‘Are You Experienced’, which released in 1967, was ‘The Jimi Hendrix Experience’s’ band debut studio album.
Almost immediately after its release, the album became a huge commercial success, and is considered one of the most important and best debut albums in the history of rock.
‘Are You Experienced’ includes legendary songs like “Foxy Lady,” “Purple Haze,” “Hey Joe,” and “The Wind Cries Mary”, which are all included on Rolling Stone’s list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.
In this e-book, we will talk about the album, and also about the three best (in my opinion) known songs included in it – “Foxy Lady”, “Purple Haze”, “Fire” and the one who started all – “Hey Joe”.
The album not only shows Hendrix’s remarkably guitar playing, but also combined R&B, blues, psychedelia, pop, heavy rock and even jazz in a way that no one had ever done before.
‘Are You Experienced’ also revealed Hendrix as a songwriter with a uniquely whimsical and imaginative lyrical vision, one which could leap from earthy lust to futuristic fantasy with just a handful of words. Not to be underestimated were the contributions of drummer Mitch Mitchell and bassist Noel Redding, who gave the music a rhythmic pulse that fused parts of rock and improvised jazz.
In interviews, Hendrix usually gave different answers about the development of the song’s lyrics. In a 1969 interview with the New Musical Express, Hendrix said:
״I dream a lot and I put a lot of my dreams down as songs. I wrote one called ‘First Around the Corner’ and another called ‘The Purple Haze’, which was all about a dream I had that I was walking under the sea״.
After it’s release, Hendrix offered another explanation:
“He [the song’s protagonist] likes this girl so much, that he doesn’t know what [state] he’s in, ya know. A sort of daze, I suppose. That’s what the song is all about”.
No one really knows who this song was written about. there are speculations that it was written about a woman named Heather Taylor, a highly desirable London socialite who later married the Who’s Roger Daltrey. And there are those who claim that Lithofayne Pridgon, a muse and confidante too many artists at that time, including Jackie Wilson, Marvin Gaye, Sly Stone, Ike Turner and James Brown. She was also Etta James’s best friend.
Whether the song was written about Taylor or about Pridgon, we won one of the best psychedelic rock songs of all time.
One of Hendrix most popular songs, this song was included in both UK and US versions of the albums it was described by Matthew Greenwall as:
“an exercise in soul, psychedelic rock, and polyrhythmic jazz-inspired drumming”
Hendrix is legendary for theatrics like setting his guitar on fire and playing it with his teeth. This was the song he was (appropriately) playing when he set it on fire for the first time. It happened at a concert in London in March 1967, two months before the ‘Are You Experienced?’ album was released. Hendrix was low on the bill and looking to get some media attention. When he ignited his guitar, he created a buzz that grew to a roar as his career took off.
This is the song that started it all for Hendrix. After being discharged from the US Army in 1962, he worked as a backing musician for The Isley Brothers and Little Richard, and in 1966 performed under the name Jimmy James in the group Jimmy James and the Blue Flames. Hendrix introduced “Hey Joe” to the band and added it to their setlist. During a show at the Greenwich Village club Cafe. Chas Chandler of ‘The Animals’ was in the audience, and he knew instantly that Hendrix was the man to record the song.
Chandler convinced Hendrix to join him in London, and he became Jimi’s producer and manager. Teaming Hendrix with Noel Redding and Mitch Mitchell.
The result, as everyone knows, was the formation of ‘The Jimi Hendrix Experience’s’ band, and the beginning of Hendrix’s journey towards the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.