The 25 Most Important Civil Rights Moments in Music History

Jimi Hendrix Performs "Machine Gun" on the Dick Cavett Show

Date: September 9, 1969

Though a live version of this song was never released, it only took a few live performances in the late '60s to cement Hendrix's record in Civil Rights history. The song is told from the perspective of a soldier at war—Hendrix's way of addressing Vietnam—but there also thinly veiled battlefield metaphors about the plight of the Black Panther Party in urban areas like Chicago and New York. Fresh off a break-up with his group The Jimi Hendrix Experience, Hendrix shifted his attention from free love to social conscience and made an indelible impact.

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