Jimi Hendrix was a unique, one of a kind artist that sadly departed the world painfully too soon when he joined the ’27 club’ on September 18th, 1970. Since his death, the world has never been graced by a guitarist as talented. Seeing Hendrix perform live must have been like an out-of-body experience and one I could only dream of. Thankfully, there is an abundance of live footage of the rock god and this video of him performing ‘Hey Joe’ might well be his greatest ever solo.
Even now, some 50 years on, there is still the icon of Hendrix looming above the genre of rock music. His story is all too short but utterly unique. Arriving in London in 1966, Hendrix soon became a wild whisper among the glitterati of the thriving sixties music scene. His innovative way of playing the guitar had sent shivers down the spines of the leading court of guitar heroes and his presence was beginning to make waves. Soon enough, Hendrix was the talk of the town.
Hendrix quickly became the biggest star on the planet and for good reason. On the fretboard he wasn’t just technically proficient, he was creative and artistic, he made sounds on his guitar that many would struggle to handle creating with a laptop and a software programme. Equally, he treated his live shows like a playground, the crowd were none the wiser as to what tricks he would have up his sleeve that he would unleash on the audience who were raring to see the hottest act in the world.
For this version of ‘Hey Joe’, Hendrix unleashes a furious solo that leaves the crowd looking bewildered, shocked and as they’ve transcended into heaven. He was a talent that nobody has managed to replicate or come close to following over the last 50 years, he mastered his own style which told stories in a way that words can’t come close to doing.
Alex Lifeson from Rush once explained why he admires Hendrix’s prowess whilst discussing his mercurial version of Bob Dylan’s ‘All Along The Watchtower’ — which like ‘Hey Joe’ was a cover that saw Jimi manage to elevate dramatically. “Hendrix took a Bob Dylan folk song and turned it into a symphony. The acoustic guitar on this song [played by Dave Mason] has such beautiful compression,” Lifeson said.
Adding: “It doesn’t slap you; it caresses you. This song grabs your heart and sails away with it; it sounds unlike anything anyone has ever done. That was the magic of Hendrix: even if you copied what he recorded and tried to play like him, it could never be the same.”
The last sixty seconds of ‘Hey Joe’ from the below clip will shake every last fibre in your body as Hendrix delivers the ultimate masterclass in the guitar. Who knows if the world will ever see someone who has the sheer talent of a Jimi Hendrix ever again but for now, just take a few minutes out to enjoy this utter delight.