The 10 Best Jimi Hendrix Songs of All-Time
James “Jimi” Marshall Hendrix was born on November 27, 1942, in Seattle. Growing up, he had an interest in music and art yet couldn’t read music. Not being able to read music helped him focus on the sound and not necessarily the notes. Additionally, he taught himself to play guitar. His earliest influences included B.B. King, Muddy Waters, Howlin’ Wolf, Buddy Holly, and Robert Johnson. According to Jimi Hendrix, one day, his father came home after asking him to sweep the house and noticed many broom straw all over the place. When he asked Jimi why he didn’t clean the floor, he learned Jimi had used the broom as a guitar to practice. In 1958, his father bought him a guitar, and Hendrix started his band, The Velvetones. Three months later, he left the group and started working on other musical projects. His first electric guitar was a Supro Ozark 1560S.
His father bought him, used when he joined The Rocking Kings. Hendrix enlisted in the army in 1961. While stationed at Fort Campbell, Kentucky, he created the group The King Casuals with Billy Cox. Shortly after, the military discharged him after a parachute accident. After he left the army, he started playing session gigs under the name Jimmy James. At the end of 1965, he’d already played with headlines like Tina Turner, Sam Cooke, the Isley Brothers. Additionally, he played with Little Richard, whose band he left to start Jimmy James and the Blue Flames, the first time he played lead guitar. During 1965 and 1966, he played small venues in Greenwich Village. He met Animals bassist Chas Chandler, who asked him to go to London and start a new band. Chandler changed Hendrix’s name to Jimi, and with the addition of drummer Mitch Mitchell and bassist Noel Redding, the Jimi Hendrix Experience began. The group’s first song Hey Joe topped the UK charts at #6, stayed there for ten weeks. The follow-up was the group’s first album, Are You Experienced.
The Jimi Hendrix band became famous in the United Kingdom. Yet, it wasn’t until they returned to the United States that Hendrix’s career began. On the stage of the Monterey Pop Festival, he dominated the crowd with Wild THing. From that moment, the group became a top-grossing act globally. In 1968 he built his recording studio, Electric Ladyland Studios studios in New York City. His next project was also titled “Electric Ladyland,” his most ambitious to date. The project’s intensity was too much for the band, and they split in 1969. Hendrix continued his career. After becoming part of an electric group, Gypsy Sun & Rainbows, he played Woodstock alongside Mitch Mitchell, Billy Cox, Juma Sultan, and Jerry Velez. They performed four New Year’s posthumously released as Band of Gypsys in the mid-70s and Hendrix live in 1999. During 1970 he reunited The Jimi Hendrix experience and recorded several tracks for “First Rays of The New Rising Sun.” Sadly, Hendrix never completed the project. On September 18, 1970, he died after taking nine sleeping pills. Even though his career ended too soon, Jimi Hendrix remains one of the essential musical artists, shaping what we know as Rock and Roll. These are the top 10 best Jimi Hendrix songs of all time.
10. Are You Experienced?
Even though Hendrix often used the phrase when curious if people did drugs, he later said that wasn’t the meaning in these lyrics. Instead, it’s a song about being at peace with yourself. Guitar, bass, and drum parts are backward.
9. Red House
Hendrix wrote this song before gaining commercial success. He lived with a friend in an apartment with red walls, the inspiration for this song. However, many rumors persist about the real motivation, including one of his girlfriend’s houses being red and a Hopi legend about a mysterious red city.
8. Castles Made of Sand
Hendrix let this song’s lyrics speak for him since he didn’t like doing press conferences. He played lead guitar backward, then rewound the song to get the end effect. Instead of using the lyrics to this song, he read them much like a poem.
“Angel” is a dream Hendrix had about his mother. In the dream, she asked Hendrix to join her. He started recording this song in 1967. However, he never completed the piece until several months before he died. Mitch Mitchell used a variable frequency oscillator to achieve the sound, didn’t like it, and recorded the song with new instrumentation after Hendrix died.
6. Voodoo Chile
This song is over twenty minutes long, an impromptu jam session at Record Plant in New York City. The next day, they tailored the music a bit, becoming “Voodoo Child (Slight Return).”
5. The Wind Cries Mary
Hendrix wrote this song in 1967. He was dating Kathy Mary Etchingham, and the pair got into a fight. Etchingham left the apartment for several days. During the time Hendrix wrote this song as a way of making up.
4. Foxy Lady
No one knows who the titular woman is who inspired the song’s lyrics. Some say it’s Heather Taylor who later married Roger Daltry, The Who’s lead singer. Others think it’s Kathy Etchingham, who dated Hendrix. However, most people believe it was Lithofayne “Faye” Pridgeon, his girlfriend during the mid-sixties.
3. All Along The Watchtower
Bob Dylan wrote and recorded this song in 1967. Yet, it’s Hendrix’s version that most people remember and also his only top 40 hits. On the track, Hendrix not only played guitar and sang vocals, but also bass. Inspired by Hendrix’s version, Dylan later recorded a more intense version.
2. Hey Joe
Billy Roberts and Jimi Hendrix were part of the Greenwich folk scene. It was Roberts who wrote this song and copyrighted it in 1962. However, he never recorded it. Several artists covered the song before Hendrix, who recorded the song using folk singer Tim Rose.
1. Purple Haze
Hendrix wrote this song on December 26, 1966, at a club in London. Many people misinterpret this song as a drug trip. According to the Society of Rock, he dreamed he could walk underwater. While there, a purple haze surrounded him. Many of the lyrics were streams of consciousness. One of the standouts on this song is the first guitar riff, now known as “the Hendrix chord.”