The legendary three-year run of The Jimi Hendrix Experience began on this day 47 years ago with the release of their first single, a cover of the rock standard “Hey Joe.”
The Jimi Hendrix Experience was formed in October 1966 in London, and was composed of Jimi Hendrix, bassist Noel Redding, and drummer Mitch Mitchell. Within the same month of their formation, the band recorded “Hey Joe” at De Lane Lea Studios. This single was released on December 16 that year in the UK and on May 1 the following year in the US, with the tracks “Stone Free” and “51st Anniversary” on the B-sides, respectively. “Hey Joe” was also part of the band’s debut record, ““Are You Experienced”.
The lyrics of “Hey Joe” speak of a man who’s on the run to Mexico after shooting his cheating woman. There are disputes regarding the beginnings of this song, although that by American garage band The Leaves is being regarded as the first known commercial recording of the song in 1965. Bands such as The Standells, The Surfaris, Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, as well as other solo acts were just a few of those that recorded their own versions of “Hey Joe” throughout the decades. The version by The Jimi Hendrix Experience was said to have been inspired by Tim Rose ’s slower cover.
The Jimi Hendrix Experience’s cover is now being regarded as the most popular. At the time of its release “Hey Joe” entered the Top 10 of the UK Singles chart in January, reaching as high as 6th place, but failed to chart in the US. Rolling Stone named it one of The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time, while VH1 listed it as the 22nd Greatest Hard Rock Song of All Time. Moreover, the band’s version had appeared in popular media through films such as “Forrest Gump” and Wayne’s World 2,” as well as on TV’s “Deep Space Nine.”
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