Did Jimi Hendrix Play In Lake Charles
By Todd C. Elliott and Bam Arceneaux
The question of whether rock legend Jimi Hendrix played live music in Lake Charles is a fair one. Southwest Louisiana music archivists would be remiss if they did not unearth some forgotten rock music history.
The authors of this article set out to do just that, quite by accident, really. Let it be known that the year 2020 marked the 55th anniversary of Jimi Hendrix playing live in Lake Charles. This would have been a couple of years before he would make a name for himself, leaving the United States for London and transforming rock music forever.
On Jan. 22, 1965, the chilly Friday night air in Lake Charles was charged with the electricity of Little Richard and Let it be known that the year 2020 marked the 55th anniversary of Jimi Hendrix playing live in Lake Charles. This would have been a couple of years before he would make a name for himself, leaving the United States for London and transforming rock music forever.
On Jan. 22, 1965, the chilly Friday night air in Lake Charles was charged with the electricity of Little Richard and The fact that Little Richard played in Lake Charles back in January of 1965 was not disputed. In fact, many folks in Southwest Louisiana were at that per-formance. However, what most of those in attendance fail to realize is that night they also saw Jimi Hendrix live on stage. After the death of Little Richard, on May 9, 2020, one Lake Charles music archi-vist (and both authors of this article) started connecting the Hendrix dots with a post of a Little Richard promotional poster, or flyer, for the Lake Charles performance.
“After Todd men-tioned Hendrix was a member of Little Richard’s group around the period Little Richard played at The Bamboo Club in Lake Charles,” said Bam Arceneaux, “I started researching, and all the pieces of the puzzle lined up.”
Still, there was no definitive proof. Arceneaux and Elliott had no defini-tive way to prove that Hendrix, who had about an eight-month stint as guitarist for Little Richard, did indeed play live music in Lake Charles. At one point, it was just a wild theory. However, the theory was proven by one Lafayette man who remem-bered exactly where he was the morning after the Lake Charles gig at The Bamboo Club. On Saturday, Jan. 23, 1965, a young Cecil Doyle, who is now music director at KRVS-FM radio in Lafayette and host of the Medicine Ball Caravan radio show, was glued to his television set.
“I have a distinct memory of seeing that Little Richard episode of Saturday Hop, said Doyle in an interview. “I was only 10 years old at the time, but I know that it was the first time I’d even heard of Little Richard. He lip-synced ‘Long Tall Sally’ on the show. I remember being floored by it and his presence … and the Royal Guards surrounding him.”
“It was live — the show was done live in the KLFY studios on Saturdays around noon, right after American Bandstand, I believe,” said Doyle. “Kids danced live and Rod Bernard did the Dick Clark role. I think I remember Little Richard lip-syncing to at least two songs. It left an impression on this kid.”
So, Doyle pro-vided the photographic evidence, courtesy of Ryan Brasseaux of Lafayette, whose father was head of the Department of Louisiana Studies at UL-Lafayette. Apparently, the photograph made it into the musical ar-chives, and it appears to have been taken from the Channel 10 KLFY TV studio set. Clear as day, and to Little Richard’s right, is Hendrix in the front, dressed in costume.
On Saturday, Jan. 23, 1965, Little Richard and His Royal Guard appeared on television, live from the Lafayette studio. It would be the first time that many would have seen Jimi Hendrix on television, al-beit as a sideman to Little Richard. Back then, traveling groups would attempt tele-vision appearances to promote an upcom-ing gig. Little Richard was not, however, promoting a show in Lafayette. He and the band were headed to New Iberia to play at a club called The Oriental, which was on Main Street and is now a closed Winn-Dixie store.
And while it might be strange that Hendrix played in Lake Charles, even stranger is the fact that he also played in New Iberia. Unfortunately, neither club remains as a venue for musicians trav-eling through Louisiana. The Bamboo Club building on Hwy. 14 burned years after Little Richard, armed with Jimi Hendrix, came blazing through Southwest Louisiana. So, there is no physical struc-ture in Lake Charles on which to attach a historical placard denoting that both rock and roll legends, Little Richard and Jimi Hendrix, did indeed pass through while on their journey into musical history.