On 1st October 1966, Jimi Hendrix made his debut performance in the United Kingdom. He was not yet the iconic guitarist and singer who would define a generation, but still a newbee to the music world. Being buried after his tragic death on the same date exactly four years later, the twenty seven year old star had too short of a career; his death robbed the world of the singer-guitarist’s undeniable talent. Hendrix may have died forty-six years ago, but his relevance and reputation as one of the greatest guitarists to have ever lived remains unchanged.
We have thus picked out seven of his best tracks in celebration of the hero that was Jimi Hendrix. Read on to find out our favourites…
All Along the Watchtower
I’ll begin with the most controversial one, being a cover of Bob Dylan, some see it as an insult, and worse. Despite this, it’s his most played song on Spotify with ninty million hits, this rocky cover with some slightly edited lyrics is his best. It was even featured in films like Forrest Gump and Watchmen. The best thing about this track is the introductory instrumental and first few lines, which have cemented themselves in pop culture
This song exemplifies Hendrix’s true talent as a left handed guitarist, as that solo gets you pumped from the get go. It becomes unreal if you see it live or even just think about how his fingers must’ve moved. He’s not exactly going easy on the vocals either, doing both at the same time is unreal. This is the last track on his Electric Ladyland (1968), and it’s a phenomenal way to end an LP.
Those two sounds that repeat at the start of this song make it unmistakeable. Being one of his breakout songs it has a special place in people’s minds. It’s believed to be about experiencing psychedelic drug use, but Hendrix himself said it was about a women putting a ‘voodoo’ spell on him whilst in NYC. Nonetheless, the blues undertones help to create a really unique experience when you listen.
A guitarist in the 60’s writing about a women? Not exactly unheard of is it. But here Hendrix’s whispers of ‘foxey’ carry in the wind of this song. Its riff is welcome here also, almost seeming like it could carry over to a band like AC/DC. You may even find your own father doing fox ears when this song comes on (I’m not speaking from experience here I promise). This song is also in pop cultur, Wayne’s World, further illustrating Hendrix’s impact on popular culture.
This is one of my personal favourites, so if you get a chance check it out, do. It is quite unique in its sound, using a high pitched, almost kazoo like noise that goes great with the other instruments. The theme of roads/cars that drives through this one is surprisingly contagious. Forcing you to join in and get in the almost jovial spirit of it.
Castle Made of Sand
A slower one of Hendrix’s songs with a softer lyric from him and a ‘wavey’ kind of guitar do accompany each other well. Much like ‘Purple Haze’ it has a vague psychedelic quality to it, fitting with the whole ‘smoke pot in the 60’s’ vibe that Hendrix seemed to carry with him. It shows that he could really write almost any form of song and nail it as this classic if heard by someone who doesn’t know many of his tracks, may be surprised at its quality.
Clocking in at total of six minutes and twenty one seconds, this long track has a fast paced blues vibe, which Hendrix drew on often. It’s not one of his most famous songs but it’s the guitar shredding action you would look for in him. This one is difficult to describe instead of just saying “listen to it, it’s good” as it’s all the Hendrix you know and love, with his variable vocals and stupendous guitar playing
With retrospectives on the Beatles, Oasis and others seemingly coming out of the woodwork it’s important to remember Jimi Hendrix almost 50 years on. He was the most influential guitarist of all time, with his sound still bleeding into blues, rock and other genres today. He was the definition of a rock star. Long live the voodoo child.
(Image: David Redfern)