Top 10 Jimi Hendrix Songs

Electric Guitar Legend

Jimi Hendrix
Photo by Evening Standard / Hulton Archive / Getty Images

Jimi Hendrix (November 27, 1942 - September 18, 1970) was an American rock guitarist, singer, and songwriter. He is described by the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as, "arguably the greatest instrumentalist in the history of rock music." He played with the Isley Brothers and Little Richard as well as appearing on a wide range of studio recordings by other artists before Chas Chandler, former bassist of the ​Animals, took him to England and put together the Jimi Hendrix Experience, a rock trio. The group released three studio albums before Jimi Hendrix's tragic drug-induced death at age 27 in 1970. 

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"Purple Haze" (1967)

Jimi Hendrix Are You Experienced
"Are You Experienced". Courtesy Reprise

Kicking off the "Are You Experienced" album, "Purple Haze" helped make Jimi Hendrix a rock superstar. Many listeners insist that the lyrics detail an LSD trip, but Jimi Hendrix stated that wasn't true. He said the song's words originated as inspiration from a dream he had in which he was walking under the sea.

"Purple Haze" showcases Jimi Hendrix's guitar playing and shows influences of both classic blues and Eastern traditional music. It broke into the top 100 on the U.S. pop chart and reached #3 in the U.K. "Purple Haze" was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 2008.

Watch Jimi Hendrix play "Purple Haze" live.

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"All Along the Watchtower" (1968)

Jimi Hendrix All Along the Watchtower
Courtesy Polydor

Bob Dylan wrote and recorded "All Along the Watchtower" for his 1967 acoustic folk album "John Wesley Harding." Rock critics praised Bob Dylan's version. The following year Jimi Hendrix turned it into a legendary rock song.

Jimi Hendrix began recording his version of "All Along the Watchtower" just two months after Bob Dylan released his original interpretation. Dave Mason and the Rolling Stones' Brian Jones appear as guest musicians. "All Along the Watchtower" appears on the "Electric Ladyland" album, the third and final Jimi Hendrix Experience studio release. It was the trio's only top 20 pop hit in the U.S.

Bob Dylan said that he was "overwhelmed" when he first heard Jimi Hendrix's recording of "All Along the Watchtower." He was so impressed that he borrowed from the Jimi Hendrix version when he performed the song live.

Listen to "All Along the Watchtower."

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"The Wind Cries Mary" (1967)

Jimi Hendrix The Wind Cries Mary
Courtesy Polydor

Jimi Hendrix was adept at writing rock ballads. "The Wind Cries Mary" was one of his first. According to Kathy Etchingham, his girlfriend of the time, the song was inspired by an argument they had. Her middle name was "Mary." It was the third consecutive top 10 pop hit single for the Jimi Hendrix Experience in the U.K.

Listen to "The Wind Cries Mary" live.

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"Little Wing" (1968)

Jimi Hendrix
Photo by Odile Noel / Redferns

"Little Wing" is one of the most celebrated of Jimi Hendrix's rock ballads. It includes a stunningly beautiful guitar solo. Jimi Hendrix credited R&B singer, songwriter, and guitar player Curtis Mayfield as a primary influence on the writing of "Little Wing." The song appears on the "Axis: Bold as Love" album. Eric Clapton performed the song live throughout much of his career, and Stevie Ray Vaughan recorded an instrumental version of "Little Wing."

Watch Jimi Hendrix's "Little Wing: Behind the Scenes." 

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"Voodo Child (Slight Return)" (1968)

Jimi Hendrix Electric Ladyland
"Electric Ladyland" alternative cover. Courtesy Reprise

The sprawling "Electric Ladyland" album closes with "Voodoo Child (Slight Return)." It is a five-minute song that developed from the fifteen-minute "Voodoo Chile" that appears earlier in the album. Much of it was originally improvised in the studio. The explosive guitar solo on the song earned praise from rock critics as one of Jimi Hendrix' best. "Voodo Child (Slight Return)" is influenced by Mississippi Delta blues but gives the more traditional music a strong psychedelic twist. 

Listen to "Voodoo Child (Slight Return)" live.

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"Foxy Lady" (1967)

Jimi Hendrix Foxy Lady
Courtesy Polydor

"Foxy Lady" is known as a showcase for the jazz and blues-style chord used by Jimi Hendrix referred to as the "Hendrix Chord" by many. It was the final single released in the U.S. from the "Are You Experienced" album. It only climbed to #67 on the pop chart, but the album was a smash reaching #5 on the album chart and spending two full years in the top 200.

Watch Jimi Hendrix play "Foxy Lady" live.

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"Hey Joe" (1966)

Jimi Hendrix Hey Joe
Courtesy Polydor

"Hey Joe" was released as the first single by Jimi Hendrix's rock trio The Jimi Hendrix Experience. It was a garage rock standard previously performed by Jimi Hendrix with the group Blue Flame. The lyrics tell a sordid, violent story. The band The Leaves had a top 40 pop hit with "Hey Joe" just over six months before the Jimi Hendrix Experience released their single. 

Jimi Hendrix was performing an arrangement of "Hey Joe" influenced by the folk-rock singer Tim Rose in a New York City club when Chas Chandler, the former bassist for the British group the Animals noticed him. The performance inspired Chandler to take Jimi Hendrix to England and produce the debut Jimi Hendrix Experience album "Are You Experienced." "Hey Joe" was a top 10 pop hit for Jimi Hendrix in the U.K., but it wasn't a hit in the U.S.

Other artists continued to record their versions of "Hey Joe." Cher reached the Billboard Hot 100 with her recording in late 1966. R&B artist Wilson Pickett released the final pop charting cover of "Hey Joe" in 1969. "Hey Joe" was the first single released by punk legend Patti Smith in 1974.

Listen to "Hey Joe."

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"Bold as Love" (1967)

Jimi Hendrix Axis: Bold as Love
"Axis: Bold as Love". Courtesy Reprise

"Bold as Love" closes the album "Axis: Bold as Love." During the recording process, more than 20 different instrumental backing tracks were played and four different endings explored. Critics referred to the song as the album's tour de force. The lyrics mention a wide range of colors to make the song literally a psychedelic track. John Mayer recorded a cover version of "Bold as Love" in 2006.

Watch Jimi Hendrix's "Bold as Love: Behind the Scenes."

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"Crosstown Traffic" (1968)

Jimi Hendrix Crosstown Traffic
Courtesy Polydor

The Jimi Hendrix Experience was falling apart during the recording sessions for the "Electric Ladyland" album, the trio's final studio effort. "Crosstown Traffic" is one of the album's few tracks that features all three members. Dave Mason sings backup on the song, and Jimi Hendrix plays a kazoo made of a comb and tissue paper. Released as a single, "Crosstown Traffic" was the last top 40 pop hit by the group in the U.K. before Jimi Hendrix's death.

Watch Jimi Hendrix's "Crosstown Traffic: Behind the Scenes."

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"Fire" (1969)

Jimi Hendrix Fire
Courtesy Polydor

Despite the sexual innuendo apparent in the song "Fire," Jimi told a story about its origin that has nothing to do with sexuality. He said that Jimi Hendrix Experience bass player Noel Redding invited Jimi to his mother's house on a cold New Year's Eve. He asked if he could stand by the fireplace. She agreed, but her Great Dane was in the way. He reportedly said, "Aw, move over, Rover, and let Jimi take over" which found its way into the lyrics of "Fire." The Red Hot Chili Peppers ​notably recorded a version of "Fire" for their 1989 album "Mother's Milk."​

Watch Jimi Hendrix play "Fire" live.