Rainbow Bridge is a 1971 film directed by Chuck Wein about different countercultural figures interacting on the Hawaiian island of Maui. He described it as “a kind of space-age Candid Camera. We’re going to place Pat [New York model Pat Hartley, the protagonist] in all kinds of real-life situtations, and film what happens. We’re going to shoot a lot of film and just see what comes out of it.” Harry Shapiro adds, “the idea was to shoot an antidote to Easy Rider, showing the positive side of the youth movement.”
Filmed with non-professional actors and without a script, it features improvised scenes with a variety of characters. When it became apparent that it was floundering, producer Michael Jeffery brought in his client Jimi Hendrix to film an outdoor concert (July 30, 1970). Hendrix’s heavily edited (no complete songs) performance appears near the end of the film. Rainbow Bridge was a critical failure and has been re-released on video tape and DVD formats. Although it only contains 17 minutes of Hendrix performing, it continues to attract attention as his second-to-last American concert and the last one filmed.
Faced with a serious cash flow problem, Jeffery approached Reprise Records parent Warner Bros. with an idea for a youth film. He was able to secure a $450,000 advance with the promise of a soundtrack by Hendrix. While in Maui, Jeffery met Mike Hynson, star of The Endless Summer surf epic, and wanted to develop a film. With the proposed title Wave, it would be centered on the Maui countercultural community. Jeffery enlisted Chuck Wein, who had produced three Andy Warhol Factory films. Wein brought in Pat Hartley as the star, who had appeared in some of his films.
Wein and art director Melinda Merryweather “invited outrageous people to portray themselves in Rainbow Bridge. They included dope smugglers, priests and nuns, acidheads, gays, groupies, environmentalists, and a group who claimed to be from Venus”, according to Hendrix biographer Steven Roby. Before long, Warner’s advance was used up with little to show for it. Although there was no plan for a Hendrix concert, Jeffery decided that a filmed performance was needed to rescue his investment. Later record producer John Jansen recalled, “Jeffery had to talk Hendrix into performing. Up to that point, he had refused to write a note of music for the film.”
The loosely documentary-style film is centered on the experiences of a New York model, who travels from San Diego, California, to an occult center on the island of Maui, Hawaii. While there, “she encounters various devotees of surfing, clairvoyance, zen, yoga, meditation, Tai-Chi and the odd ufoloist”. As it unfolds, a free concert by Jimi Hendrix is staged in a former pasture in the upcountry region (2,000 feet above sea level) near Olinda, southeast of the center of the town of Makawao, on the northwest, upcountry slope of Haleakalā. A few hundred island hippies, surfers, and local residents show up to witness the event. Hendrix performed with the post–Jimi Hendrix Experience “Cry of Love” tour group, drummer Mitch Mitchell and bassist Billy Cox. A group of Hare Krishnas chanted “Om” for a few minutes and Wein introduced the group. Although Hendrix played two full sets (approximately 50 minutes each), due to technical problems, only about 17 minutes of film footage was deemed usable.
Rainbow Bridge premiered at the Aquarius Theatre in Hollywood in the fall of 1971. The original length of the theatrical release of was 123 minutes. However, it was soon edited to cut down on the acting scenes, with one version lasting 70 minutes. The 2000 re-release by Rhino Video restored the original full-length version. Although Wein claimed that all of the usable footage of Hendrix was included in the film, full-length performances of “Dolly Dagger” and “Villanova Junction” (both from the second set) have appeared on bootleg videos.
The response to Rainbow Bridge is uniformly negative. Shadwick calls it “a snafu of impressive dimensions even for the hippie generation.” He adds that it was “so drug-addled, pseudo-mystical and stuffed with narcissistic, self-important onscreen hippies that the only hope of saving it indeed was to put Hendrix on celluloid”. Shapiro describes it as “a ludicrous farrago of pseudo-mystical acid babble devoid of sincerity … Overall, the best thing that can be said about Rainbow Bridge is that, after seventy-one minutes, it finishes”. Writing for AllMusic, critic Bruce Eder comments, “Hendrix plays some superb music in the concert sequence that concludes this documentary—the rest is all devoted to pre-new-age mumbo-jumbo at a Hawaiian retreat”. Later Hendrix producer John McDermott calls it a “disastrous, embarrassing failure … Jeffery’s attempt to rescue his own personal finances via Hendrix’s memory was disgraceful.”
