Weekly Playlist #2: 12 Rare, Lesser-Known Jimi Hendrix Tracks and the Stories Behind Them
We’ve dug deep into Hendrix’s back catalogue to bring some of the best (and most unusual) of his rarely played tracks.
While we’ll never get tired of the timeless Hendrix classics like Purple Haze, All Along the Watchtower, Little Wing et al there are some absolute gems from the Hendrix archive. We’ve gone through hundreds of lesser-known recordings to bring you a playlist of fascinating deep cuts. Maybe you’ll find something you’ve never heard before.
There are some tracks from Jimi’s early days as a sideman for the likes of Little Richard and the Isley Bothers, a few rarely-heard demos and live recordings, and a couple where Hendrix gave other bands a helping hand in the studio. We hope you enjoy it.
- Don Covay – Mercy, Mercy (1964)
Prior to his discovery by Linda Kieth and Chas Chandler, Jimi Hendrix took on numerous session gigs for established artists. On 18th May 1964, he cut Mercy Mercy with R&B titan Don Covay at A-1 Sound Studios, New York. The single would ultimately reach Number 35, giving Hendrix his first appearance in the upper echelons of the chart. Hendrix contributes so much to what he would later describe as a “very straight Top-40 R&B rock ‘n’ roll record”. Listen out for the unmistakably Little Wing-esk intro!
- Little Richard – I Don’t Know What You’ve Got (But It’s Got Me) (1965)
Any playlist of obscure Hendrix recordings would be incomplete without the guitarist’s most notorious band leader. Hendrix played with Little Richard for six months between 1964-65. Whilst the pair toured regularly during this period, I Don’t Know What You’ve Got (But It’s Got Me) is one of only two recorded tracks Hendrix ever released under Richard. The two men famously came to blows over a combination of tardiness and ego. Whilst Hendrix claimed to have quit the band after being told he was ‘too pretty’ by Richard, sources close to the self-proclaimed ‘King of Rock and Roll’ say Jimi was simply fired for missing the tour bus. Either way, Hendrix’s gorgeously clean tone on this soul classic is a fascinating window into the his early development.
- Curtis Knight & The Squires – Hornet’s Nest (1965)
On October 15th 1965, Jimi Hendrix signed a record deal with Ed Chalpin, owner of PPX Enterprises, for $1. This would ultimately cause Jimi and his UK management a great deal of hardship as Chalpin sought to cash-in on what he saw as a legal claim to Hendrix’s intellectual property. Hornet’s Nest, a guitar-driven instrumental recorded at Chalpin’s Studio 76, features on a posthumous compilation of PPX recordings that include Hendrix as part of Curtis Knight’s backing band. Although Chalpin licensed the recording to dozens of minor labels in the 60s and 70s, this particular release was stripped of its original production and reworked by long-time Hendrix producer and engineer, Eddie Kramer.
- The Icemen – My Girl (She’s a Fox) (1966) This track (My Girl) She’s A Fox was written by brothers Richard and Robert Poindexter – who went on the write the Persuaders’ soul classic Thin Line Between Love and Hate. This song was released under the name “The Icemen” who were comprised of Hendrix on guitar, Lonnie Youngblood on saxophone, and vocal duo Gino Armstrong and James Stokes. This song might seem familiar as it was reinterpreted by Amy Winehouse for her song He Can Only Hold Her from Back to Black.
- Jimi Hendrix & Curtis Knight – Hush Now (1967)
Another of Ed Chalpin’s cash-in releases. In 1967, Hendrix made an ill-advised return to Studio 76 to record a number of original tracks with his old band mates. These varied greatly in quality, but Hush Now is a well composed blues-rock standard that brings Hendrix’s whammy-heavy lead parts to the fore. The vocal phrasing is unsurprisingly Dylan inspired whilst his dominant guitar riffs evoke the Experience’s hit Purple Haze. Tragically, another recording from this session, ‘Groovy Monday’, features a precautionary Hendrix audibly claiming Chalpin ‘can’t use his name for any of this stuff’. The ensuing lawsuit against Hendrix would endure long after the guitarist’s death in 1970.
- Jayne Mansfield – Suey (1967)
A track by the famous Hollywood bombshell Jayne Mansfield may seem like an odd addition to this playlist. The collaboration was so unexpected that many believed it to be just a rumour.
