LAST SUMMER, I naively thought it would be easy to visually verify Jimi Hendrix’s final appearance in Seattle and in the continental United States.
After all, the date was only a half-century ago, July 26, 1970, just a few weeks before the legendary guitarist died. The venue was the city’s prominent but fading baseball cathedral, Sicks’ Stadium. And thousands besides my early teenage self were there. Surely many were clicking away.
How wrong I was.
All the usual sources came up goose eggs. To my relief, however, Dave DePartee’s name popped up on a rock ‘n’ roll fan site. DePartee, just 16 at the time, had used a point-and-shoot camera to snap two color pictures, one of which we showcased in our July 25 “Now & Then.” Grainy and distant, DePartee’s images were seemingly the only stills of a major event in music history.
After the column was published, an email from Scott Wyatt landed in my inbox. He had stood next to the stage on that soggy Sunday, wielding his Nikkormat camera. Proof was attached: a stunning, close-in black-and-white of Hendrix.
“I was just getting into photography,” Wyatt says, “but Hendrix’s was the only concert I ever shot. And it was like no other I’d ever attended.”
While studying architecture in New York, Wyatt held a summer job at a Longview sawmill. He and friends often trekked to Seattle for weekend shows. The Sicks’ Stadium gig was “uniquely intimate,” he recalls. “To me, Hendrix was a god, and I was right up front kissing his feet.”
In the early 1970s, Wyatt and his wife joined the Peace Corps and traveled to Iran, where his camera granted him special access in a country on the verge of revolution.
Back stateside, he worked as an architect, rising to become CEO of NBBJ, a Seattle-based global architectural firm. Retired after 30 years, he now attends Gage Academy of Art, engaging a new passion: oil painting.
For more of Wyatt’s photos of Hendrix at Sicks’ Stadium, and a few from Iran, visit pauldorpat.com.
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