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66 from '66 – H-L

The 66 records that built rock as we know it – all from 1966.

Our 66 from '66, H-L.

Jimi Hendrix

Hey Joe

Polydor single, December 16, 1966

Hendrix’s arrival in London in September 1966 sent shockwaves through the capital’s musical community. Like some left-handed guitar-playing James Bond, women wanted to be with him, and men – especially Eric Clapton – wanted to be him. The culmination of this summer of madness was Hendrix’s debut single. Hey Joe was a murder ballad, previously recorded by US folkie Tim Rose. The story of a man who shoots his ‘cheatin’ ol’ lady’ and flees to Mexico was blunter than anything by supposed bad boys The Who or the Rolling Stones. But initially Hey Joe, with its gospel backing vocal ‘oohs’ and ‘aahs’, pottered along like a regular pop song. Then, around the 1:27 mark, Mitch Mitchell’s busy drumming and Hendrix’s increasingly fervent vocals and stun-gun guitar took it somewhere new. Hey Joe is an exercise in menace and understatement; every slow-burn hard rock song of the 1970s and beyond squeezed into three-and-a-half peerless minutes. 


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