Jimi Hendrix was so nervous at his first gig he played behind the stage curtains

Jimi Hendrix
Jimi Hendrix / Walter Iooss Jr/GettyImages

Jimi Hendrix took rock 'n' roll by storm in the second half of the 1960s. He oozed confidence and reinvigorated guitar playing. However, the "Foxy Lady" singer was surprisingly self-conscious at the beginning of his career. His first gig wasn't far from disaster.

Jimi Hendrix struggled in his early career

Hendrix knew he wanted to be in a rock 'n' roll band early on. He was just 17 years old when he formed his first group. However, he didn't enjoy it initially. He told the Guardian that the rest of the band "drowned" him out.

Hendrix didn't know why at first, but after about three months, he realized he needed to get an electric guitar. Luckily, his father was willing to pay for it, even though Hendrix knew it "must have busted him for a long time." His father bought him a Danelectro.

Once equipped with the right instrument, Hendrix needed to hone his performing skills. That was truly the most challenging bit.

Hendrix was terrified of performing during his first gig

After securing his electric guitar, Hendrix had to prove to his father that he could play, especially since he had paid for the expensive instrument. Hendrix liked rock 'n' roll, and he and his band used to play songs from acts like The Coasters. However, it was a little boring because they had to do the same things, even the same steps.

Hendrix started looking for places to play. His first gig was at an armory for the National Guard. He and the group earned only 35 cents apiece and three hamburgers. However, the hardest part of the night for Hendrix was performing.

He told the Guardian that he knew only about three songs, and when it came time for them to play, he was "all shaky." So, he had to play behind the stage curtains.

"I just couldn't get up in front," he said. "And then you get so very discouraged. You hear different bands playing around you, and the guitar player always seems like he's so much better than you are.

"Most people give up at this point, but it's best not to. Just keep on, just keep on. Sometimes you are going to be so frustrated you'll hate the guitar, but all of this is just a part of learning. If you stick with it you're going to be rewarded. If you're very stubborn you can make it."

Hendrix got over his stage fright

It didn't take Hendrix long to overcome his stage fright and insecurities. Soon, he was rock's best guitar player and lit stages on fire (almost literally). He moved to the U.K. for a time and slowly made a name for himself.

However, it's still strange to think that one of the most famous performers with such a commanding stage presence was scared to play to a small audience. Thankfully, Hendrix snuffed out those fears quicker than you can say "Voodoo Child."

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