However it is now believed that while struggling to earn a living as a sideman and session musician for various rhythm & blues acts, Hendrix recorded the guitar part used on this song in a 1966 session for Ed Chalpin.
Suey was originally the b-side to As The Clouds Drift By, a single by Jayne Mansfield which Chalpin licensed (Hendrix was uncredited) to several European labels in July 1967, just weeks after Mansfield died in a car crash.
Ironically Hendrix never actually met Jayne Mansfield and presumably never even knew what his guitar part went on to be used for!
- Jimi Hendrix – Hear My Train A Comin’ (Acoustic) (1967)
A rare example of Hendrix performing acoustically, this recording is lifted from footage shot at Bruce Fleming’s Photo Studio, London, in 1967. Unlike the the 1970 recording from the Berkeley Community Theatre or the studio-produced version that found it’s way onto the posthumous release People, Hell & Angels, this acoustic rendition of Hear My Train A Comin’ possesses an endearing fragility. Hendrix’s playing style is intimately laid out in a way that invites comparison to BB King and Robert Johnson. A unique recording that stands alone in the Hendrix discography.
- Eire Apparent – The Clown (1968)
Released in May, 1969 Sunrise was the only album recorded by Northern Irish band Eire Apparent. Eire Apparent had signed with Hendrix’s manager Chas Chandler, which allowed them to befriend Jimi. Not only was their record produced by Jimi but also features him making a guest appearance on guitar on several tracks, including this song The Clown. As you can see from the photo above, Eire Apparent hung out with Hendrix while he was residing at 23 Brook Street, Mayfair.
- Jimi Hendrix – Doriella Du Fontaine (1969)
One of the obscurest of Hendrix recordings, this track was recorded in November 1969 at the Record Plant in New York. It features Jalal Mansur Nuriddin AKA Lightnin’ Rod of the influential spoken word group The Last Poets, with Hendrix accompanying on guitar and Buddy Miles on drums. As producer Alan Douglas recalled “Jalal from The Last Poets was in my office just hanging out. We walked down to the Record Plant and Buddy Miles was there waiting for Hendrix. I said to Jalal, “Why don’t you do one of your poems for Buddy?’ During the middle of it, Jimi arrived and got all excited about what was happening. When they finished, I went out into the studio and told Jalal to do Doriella Du Fontaine. We did one take, 13 minutes straight. When it was over, everybody was amazed that it came off non-stop.”
- Jimi Hendrix – Auld Lang Syne (Live at the Fillmore East) (1969)
Recorded just after midnight on New Year’s Eve, 1969 at the now-legendary concerts that Hendrix performed with his Band of Gypsys at the Fillmore East in New York. This track shows Hendrix’s amazing ability to learn a melody within seconds and make it sound as if he wrote it. The New York Times said of the performance “His playing is so loud, so fluid and so rife with electronic distortions that it resembles that of no other performer.”
- Jimi Hendrix – Suddenly November Morning (1970)
The history behind the Black Gold tapes, from which this track was founds, is fascinating. The tapes contained the most personal Jimi Hendrix home recordings, featuring only him and his acoustic guitar. Hendrix gave the tapes to Experience drummer Mitch Mitchell for some feedback on rhythms. Sadly, Hendrix died suddenly not long after and the tapes were left forgotten at Mitchell’s home for twenty-two years. A lot of rumours circled around the tapes, and especially around the reasons why they were not being released; one of those rumours was even that they were stolen from Mitchell’s home. To this day this track is the only one that has been released from the sixteen recorded in 1970 but it is still an amazing glimpse what Hendrix would have sounded like while songwriting at home with his acoustic guitar and a tape recorder.
- Jimi Hendrix – Send My Love to Linda (1970)
This song was recorded by Hendrix in New York in January 1970. Hendrix created the unusual, percussive guitar sound heard throughout by tapping the body of his Fender Stratocaster with his hand. As John McDermott notes in the liner notes to the album, this songs is a “fascinating work in progress. It serves as an illustrative example of how the guitarist used the recording studio to develop new material from the ground up. Hendrix would incorporate rhythm patterns that he refined over time by way of repeated playing.”
Listen to the tracks, plus a few more for good luck, on our Spotify playlist below: