Hey Joe (The Jimi Hendrix Experience)

16 DECEMBER 1966

The Jimi Hendrix Experience released their first single in Britain on this day in 1966. 'Hey Joe' went to #6 there, but did not chart in the US.

It would be fair to say that the song had already been done to death over the previous twelve months - the Byrds, Love, the Standells, the Surfaris and the Leaves had all recorded 'garage thrash' versions of this, and generally very well, too.

British band the Creation and US folksinger Tim Rose had recorded or performed slower versions of the song earlier in '66, and Hendrix basically covered Rose's take on it, with its ghostly backing vocals and dramatic arrangement. If this song was a movie, it would be a spaghetti western. All that Hendrix added to the Rose version was his own otherwordly guitar sound and splendid voice, and he took it to another sonic level. It became the most commercially successful recording of the song, was placed at #201 on the 'Rolling Stone' magazine's list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time, and was the last song played at Woodstock. Legendary.

B-side: 'Stone Free'
Recorded: De Lane Lea Studios, London, 23 October 1966
Released: 16 December 1966 (UK)
Highest chart position: #6 (UK)
Length: 3:30
Label: Polydor (no. 56139)
Producer: Chas Chandler