He seemed sad. He gazed through the limousine window as we wended through the impossibly green countryside.
“You know, baby,” he said, his voice so soft I almost couldn’t hear it. “When I lived in London, my mind was always blown by this thing and that thing. One time I saw this cat in Kensington Gardens, this old dude wearing a derby hat. Total Englishman, like out of a movie. Anyway, he was staring at me, you know?”
I laughed. “Jimi, people always do that to you. Tell the truth. You like it.”
“Well, what were you wearing?”
“I dunno. My Royal Veterinarian coat, probably. The one the cops took. The red one with all the gold lace on it. But this old cat, I walked up to him. I’ll never forget. I asked him, hey man, what would make you happy? And he said, no hesitation, that he wanted to go to the Isle of Wight someday.”
He was quiet for a long time. The traffic started to get heavy. There were rumored to be a half million people here to see him play. It looked like more.
“I was just thinking, you know, it was his life’s dream. And here I am. That’s all.”
In August of 1970, Jimi Hendrix returned to England to play what would be his last concert. The Isle of Wight Festival drew more than 600,000 people, the largest musical event of its time. Less than a month later, Hendrix died of asphyxiation.