Original front + back cover
A soundtrack album, also titled Rainbow Bridge, was released in October 1971. Although it contains some incidental studio recordings by Hendrix used in the film, the album does not include any of the recorded performances from the Maui concert. Hendrix’s performances are edited for the film. Complete recordings of both sets (about 20 songs) have been released on several bootleg albums, sometimes being mistaken for official releases. (by wikipedia)
The originals labels from 1971
And here´s the best bootleg versin these two concerts in Hawaii:
This 2-CD set contains most of both of Jimi’s sets as recorded at Haleakala Crater in Hawaii, the 30th of July, 1970; the first set (as only partially heard in the film, but not the LP’s soundtrack Rainbow Bridge – Original Movie Soundtrack (Vinyl Record)) and most tracks of the never-released second set. This show, especially the 2nd set, was for years rather a “Holy Grail” amongst collectors. Minimally remastered, although unfortunately edited, this was Hendrix’ pentultimate U.S. show; it’s far from being an audiophile-grade recording, (especially the 2nd set, when the winds were blowing rather high) but Jimi’s performance still shines through. According to Ultimate Hendrix: An Illustrated Encyclopedia of Live Concerts & Sessions, three songs, “Midnight Lightning,” “Drum Solo,” and “Stone Free” finish the 2nd Set, but those tracks are nowhere to be found on this release. In 2008, the Mike Jeffrey estate put out an even more complete version with these tracks as “Complete Rainbow Bridge” on the Rock Of Ages Label.
Jimi played great that day. It was an outdoor show and the wind detracts from the quality of the recording, but who cares, its Jimi playing his ass off. Mitchell redid the drums for the songs used in the movie, so those sound much clearer.
For the second set, Hendrix played new material exclusively, except for “Red House.” He also played a Gibson Flying-V instead of his near-trademark Fender Stratocaster, giving him a thicker guitar tone. Hendrix starts strong on “Dolly Dagger” and goes straight into “Villanova Juction” (here simply titled “Instrumental”). This is followed by one of the better live versions of “Ezy Rider,” with Billy Cox lending strong support on bass.
After an excellent version of “Red House,” Hendrix loses his way a bit, drifting into “Straight Ahead” during “Jam Back at the House,” but finished the tune strong with all his effect pedals working nicely together. The set ends with an up-tempo jam tacked onto the end of “New Rising Sun.” This is quite an interesting live set, because the intimate venue and relative lack of commercial pressure allowed Hendrix to relax on-stage with a lot of his newer material. Sound quality is quite good, although the drums are a bit distant. Some critics have said that Hendrix’s playing declined after the breakup of the Jimi Hendrix Experience, but this set shows that Hendrix was always moving forward, incorporating new tones and effects as well as Spanish scales into his playing. There were certainly some lackluster performances during that time period, but the Rainbow Bridge concerts show that Hendrix still had some excellent playing left in him. (by jazz-rock-fusion-guitar.blogspot.com)
And I include a very intensive interview with Interview Melinda Merryweather From The Rainbow Bridge Film as a pdf file.
Highly recommended !
Recorded live at Haleakala Crater, Maui, Hawaii, July 30th 1970.
Billy Cox (bass)
Jimi Hendrix (guitar, vocals)
Mitch Mitchell (drums)
01. Lover Man 2.33
02. Hey Baby (New Rising Sun) 4.36
03. In From The Storm 4.59
04. Message To Love 4.52
05. Foxy Lady 4.45
06. Hear My Train A Comin’ 9.08
07. Voodoo Chile (Slight Return) 7.17
08. Fire 3.43
09. Purple Haze 4:35
CD 2: The Late Show:
01. Dolly Dagger 5.09
02. Instrumental 5.28
03. Ezy Rider 4.54
04. Red House 6.47
05. Freedom 4.21
06. Jam Back At The House 7.00
07. Land Of The New Rising Sun 4:47
All songs written by Jimi Hendrix
Jimi Hendrix (November 27, 1942 – September 18, 1970)