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DVD Review: Jimi Hendrix – The Dick Cavett Show

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The new licensing partnership between Sony Music Entertainment and Experience Hendrix has seen the re-release of Jimi Hendrix-related merchandise, including this DVD containing Jimi’s two appearances on The Dick Cavett Show in 1969. Rather than complete shows like other Cavett DVD releases offer, here the viewer only gets Cavett’s monologues, sign-offs, and Jimi’s appearances, though some of the other show’s guests are seen in shots and brief interactions like dancer Gwen Verdon and actor Robert Young.

The episode that aired on 7/7/69 (18 min) was Jimi’s network debut. He sits down for a brief interview before playing “Hear My Train A Comin'” with the house band. Although Jimi missed Cavett’s famous Woodstock episode, he returned to the show two months later on 9/9/69 (19 min); this time backed by the Experience featuring drummer Mitch Mitchell, bassist, Billy Cox on bass, and percussionist Juma Sultan. They play “Izabella” and “Machine Gun” before Jimi sits down for an interview. After a commercial break, Cavett announces Jimi left and thanks him for appearing.

The DVD comes with two extras. An image of Jimi’s original handwritten notes from the pre-interview before his July appearance where he jotted down a few subjects he would feel comfortable discussing with Cavett. The other is a bit odd. It’s a documentary about Jimi and his Dick Cavett Show appearances running 53 minutes, longer than all the segments from the two episodes. That’s because it’s comprised of modern interviews with people such as Cavett, Mitchell, and Cox combined with much of the previous video. The interviews give very good insight into what was happening at the time, but repeating so much material makes it extremely redundant.

Although I wouldn’t recommend Jimi on The Dick Cavett Show for people seeking out his music (the performances are good but don’t really stand out), fans who want to see the man behind the guitar should appreciate the humble person he is. Sitting with Cavett, who clearly respects and enjoys talking with him, Jimi reveals himself to be an intelligent and contemplative man with a good sense of humor who is uncomfortable with the praise his talents had earned him. It makes for a wonderful contrast from the wild man usually seen on stage and shows what a well-rounded individual he was, making his death at such a young age the following year all the more tragic.

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About Gordon S. Miller

Gordon S. Miller is the artist formerly known as El Bicho, the nom de plume he used when he first began reviewing movies online for The Masked Movie Snobs in 2003. Before the year was out, he became that site's publisher. Over the years, he has also contributed to a number of other sites as a writer and editor, such as FilmRadar, Film School Rejects, High Def Digest, and Blogcritics. He is the Publisher of Cinema Sentries. Some of his random thoughts can be found at
  • Dhiraj

    In fact the hint of slight anarchy is integral to many interesting pieces of modern creativity but very few had the wherewithal to goad the torrential chaos into enduring beauty as Jimi Hendrix has done. Protean persona of the genius continues to define cool, making it hard to believe he is dead for almost four decades.

  • El Bicho

    well said