Revisit Paul McCartney’s sensational review of Jimi Hendrix’s ‘Purple Haze’ from 1967
We are dipping into the Far Out Magazine vault to look back at two of the sixties defining musical legends colliding as Paul McCartney turns music critic and reviews Jimi Hendrix’s classic track, ‘Purple Haze’.
During the spring of 1967, The Beatles were putting their final touches on one of the most iconic records of all time, Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, and it was an album that had seen McCartney take the creative lead on an all-encompassing project. Yet somehow, Paul McCartney found the time to review one of the standout singles of the year.
In the February of ’67, McCartney was offered a preview of the single which was released in March by Melody Maker as he took part in their ‘Blind Date’ review feature which asked famous pop stars to review one another’s work—there’s also a pretty scathing review of David Bowie form Syd Barrett.
It would see Macca review songs by Lee Dorsey, Dusty Springfield, the Lovin’ Spoonful, Alan Price, The Action, The Byrds, Gene Pitney, Paul & Bary Ryan, the Small Faces and The Move. However, he saved special praise for The Jimi Hendrix Experience.
McCartney and Hendrix may appear to reside on different ends of the musical spectrum, in some regards, but in others, they were completely aligned with a new enveloping sound. A fact which would encourage Hendrix to offer the Beatle a role in his supergroup with Miles Davis—something Macca sadly declined. It meant that the review of ‘Purple Haze’ was always likely to cause a stir.
In the feature, McCartney didn’t hold back when effusing with praise for the mercurial guitarist, “Must be Jimi Hendrix,” he muses highlighting the impresario’s unique qualities with a knowing doff of the cap. “So, Jimi freaks out and sounds all the better for it!” he said. “It’s breaking out all over the place, you know.”
Referencing Hendrix’s riling of the establishment with his playing and garish stage costumes, “I thought it would be one of those things that people might keep down but it’s breaking through all over. You can’t stop it. Hooray,” never one to complete half a job, Macca returns to the matter at hand, “This is a good record too.”
McCartney, clearly enamoured with the psychedelic spin Hendrix put on the sixties and the new anthem he had created, did however show his pop sensibilities, “I really don’t know whether it’s as commercial as ‘Hey Joe’ or ‘Stone Free’. I bet it is though. Probably will be. Fingers Hendrix. An absolute ace on the guitar. This is yet another incredible record from the great Twinkle Teeth Hendrix!”
When Hendrix arrived on the scene he blew everybody away in the rock ‘n’ roll circles that formed around London, though many have claimed it, Hendrix can authentically be considered an artist who changed music almost overnight. His psychedelic musings may have even influenced McCartney during the making of his masterpiece Sgt. Pepper. It’s fair to say that Hendrix was influenced by The Beatles too.
In fact, the guitarist may have been the first artist to ever play one of the tracks from the album, “I remember him opening at the Saville on a Sunday night, 4 June 1967,” Paul later shared.
“Brian Epstein used to rent it when it was usually dark on Sunday. Jimi opened, the curtains flew back and he came walking forward, playing ‘Sgt. Pepper’, and it had only been released on Thursday so that was like the ultimate compliment.”
It was a compliment that likely repaid the comprehensive endorsement Macca had shared just a few months before on his preview of ‘Purple Haze’. Listen back to the magnificent track below: