Bob Sockolich doesn't remember anything about the show in '68 when Hendrix played the Hollywood Bowl, but there he is standing on the sidestage as Jimi - head back, eyes closed and his lips barely clinging a lit cigarette - rips a guitar solo in a gorgeous photo hanging across from Tom's dressing room.
42 years later, and Sockolich is still the head electrician at the landmark venue where Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers made their triumphant return to Los Angeles Friday night for a sold-out show in front of friends, family and fans. "It's good to be back in Hollywood!" Tom said at the end of "I Won't Back Down," obviously feeling rejuvenated after a bout with a cold forced the band to postpone shows in Phoenix and San Diego.
"We wanna dedicate this next one to all our ex-girlfriends in the audience," Tom said before he and Mike launched into the opening guitar riff of "Free Fallin'," eliciting a wave of screams from the 17,000-plus fans packed into the amphitheater as they held their lighters and cell phones over their heads. For a band that dreamed of playing this hallowed hall while they paid their dues back in the '70s playing five sets for fifty bucks just over the hill on the Sunset Strip, the scene must have been surreal.
Standing sidestage as the last notes of a joyous "American Girl" rang out, Bob Sockolich glanced at the scene through his glasses and ran his hands through his grey hair.
"What a show!"