. . . While I Kiss the Sky. Rare Jimi Hendrix Audio Tapes Surface

The Experience Music Project (EMP), a 130,000-square-foot interactive music museum opening in Seattle in 1999, announced on April 30 that it has acquired 19 recently discovered audio tapes of rare Jimi Hendrix recordings from 1969 and 1970.

The tapes, from Hendrix's Band of Gypsys period, were acquired at international auction; terms of the acquisition were not disclosed. As a museum "dedicated to the creative process in American popular music," Experience Music Project will preserve and protect the recordings, and give museum visitors the opportunity to learn about and experience them for generations to come.

"These rare recordings are true works of art. They are long-lost reminders of an electric guitar master at his absolute peak, and EMP plans to preserve and protect them to honor the rich musical legacy of Jimi Hendrix," said Peter Blecha, senior curator for Experience Music Project. "We are pleased to have these in our possession---both as a museum dedicated to creativity in music, and as a cultural institution chartered to chronicle the powerful history of American popular music. Foremost, though, we are excited by the opportunity for future EMP visitors to have the chance to finally hear these fabled performances."

The recordings are of four concerts Hendrix and his band performed at the Fillmore East in New York City on Dec. 31, 1969 and Jan. 1, 1970. The 19 tapes feature approximately 50 live recordings of such Hendrix staples as "Purple Haze," "Hey Joe," and "Foxy Lady," as well as unique rarities like "Paper Airplanes," "Auld Lang Syne," and "Burning Desire." The tapes also provide insight into the Band of Gypsys, a group who played together for only a few months and who created a remarkably different, more rootsy, style of music than Hendrix had produced during the initial psychedelic pop period of his career.

"These recordings are the missing link. They are the aural evidence that music fans and scholars have needed in order to allow further study of the development and evolution of Hendrix's skill and artistic style," Blecha enthused. "Having heard the tapes now, I can assure you that additional proof of his genius comes through loud and clear."

Established by Microsoft founder (and Hendrix fan) Paul G. Allen and designed by world-renowned architect Frank O. Gehry, the nonprofit Experience Music Project museum will open in Seattle at the base of the Space Needle in 1999. According to EMP, it will combine "the interpretive aspects of a traditional museum, the educational role of a school, the state-of-the-art research facilities of a specialized library, and the audience-drawing qualities of live performances and popular attractions."