Friday, March 17, 2017

50 years ago: Jimi Hendrix released “Purple Haze” in the UK

Purple Haze

The Jimi Hendrix Experience

Writer(s): Jimi Hendrix (see lyrics here)

Released: March 17, 1967

First Charted: March 23, 1967

Peak: 65 US, 64 CB, 66 HR, 1 CL, 3 UK, 2 DF (Click for codes to charts.)

Sales (in millions): --

Airplay/Streaming (in millions): -- radio, 20.0 video, 305.66 streaming


Click on award for more details.

About the Song:

The man who some call the greatest guitarist of all time didn’t exactly explode out of the gate in his native U.S. His debut single, “Hey Joe,” was released in December 1966 and soared to #6 in the UK, but didn’t make a dent on the Billboard Hot 100. In March 1967, Hendrix released his second single, “Purple Haze,” in the UK. It did even better, hitting #3 there and, when released in the U.S. three months later, managed to at least show up on the charts, although at a measly #65.

Of course, Hendrix’s impact cannot be measured by chart performance. Rolling Stone credited the song with launching two musical revolutions – “late-Sixties psychedelia and the unprecedented genius of Jimi Hendrix.” RS500 As the lead track on the debut album by the Jimi Hendrix Experience, the song was “many people’s first exposure to Hendrix’s psychedelic rock sound.” WK Written in the dressing room of a London club on the day after Christmas in 1966, the song “captured the liberating rush of day-glo culture just in time for the Summer of Love.” RS500

“Purple Haze” served as “a concise showcase for his brilliant, often contradictory gifts.” RS500 It is “a three-minute blaze of overdubbed guitar sorcery” RS500 which sports “one of the unforgettable opening riffs in rock: a ferocious two-note guitar march scarred with fuzz.” RS500 “Hendrix echoed his screaming Strat in the closing solo with another shrieking guitar put through a new harmonic-manipulation device called an Octavia and played back at double speed.” RS500 Q magazine rated it the top guitar song of all time. WK

Fans have often interpreted the song as being about a psychedelic drug-inspired experience, WK but Hendrix has said the lyrics were inspired by a dream NPR he had in which he could walk underwater. RS500 He’s also said it was inspired by Philip José Farmer’s 1966 science fiction novel, Night of Light. It was set on a distant planet where sunspots produced a purplish haze which disoriented the inhabitants. WK Hendrix also suggested the song is about the protagonist liking a girl so much that he’s in a sort of daze, an account which draws from an experience where Hendrix felt a girl was trying to use voodoo to trap him and he got sick. WK


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Last updated 7/11/2023.

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