See Jimi Hendrix, Carlos Santana, Warren Haynes and more perform the National Anthem.
By Nate ToddJul 4, 2021 • 6:37 am PDT
This 4th of July marks America’s 245th birthday. Francis Scott Key penned the lyrics to what would become the “The Star Spangled Banner” 207 years ago in a poem titled “Defence of Fort M’Henry” after witnessing the British Navy’s bombardment of Baltimore’s Fort McHenry in the War of 1812. Ironically, the lyrics were set to a popular British tune and while “The Star-Spangled Banner” was popular in the U.S. throughout the 19th century, it didn’t become the National Anthem until 1931.
Almost 40 years later, Jimi Hendrix’s wild instrumental version of the song at Woodstock certainly put a new spin on the tune. To celebrate the 4th of July, JamBase takes a look at 10 memorable “Star-Spangled Banner” instrumental performances for this edition of Sunday Cinema.
Naturally, the list starts with Hendrix’s iconic rendition of the National Anthem at Woodstock in 1969. Jimi’s version set the bar for non-classical performances of “The Star-Spangled Banner” moving forward and the greatest guitar player of all time made a statement by conjuring the sounds of war from his Fender Stratocaster.
Almost 50 years later, another Woodstock alum, Carlos Santana, performed the National Anthem alongside his wife, drummer Cindy Blackman Santana. The performance came ahead of an NBA Finals game between the Golden State Warriors and Cleveland Cavaliers in the Bay Area where Santana was a longtime resident.
Progressive bluegrass pioneer Sam Bush delivered a characteristically innovative performance of “The Star-Spangled Banner,” which was featured in a playlist from The National Museum of American History for the song’s 200th anniversary in 2014. Sam’s rendition features elements of The Beatles’ “Within You Without You” as well as an ode to Hendrix with “Third Stone From The Sun.”
Guitarist Warren Haynes also had his version of “The Star-Spangled Banner” included in the museum’s playlist. Hayne’s went in the opposite direction as Hendrix, using a gorgeous, clean front pickup tone for his instrumental National Anthem.
Haynes’ fellow Allman Brothers Band guitarist Derek Trucks delivered “The Star-Spangled Banner” in a studio setting to kick off a Jacksonville Jaguars game in 2020, adding his signature slide sound to the tune. Jacksonville is the longtime home base for ABB family members and is Trucks’ hometown.
Earlier in 2020, steel guitar ace Robert Randolph performed the National Anthem ahead of a NASCAR race in Kentucky. Randolph added a little bite to his tone on a wailing rendition of the song which also saw Robert donning a checkered flag jacket for the occasion.
Earlier this year, guitarist Anders Osborne and drummer Stanton Moore teamed up to perform “The Star-Spangled Banner” ahead of a playoff game between the New Orleans Saints and Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The New Orleans-based musicians added some Big Easy flair to the National Anthem.
Talented young guitarist Brandon “Taz” Niederauer also delivered “The Star-Spangled Banner” during the NFL playoffs earlier this year during the AFC Championship game between the Kansas City Chiefs and Buffalo Bills. Just 17 at the time, Brandon was already a National Anthem vet having performed the song at Chicago’s storied Wrigley Field two years in a row and more before the NFL playoff performance.
Speaking of Wrigley, Umphrey’s McGee guitarist Brendan Bayliss performed the National Anthem next to the Harry Caray statue at the home of the Cubs ahead of a game in August 2020. Midwest-based band Umphrey’s McGee and Bayliss are also no strangers to “Star-Spangled Banner” performances, having played the song previously for both Cubs and White Sox games.
In 2016, guitarist William Tyler played “The Star-Spangled Banner” for a Durham Bulls Minor League Baseball game in North Carolina. The performance kicked off Merge Records Night, celebrating artists on the local label including Tyler.
Also in 2016, St. Vincent (Annie Clark) performed the National Anthem for an NFL ad campaign. While Clark, a Dallas Cowboys fan, can’t be seen performing “The Star-Spangled Banner” in the ad, hear the guitarist deliver her instrumental version as a bonus clip.