Sounds Local: A rare Hendrix experience at Hawks & Reed Friday

  • Photographer Nona Hatay would listen to Jimi Hendrix’s music over and over and try to get more energy in the pictures and merge the music into her work. Through hand-painting, solarizing, multi-printing and toning, she took her photos to a whole new dimension. Submitted photo/Nona Hatay


  • Joseph Hero photo Joseph Hero photo


For the Recorder
Thursday, May 17, 2018

On May 18, 1969, freelance photographer Nona Hatay was assigned to photograph Jimi Hendrix performing at Madison Square Garden. As a Hendrix fan, she was thrilled to have the chance to capture images of the musical genius at work. But little did she know at the time that she was about to embark on lifelong artistic journey that would establish her as one of the foremost Hendrix photographers.

“I had no idea what would happen — all I knew is that I thought he was wonderful,” said Hatay in a recent phone interview. “At that time he was blowing people’s minds, and I loved his music because it was different.”

Hendrix died in September 1970 and has gone on to become one of the most revered and respected musicians the history of rock music. Hatay, who now resides in Northampton, has helped to keep his spirit alive with her experimental photographs that capture the energy and artistry that was Jimi Hendrix.

Hatay’s work has been exhibited all over the world and two books of her photos have been published. The Hard Rock Cafe International has a large collection of her limited-edition prints and some hand-painted originals in 23 of their restaurants located around the globe.

Hendrix by Hatay, an exhibit featuring over 50 classic, rare and unseen photographs, will take place Friday night beginning at 6:30 p.m. at Hawks & Reed Performing Arts Center in Greenfield. The evening will also feature a special appearance by Vernon Reid’s Band of Gypsys Revisited. The band, which features guitar great Vernon Reid, was inspired by Hendrix’s post-Experience group, the Band of Gypsys and their rock-meets-funk sound. In concert, the band revisits and refreshes the “Band of Gypsys Live at The Fillmore East” recording. This band only performs together on rare occasions.

The Hendrix by Hatay exhibit commemorates the 49th anniversary of the New York concert she photographed.

“It’s the first time that I have ever gotten all my work out, organized it and put it in sequential order,” Hatay said. The exhibit features the evolution of her artwork that was inspired by the photographs she took of Hendrix.

Hatay didn’t start work on her Hendrix photographs until well after his death.

“After he died, I put my negatives away. Everyone was jumping on the band wagon and getting their pictures out there. I did just the opposite,” Hatay said. “But in the mid-’70s, I was listening to ‘Voodoo Child’ and realized he had so many layers to his music, and these are just plain pictures and there’s more to it. So that’s where I went into the dark room and started experimenting.”

She would listen to Hendrix’s music over and over and try to get more energy in the pictures and merge the music into her work. Through hand-painting, solarizing, multi-printing and toning, she took her photos to a whole new dimension.

She showed some of her work to Hendrix’s acquaintances like B.B. King and Experience bassist Noel Redding. They loved what she was doing and offered their encouragement.

“They realized that I was genuine and they shared their stories of Jimi, which was helpful” she said.

Over the years, there were times when she felt she was done with the Hendrix photos, but then some new inspiration would come along and she was on to the next phase.

As photo technology evolved, Hatay enlarged the pictures and created a collection of hand-painted giclee prints. Her work has grown to the point where she is able to apply the Hendrix images to leather and fabric, and Hatay has been working on a clothing line and accessory line.

“You can do anything with Hendrix,” she said of her work.

Hatay pointed out that one of the interesting things about the exhibit, particularly to young people, is that this work was all done manually, long before the days of software like Photoshop.

And based on attendance at her past exhibits, there will be young people attending as new generations continue to discover Hendrix’s music.

“These kids are now into something that their grandparents were into,” she said with a laugh.

“His music remains fresh and all different types of people enjoy it. I don’t think he ever expected that.”

Hatay plans to take the Hendrix by Hatay exhibit on tour, but is pleased to open it at Hawks & Reed, and feels the 299 Main St., Greenfield, has the perfect environment for a show like this. And what started out as an exhibit has turned into a full evening of events.

When her friend, Andre Lassalle, who is a guitarist in Vernon Reid’s Band of Gypsys, heard of this show, he called Hatay and said the band wanted to play the event.

“So Vernon Reid is coming up to Greenfield for my show and they are going to be playing Hendrix music,” Hatay said.

Reid is a gifted guitarist who rose to stardom in the 1980s as a member of the band Living Colour. In 2004, Reid, who cites Hendrix as a major influence, made Rolling Stone magazine’s list of the 100 greatest guitarist of all time. The band, which in addition to Reid and Lassalle includes drummer James “Biscuit” Rouse, and bassist Jared Michael Nickerson look forward to bringing their “funk and roll ruckus” to this event.

There will also be music provided by local psychedelic soul band, The Medicinal Purpose, as well as a Purple Haze fashion show.

“The fashion show is going to be a fun interlude between the reception and the music,” Hatay said. “I’ve got 20 people who are going to be rocking Purple Haze fashions.”

This promises to be a night of people coming together over their love of Jimi Hendrix.

“The Hendrix connection is magical,” Hatay said. “I’m grateful for the artistic inspiration he has given me, but what’s really great is the people contact. It doesn’t matter what age, race or where you come from — if you’re both into Jimi Hendrix, it’s like, ‘Bing!’ It’s unifying and that’s something that Jimi would love.”

Tickets are $20 in advance and available at www.hawksandreed.com, $25 at the door. Reception with Nona Hatay is from 6:30 to 8 p.m., with the fashion show at 8 p.m. Music begins at 8:30 p.m.

For more information visit: www.hendrixbyhatayexhibit.com.

Sheryl Hunter is a music writer who lives in Easthampton. Her work has appeared in various regional and national magazines.
You can contact her at