Today marks the anniversary of the single that first put Jimi Hendrix and his “Experience” on the musical map. The Jimi Hendrix Experience’s first song Hey Joe was released to the music hungry masses back in 1966 as part of their groundbreaking first album Are You Experienced.
It may have become a true American rock classic but it actually didn’t even win a spot on the American music sales charts when it was first released. It first struck ground in the UK where it finished sixth in its first week and became the group’s first big, breakout hit. The following year, the group followed their success with singles for other future classics off the Are You Experienced album such as Purple Haze and The Wind Cries Mary. The songs may have been a group effort but it’s almost impossible to escape the shadow of Hendrix’s insane guitar playing talents that gave the group its distinctive sound.
Believe it or not, Hendrix might have taken up more real estate on classic rock dials than commercials for band reunion music festivals and personal injury lawyers but he actually didn’t see the same level of success in the States while he was still alive. According to his Billboard discography, he barely cracked the top 20 of the Billboard’s Hot 100 chart with the singles he released through the Jimi Hendrix Experience. His biggest hit came from his epic anti-war ballad All Along the Watchtower that peaked at 20 on the Billboard chart. The rest of his hits ranged between the 50s and high 80s throughout his painfully short life. At least American music fans have done what they can to make up for the time they lost not making him the bigger star he deserved to become.