Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Jimi Hendrix - All along the watchtower

One of the greatest rock guitarists ever. Jimi Hendrix lived to only slightly less than 28 years, but for three of those years, 1967-1970, he was a huge star (first in England, then Europe, then his native country.)

Ever since, he has been recognized as a revolutionary figure in rock music. From the Monterey Pop Festival to Woodstock to Fillmore East, Golden Gate Park in San Francisco, The Royal Albert Hall and The Isle of Wright, Hendrix was a singular and outrageous performer who continues to influence music and culture to this day.

From Wikipedia: "All Along the Watchtower" is a song written and recorded by American singer-songwriter Bob Dylan. The song, which has been included on most of Dylan's greatest hits compilations, initially appeared on his 1967 album John Wesley Harding. Over the past 35 years, he has performed it in concert more than any of his other songs. Different versions appear on four of Dylan's live albums.

"Covered by numerous artists in various genres, "All Along the Watchtower" is strongly identified with the interpretation Jimi Hendrix recorded for Electric Ladyland with the Jimi Hendrix Experience.

"The Hendrix version, released six months after Dylan's original recording, became a Top 20 single in 1968 and was ranked 47th in Rolling Stone magazine's 500 Greatest Songs of All Time."


  1. A great performer in his short life but he left some great music behind for us all!

  2. Well said Rosie. He had a wealth of talent and a gift for innovation. Hendrix could make even "The Star Spangled Banner" sound brand new, vibrant and edgy.

  3. When I was at school (late 70s/early 80s) I discounted Hendrix as part of the heavy (and prog) rock genres that I despised for their bloated and (imo) unnecessary guitar solos. I've mellowed over time and in particular my attitude to Hendrix has changed through hearing some of his more soulful and funkier stuff. While 'Watchtower' still features a bit too much 'musical masturbation' for me I'm very fond of the Greatest Hits album I have - and particularly this track...

  4. Excellent choice Doug. I remember seeing the Jimi Hendrix Experience for the first time on their debut British TV appearance on Top Of The Pops playing Hey Joe.

    I was transfixed, I'd never seen anything like it before, I was 14 at the time, my dad hated it which was always a good sign.

    The first album I bought when I started full time work (on a farm) out of my first pay packet was Jimi's 'Are You Experienced'.

    Much later in life I went on a pilgrimage to Jimi's birthplace to the Experience Music Project in Seattle which is, amongst other things, a sort of mausoleum to his memory.
    In November this year EMP are going to stage an exhibiton to mark the 70th anniversary of Jimi Hendrix's birth called "Hear My Train a Comin’: Hendrix Hits London" which I'm sure would be well worth a visit.


    Thanks for posting this timely reminder of this great talent Doug.

    I still recall where I was when I heard of his death whilst working as a dining hall porter at a Butlin's Holiday Camp in Bognor Regis in September 1970, I was gutted.
    It was just as the season ended and I was getting ready to leave, having made an unsuccessful attempt to enrol in the University if Sussex faculty of social sciences.

    Well I assume it was unsuccessful because I never received a reply before I had to leave town when the work dried up.

  5. Yes, I think every artist who is trying to break new ground is going to go places that don't always connect, Ian. Hendrix probably inspired lesser lights to go into some, shall we say, self-centered riffs from time to time.
    But his best music--and there is a lot of it--seems vibrant and timeless.
    "Crosstown Traffic" is a great trac. Thanks for sharing that one.

  6. "Hey Joe" was probably the first song I heard that I identified back that made me sit up and take notice of Hendrix, AA.

    I had seen some of his live performance prowess in the "Monterey Pop" film that was shown at an assembly in the cafeteria at the Castro Junior High School in San Jose. It was a rare treat at an institution that resembled a prison for pre-adolescent day students.

    The great thing about Jimi was he was the epitome of cool to the older or hipper kids I wanted to be keep up with.

    Later on in high school I used one of Hendrix's solos on a soundtrack for a rather ragged Super 8 movie I made for a class about drug smuggling. (I wasn't interested in drugs, per se, but smuggling seemed a cool thing to do.)

    It was probably the highlight of my academic high school career and I owe some of the positive vibe about it to the Clapton and Hendrix tunes I "pirated" to make it seem authentic.

    The bad thing, of course, was that when I started really, really listening to Jimi and the Experience in the 70's he had already passed away.

    I need to get to that Experience Music Project next time I'm up there. I've spent time in Seattle--mostly on a job or two--a couple times and the Hendrix connection was pushed back to the stupid tasks at hand. I need to go there, as youdid, as a traveller.

    "Gutted" sounds like the way I felt when I heard John Lennon had been killed. I was 20 and watching a rather boring Monday Night Football game on the tube, half engaged in some studying for a university test.

    It seemed unreal. His "Double Fantasy" album was coming out and it seemed like a new era was begun for music. One more real artist was back in the game. And then it all crashed. All the worse that the hippest guy in pop music died at the hands of some typical American nutter. So it goes.

    Interesting how many life experiences I find are linked to music.

    What a great idea for the EMP to do a tribute to his London success. Thanks for that link!

  7. Besides all the rock 'n' roll stuff there, there is also the Science Fiction Museum and Hall of Fame, which when I was there had a lot of Star Trek exhibits. I'd imagine with your interest in film and theatre this would be right up your street too Doug. The whole experience is of course housed in the fabulous Frank Gehry structure and is in my opinion well worth a visit, especially from people with an interest in the cultural history of US and the wider world.


    John Lennon's death happened on a big anniversary for me and obviously destroyed any possibility of having a good time, everyone all around me was in tears - a bad day for the world I think Doug.

  8. Frank Gehry's innovative architecture and science fiction cinema put it all even further "up my street" for certain, AA. :-)

  9. That was a very cool film to have at school Doug. I saw it as a midnight movie at a cinema in Birmingham in the late 60s, the same place I saw Fritz The Cat and Performance...back then English schools didn't have cafeterias they had dining halls and you think you were in prison :-)

  10. Midnight movies were a Friday Night treat--the first I went to in was "Clockwork Orange" in '79. I Iater saw 'Rocky Horror" (of course) and a re-release of "A Hard Day's Night", among other less notable features.

    Fair point, AA. I shall not attempt to match my dreary experience in public (state) junior high school purgatory to what the English system could surely dish out. :-)

  11. All excellent choices Doug, I've never seen the Rocky Horror Show but I saw Clockwork Orange before it was banned here and of course Hard Days Night was a classic.

    My favourite scene was the one in the guard's van on a train with William Bramble - this one in fact:-

  12. I didn't know that Stanley Kubrick film was banned in the UK, but I can't say I am surprised.

    It certainly genrated its share of controversy stateside, and may well have received an "X" rating on its intital release.

    Yes, AA, good choice; I Should have Known Better" is the one of the great scenes and songs from "AHDN!"

    I think George's future bride, Patti Boyd, is in there somewhere in the background.

    William Bramble is "very clean" as Paul's grand-dad.

    I also love the "Can't Buy Me Love" sequence later when the Lads break out of the recording studio for a bit of fun on a sports field. A great ramble!