JIMI HENDRIX – ” Hey Joe ” Recorded October 23rd, 1966

Posted: October 23, 2016 in MUSIC
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When Chas Chandler discovered Jimi Hendrix in New York in June 1966, the Animals‘ bassist was so impressed by Hendrix’s performance of “Hey Joe.” Chandler brought Hendrix to London that September to record the American rock standard as a demo to secure a recording contract. October. 23rd, 1966 would mark Hendrix’s first day of recording at London’s De Lane Lea studios as a member of the Jimi Hendrix Experience.

The session would yield the first instrumental tracks of “Hey Joe,” one of the most memorable songs of their debut LP, “Are You Experienced”.
Once they’d arrived in London, Chandler recruited guitarist Noel Redding, who would play bass, and drummer Mitch Mitchell to back Hendrix. Short of cash for extended studio time, Chandler rehearsed with Hendrix at his new London apartment.
“When I started with Jimi, we were sharing the flat and doing all of our work there,” Chandler recalled The flat was Jimi’s rehearsal room. That was such an advantage. When we took the Experience into rehearsals, Jimi had already developed the song to the point where he could indicate the chord sequences and tempo to Mitch and I would work with Noel about the bass parts. Then everything would come together.”
Chandler chose De Lane Lea studios because the Animals had recorded their big hit “House of the Rising Sun” there. But problems cropped up at that first session.
“When Jimi first came to London, his visa had been restricted,” said Chandler. “I had received an extension, one that carried us through the date I had scheduled for us to record ‘Hey Joe.’ The day we were recording ‘Hey Joe,’ I had gone over to the immigration office in the morning to get some papers completed for a three-month extension of his passport. It took so long that I came straight from immigration to De Lane Lea Studio’s.
“Right after we started, Jimi threw a tantrum because I wouldn’t let him play his guitar loud enough in the studio. It was a stupid argument over sheer volume. He was playing through a Marshall twin stack and it was so loud in the studio that we were picking up various rattles and noises. He said, ‘If I can’t play as loud as I want, I might as well go back to New York.’”
“‘Hey Joe’ is a very difficult song to do right and it took forever,” Redding recalled in his autobiography Are You Experienced. “The Marshalls were too much for the mikes and Chas and Jimi rowed over the recording volume. That ‘loud,’ full, live sound was nearly impossible to obtain (especially for the bass) without the distortion, which funnily enough became part of our sound. No limiters, compressors or noise reduction units yet.”
“In my pocket I had his passport and immigration papers,” continued Chandler. “I took them out, threw them down on the console, and said, ‘Well, here you go. Piss off.’ He looked at them, started laughing, and said, ‘All right, you called my bluff!’ and that was it.”
During the two-hour session, was all Chandler could afford, the Experience laid down the preliminary backing tracks for “Hey Joe.” Hendrix’s lead vocal and backing vocals by the Breakaways, a group of female session singers, (Jean Hawker, Margot Newman, and Vicki Brown)were recorded later. The finished demo, however, did not immediately impress record companies.
“Chas tried to interest Decca Records,” wrote Redding. “No luck. But then they’d turned the Beatles down, too.” The song was released in the UK on the Polydor label in a one-single deal. Hendrix then signed to the Track label, which was set up by Kit Lambert, producer for The Who. Dick Rowe of Decca Records turned down Hendrix for a deal, unimpressed with both “Hey Joe” and “Stone Free.”
“Hey Joe” would become a Top 10 hit single in the U.K. before it was released in the U.S. in 1967 as part of the Are You Experienced album.

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 Wha?, Chas Chandler of The Animals was in the audience, and he knew instantly that Hendrix was the man to record the song.

It is unclear who wrote this song. Many people believe it was written by Chester Powers (aka Dino Valenti of Quicksilver Messenger Service), but Hendrix himself – and also The Leaves – attribute it to William (Bobby) Roberts. No one has been able to copyright it, so the song is considered “traditional,” meaning anyone can record it without paying royalties.

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