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Music

The only covers Jimi Hendrix released on his albums

Jimi Hendrix changed guitar-based rock music forever in the space of just three years and three studio albums. The extraordinarily gifted guitarist took all he could learn from his heroes of the 1950s and early ’60s rhythm and blues scene, like Chuck Berry and B.B. King, and innovated his own unique and heavier style. Not only was Jimi a true pioneer, but he is widely viewed as the greatest guitarist of all time. 

With such a label, it seems that Hendrix’s talents for lyricism and songwriting have been crowded out in modern perspective. 

Many artists in the ‘60s set off from the comfort of their beloved covers, allowing them much needed exposure while keeping their own nascent and vulnerable songwriting skills under wraps. Even The Beatles sought the shelter of a few cover songs for their first couple of albums, while The Rolling Stones only included three original songs on their 12-track debut album.

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While Jimi Hendrix performed some iconic covers, both in the studio and on stage, he never had the necessity to do so. He started writing his own material in 1966, and by 1967, he had a well-stocked arsenal of original compositions to commit to his debut album. The few covers that Hendrix did include on his albums were selected to pay homage to some of his most cherished influences rather than gap fillers.

1967’s Are You Experienced hit the ground running with original classics, including ‘Purple Haze’, ‘The Wind Cries Mary’ and ‘Foxey Lady’. On the UK edition of Are You Experienced, the album was made up entirely of 11 Hendrix originals. His cover of Billy Roberts’ ‘Hey Joe’ was only released as a single in Britain, while it featured in the US copy of Are You Experienced.

As well as his unrivalled guitar virtuosity and unique performance style, Hendrix’s songwriting abilities may have been suppressed in historical recollection because of the unprecedented success of his few recorded covers. Hendrix’s cover of ‘Hey Joe’ was one of his most popular hits and is only beaten by ‘Purple Haze’ and ‘All Along the Watchtower’ on the ranking of his most streamed songs. The latter, his cover of Bob Dylan’s 1967 classic, became Hendrix’s most popular track following the release of Electric Ladyland in 1968.

Considering the timeless impact of Hendrix’s popular covers of ‘Hey Joe’ and ‘All Along the Watchtower’, it comes as a surprise that he only included one other cover across his three studio albums. The third, lesser-known cover was a supercharged rendition of Earl King’s 1960 rhythm and blues classic, ‘Come On’. 

Listen to Jimi Hendrix’s heavy cover of Earl King’s ‘Come On’ below.