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Lulu reveals Jimi Hendrix’s reaction to stunt that got him banned by BBC

Lulu has revealed how Jimi Hendrix reacted to an impromptu stunt that led to the legendary guitarist being banned from the BBC.

The incident occurred during the taping of an episode of Happening For Lulu, a music and comedy series hosted by the singer and presenter, which aired on 4 January 1969.

Shortly before filming, Hendrix had learned that the influential rock trio Cream - guitarist Eric Clapton, bassist Jack Bruce and drummer Ginger Baker - had broken up.

In tribute to the group, Hendrix and his band The Jimi Hendrix Experience played one of their most popular songs and continued well past their allotted time.

“I was in disbelief,” Lulu told The Guardian. “He’d just heard that Cream had split up, so broke off his song to launch into ‘Sunshine of Your Love’ in tribute. The floor manager’s face went crimson, because in his earpiece he had the director screaming: ‘What’s going on?!’

“Afterwards, Jimi went: ‘Lu, I’m sorry if…’ Because he knew it would be controversial and he probably delighted in that, in a way. Ridiculously, the BBC then banned him, which meant we’re still talking about it today.”

Lulu (left) and Jimi Hendrix (Getty)
Lulu (left) and Jimi Hendrix (Getty)

In his memoir Are You Experienced? The Inside Story of The Jimi Hendrix Experience, bassist Noel Redding wrote about the incident: “This was fun for us, but producer Stanley Dorfman didn’t take it at all well as the minutes ticked by on his live show. Short of running onto the set to stop us or pulling the plug, there was nothing he could do.

“We played past the point where Lulu might have joined us, played through the time for talking at the end, played through Stanley tearing his hair, pointing to his watch and silently screaming at us.

“We played out the show. Afterwards, Dorfman refused to speak to us but the result is one of the most widely used bits of film we ever did. Certainly, it’s the most relaxed.”

The Jimi Hendrix Experience never performed live on the BBC again. Lulu’s show ran for another season, and featured guests including Neil Sedaka, Johnny Mathis and the Goodies.

Hendrix, who died in 1970, spent many years in London. The Independent’s Justin Sablich explored how the city shaped the final five years of the guitarist’s life, and learned that while the urban legend linking Hendrix with the ‘Parakeet Plague’ may be false, he clearly had deep connections with the capital.