Worcester Polytechnic Institute Professor and Hendrix Scholar Joel Brattin wrote in 2009 about what he thinks made Jimi’s Woodstock appearance one of the most “unique moments” in the career of the legendary guitarist:
“The Star Spangled Banner” was not played on its own. It was part of a part of a medley lasting over half an hour, one of the longest such medleys. The medley also included hits like “Voodoo Child” (slight return) and “Purple Haze,” and an unaccompanied improvisation lasting nearly five minutes. Hendrix performed the national anthem as a solo in this midst of this medley.
It was not the first time Hendrix had performed the “Star Spangled Banner” — by a long shot. In fact, there are nearly 50 live recordings of Hendrix playing the national anthem, 28 made before Woodstock. They range from about a minute to more than six minutes; the Woodstock version was three minutes and 46 seconds. It was among the best, Brattin says. “And, certainly, no other version is so iconic.”