The disastrous night Jimi Hendrix jammed with Jim Morrison and Janis Joplin

Amidst the cacophony of musical history, certain stories, brimming with drama and mystique, often slip into the shadows, lost to the relentless passage of time. One such enigmatic tale unfolds on a momentous night in the heart of New York City, where the cosmic forces aligned, placing Jim Morrison, Jimi Hendrix, and Janis Joplin on a shared stage.

The turbulent 1960s, a cauldron of creativity and counterculture, saw artists ascending to celestial heights with meteoric speed. Jim Morrison, the charismatic frontman of The Doors, the legendary guitarist and vocalist Jimi Hendrix, and the powerhouse singer Janis Joplin were among these gods of music. Though their lives burned brief and bright, their legacies endure as indomitable forces in the annals of musical influence.

The supposed era of peace, love, and togetherness in the ’60s should have set the stage for a harmonious atmosphere during this spontaneous jam session. However, discord eclipsed serenity as the night careened into chaos.

In the vibrant spring of 1968, the thriving music scene of New York City provided the backdrop for this extraordinary convergence. At Steve Paul’s The Scene, a beloved musical haven frequented by luminaries such as John Lennon, Lou Reed, Andy Warhol, and Sammy Davis Jr, Jim Morrison and Jimi Hendrix embarked on a night of revelry. The Scene, renowned for its late-night jams, transformed into a clandestine sanctuary where musical luminaries, like bats emerging at night, would commandeer the stage after the unsuspecting patrons had departed for the suburbs.

On this fateful evening, Morrison and Hendrix mingled with the musical elite, the former known for his ornery character and the latter a regular with his guitar and trusty Nagra reel-to-reel tape recorder. Janis Joplin, accompanied by her band Big Brother and the Holding Company, made The Scene a familiar haunt during their New York sojourns.

As the night unfolded, the atmosphere crackled with potential chaos the moment the wild Jim Morrison made his entrance. Morrison’s unexpected presence on the East Coast added an element of surprise to the already charged ambiance of The Scene.

Instantly, an air of tension pervaded the room. Morrison’s intoxication and brash demeanor clashed with the contrasting vibes of Hendrix, known for his shy reserve. A witness recounted Morrison’s abrupt and aggressive act of yanking Joplin’s hair, initiating a chaotic sequence where Joplin retaliated by smashing a glass bottle over his head, creating an almost Vaudeville-like spectacle.

The roots of this discord traced back to a longstanding animosity between Joplin and Morrison. Joplin, in her unfiltered disdain, labeled Morrison as an “asshole,” refusing to tolerate what she perceived as his childish, rude behavior.

Morrison, undeterred by the bottle-smashing altercation, returned to the stage, unleashing a chaotic display of wailing and flailing that deviated from the typical inspired jam sessions at The Scene. Hendrix, a dedicated regular at the bar, subtly expressed his disapproval, remarking, “Ladies and gentlemen, you have heard the sound of Jim Morrison.” It was evident that even the iconic Hendrix was not a fan of The Doors’ frontman.

Morrison, seemingly on a mission to alienate the stars of the music scene, further escalated the situation by dropping to his knees and engaging in a tasteless, attention-grabbing act with Hendrix. Joplin, assuming the role of a vengeful protector, intervened with a bottle and a drink, striking Morrison and dousing him in alcohol, escalating the chaos to a crescendo.

A surreal melee ensued, with the trio of Morrison, Hendrix, and Joplin grappling in a writhing heap of hysteria. The scene, resembling a dust-choked riverbed, witnessed a tumult of broken glass, dust, and guitars. The bar’s staff, sensing the imminent threat to their musical family member Hendrix, leaped into action, ushering in an end to the chaotic night.

Following the pandemonium, The Scene shuttered its doors for several months. Thus, what might seem like a dream-like musical encounter between Jim Morrison, Jimi Hendrix, and Janis Joplin unfolded as a nightmarish finale, casting a shadow over the fantastical notion of a jam session among these titans of music?

Leave a Comment