he ripped them off on the 9th, sew them back on on the 18th for the TOTP show, and ripped them off again for his show at the Marquee on 24 January. Just just too much ripping for me!

Also it would have meant that the entire band whipped out their old ’66 outfits, just for this TOTP show of the 18th!

In conclusion: the photos of the TOTP by Harry Goodwin and others are from the TOTP show of 29 December 1966. The clothes of all three members fit that time frame. Jimi bought the Military jacket likely at the end of December 1966, did the TOTP show, didn’t like the epaulettes, and removed them after the show, or prior to the photo call on 9 January.

Now that I solved this mystery... where the hell are the photos of the TOTP show of 18 January 1967?! 

© Ben Valkhoff 2012.


  1. Awesome inspector Columbo ! Congratulations my friend !

  2. Great ! Rolling Stone France who is preparing a special issue just asked me if the trio shot was from 1966 or 1967. I was going to answer 1967......

    Thanks again Ben !
    I stay tuned

  3. Thanks for your research. What you say makes sense.