BRISTOL - A Forestville man, George Irving, was recently featured in ‚ÄúJimi Hendrix: The Day I Was There,‚ÄĚ a book published this month that features stories from 500 fans who saw the rock guitar icon perform.
The book, written by Richard Houghton, was published Sept. 18 on the anniversary of Hendrix‚Äôs death.
Irving has his story featured on pages 419 and 420, along with a photo of himself in 1970, when he was in the U.S. Air Force.
Irving, who was born in Kitzingen Germany, moved to the U.S. in 1963. By 1968, he was serving in the Philippines.
‚ÄúThe first time I heard Jimi Hendrix, I had gone through a couple days where I had jungle fever so bad that they had to find a different bunk bed for me; the one from the night before was so covered in sweat,‚ÄĚ he said. ‚ÄúThen I heard ‚ÄėHey Joe‚Äô and I swear whatever I had flowed out of my body. I thought, ‚ÄėWhat a guitar.‚Äô ‚ÄĚ
After that, Irving said, he ‚Äúzeroed in‚ÄĚ on everything Hendrix did.
‚ÄúI got to see him in 1970 at the Atlanta Pop Festival,‚ÄĚ said Irving. ‚ÄúI was on my month of leave and I hitchhiked from Hampton, Virginia, to Atlanta. I got there Saturday morning and he played Saturday night. It was the Fourth of July and the fireworks were going off behind him while he was wailing on the guitar. There must have been 300,000 people that showed up. It was the biggest crowd that he had played to up until that time. It‚Äôs hard to believe that is has already been 50 years since I first heard Jimi Hendrix.‚ÄĚ
Irving said that this is the first time his story has been featured in a book. The author, with whom he had been in correspondence for about a year, has written similar books about other artists, including The Beatles.
‚ÄúWhen I found out that I made it into the book, I was shocked,‚ÄĚ said Irving. ‚ÄúHe didn‚Äôt say who was going to be in or out. Both of my sons thought it was pretty cool and people I know from all over the country on Facebook have told me that they will get the book.‚ÄĚ
Irving said that he knew ‚Äúrock and roll was it‚ÄĚ since he was a child and saw Elvis Presley perform on television. After he got out of the Air Force in 1970, he became a roadie for a band called House of Commons until 1976.
‚ÄúI traveled with them all over Virginia, North Carolina and Delaware,‚ÄĚ he said. ‚ÄúI always felt like it was 2 a.m. and I was lugging some amps out of a bar and then driving to the next gig. I also got to be on stage with Aretha Franklin, working on a sound board.‚ÄĚ
After his years as a roadie, Irving moved to West Hartford, where he worked in a machine shop for 20 years. He got married at 40 and had his first son, then another four years later.
‚ÄúI‚Äôve gone to hundreds of concerts over the years, nowadays about three or four a year,‚ÄĚ said Irving. ‚ÄúLuckily, my youngest son, who is 26 years old, likes ‚Äô50s, ‚Äô60s and ‚Äô70s music and goes to concerts with me.‚ÄĚ
Brian M. Johnson can be reached at 860-973-1806 or firstname.lastname@example.org.