13 Oct 1966 was the first Jimi Hendrix Experience gig at the Novelty cinema in Evreux, France.
30 years later a plaque was installed to commemorate it at Evreux.
C’est à Evreux que le Jimi Hendrix Experience a joué ses premières notes françaises!
Un concert mythique qui fut joué au Novelty, à l’époque la plus grosse salle de cinéma/spectacle d’Evreux. Pour les pèlerins, vous trouverez l’endroit rue Chartraine, la rue principale d’Evreux, dans la galerie Chartraine. La plaque commémorative a été installée à l’occasion de la commémoration des 30 ans du concert.
Notez également que la plaque été dévoilé à Évreux une année avant la Blue Plaque à Londres!
I had been invited by Etienne Keith to go to Evreux, where he had arranged with the mayor to unveil a plaque that the town had erected at the site of the Novelty cinema (which is now the Chartraine shopping centre in the high street).
I was sworn to secrecy because Noel was to perform at a commemorative concert at the new venue called ‘Le Cadran’ and we were to surprise him with him and the mayor of Evreux unveiling the plaque.
We drove down leaving home early and went through the Channel tunnel and got to Evreux in the early afternoon.
We met up with Noel and his girlfriend Candace at the hotel. Noel insisted on going to the cathedral where we lit a candle for Jimi and then went back to the venue to meet up with Etienne and the members of the two bands who were going to perform that evening. One band was French, with an Australian guitarist – Gerry Joe Weise, the other was Swiss – More Experience.
We managed to get everyone together and convinced Noel to walk to the centre of the town to the site of the old Novelty cinema. There the mayor and the local press were waiting and Noel was completely fooled. He wasn’t expecting it at all.
After the ceremony we had to visit a local bar to steady everyone’s nerves and then went back to the hotel to get ready for the concert.
Noel insisted that I should introduce him and I was completely terrified as I have never done anything like this before.
After Gerry Joe Weise (who played all JHE numbers and was very good), the Swiss band went on and then after a couple of numbers cued me on.
I went on with Etienne, who translated for me, and I said a few words about how I remembered Chas organising the concert for Evreux 30 years ago with Johnny Hallyday at Le Kilt club in London. I said it was a wonderful gesture of the people of France to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the first gig of the JHE and then introduced Noel.
Noel played very well with More Experience and did a long bass solo. He also did a speech in French which was quite astonishing.
After the concert the mayor invited us all to a late night supper with champagne. There were some local people there who had been at the first gig 30 years ago. We all drank a lot of champagne and got to bed late.
The next day Noel, Candace and Nick and I had a long leisurely lunch at an excellent restaurant in the town and then we went home.
A propos de ce premier concert, il est amusant de relire ce qu’écrivait le journaliste du canard local l’Eure Eclair après le show : » L ‘Orchestre de Johnny Hallyday se produisit ensuite dans une débauche de sons. Après cet intermède assourdissant apparut la dernière découverte de Johnny Hallyday. Il s’agissait d’un chanteur guitariste à la chevelure broussailleuse, mauvais cocktail de James Brown et de Chuck Berry, qui se contorsionne pendant un bon quart d’heure sur la scène en jouant également de la guitare avec les dents. Il termina la première partie qui fut suivi d’un assez long entracte…»
A propos this first concert, it’s amusing to read what a journalist wrote in the local rag l’Eure Eclair after the show: “The Johnny Hallyday Orchestra then erupted in a riot of sound. After this deafening episode Johnny Hallyday’s latest discovery appeared. He was a singer/guitarist with frizzy hair, and was a lousy mixture of James Brown and Chuck Berry, who writhed on stage for a good quarter of an hour and played the guitar with his teeth. He finished the first part which was followed by a rather long intermission … ”