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Jimi Hendrix, Ilkley Brewery, Fish & Chips and a Nursing Home – what’s the link?

A week ago, I treated myself to an Ilkley brewery gift box to celebrate the end of another week in lockdown. All lovely beers including Lotus IPA and Alpha Beta but one of the beers was called Hendrix.

This triggered something in my memory bank that a fellow guide had told me whilst training about the rock legend Jimi Hendrix once playing a gig in Ilkley before his fame took off. Loving my music, the beer acted as a catalyst to find out more…

So way before Hendrix became the highest paid musician in the world and headlined Woodstock and the Isle of Wight Festival, he had been discovered by Chas Chandler the bassist in The Animals (remember House of the Rising Son anyone?). Chandler bought his young protégé to England and as co-manager was responsible for taking bookings for a series of live gigs across the UK to promote Jimi Hendrix and his band The Experience.

On the 12th March 1967 – The Jimi Hendrix Experience were booked to play twice in a night, firstly at Leeds International Club and then later in Ilkley at the then upmarket Troutbeck Hotel. They were paid £50 for each set. At the Leeds gig they were met with indifference but apparently Ilkley was a different matter as Hendrix had just hit the charts with his first single Hey Joe.

Reading stories from people who were there it turns out that word had got around about the Ilkley concert and after a half full gig in Leeds, when Jimi Hendrix arrived at The Troutbeck Hotel the ballroom was heaving. It was reported 900 people were packed into a room with a capacity of 250 though this maybe exaggerated. Apparently the atmosphere was electric when Hendrix took to the stage and cranked up his guitar.

But the sleepy West Yorkshire spa town of Ikley was not used to these volumes and the police were called after complaints by locals. Seeing the number of fans in the room and smelling the herbal aroma (Purple haze?!?) they shut the gig down supposedly after just 2 songs saying it was too crowded and dangerous.

There is no official set list but attendees say that Hendrix carried on playing whilst the police were trying to close the concert down, whilst some claim there was a riot others say most people just went on their way. One thing is for sure Ilkley had not seen anything like this before!

The Troutbeck hotel is now a residential care home and it is doubtful much classic rock music gets played there these days. But that is not the end of the story….

The band were put up in The Crescent Hotel in Ilkley, but later that evening as Hendrix and his band felt a bit peckish (munchies?!?) they were driven down to Guiseley to the original Harry Ramsden’s, where Jimi was spotted in the queue ordering a large fish and chips! I wondered if he sampled the mushy peas?

So now I know why Ilkley Brewery have a beer called Hendrix!

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