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All Along the Watchtower – Jimi Hendrix

Electric Ladyland by Jimi HendrixEditor’s note: Another post from Jim Barton, our resident rock and metal expert.

Cue the “Twilight Zone” theme.

What could be written about Jimi Hendrix that hasn’t already?

Suffice to say that in his hands, the electric guitar became truly electric; his revolutionary playing style turned thousands of heads. Without Hendrix, the likes of Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath, Aerosmith, Metallica, AC/DC and boatloads of other metal bands would never have existed. Decades after his death, “Purple Haze,” “Foxey Lady,” “Crosstown Traffic,” “Hey Joe” and a host of other songs still dominate classic- and album-rock airwaves.

But look it up: None of the above songs, not even the mighty “Purple Haze,” ever made the Billboard Top 40!

Jimi Hendrix’s only Top 40 hit was his dramatic rendition of Bob Dylan’s “All Along the Watchtower,” which peaked at Number 20 in 1968.

According to the rules of the one-hit wonder game, this makes Jimi Hendrix a genuine one-hit wonder (even Vanilla Fudge, for example, managed a second Top 40 hit)!

Even in the topsy-turvy world of the Hot 100, where ’50s rock icon Chuck Berry has to wait until 1972 for his first Number 1 hit (the forgettable, if slightly risque “My Ding-a-Ling”), Creedence Clearwater Revival lands no fewer than five Number 2 hits–but zero Number 1’s–and Kermit the Frog has as many Top 40 hits as Jimi Hendrix or, say, Janis Joplin or Rush or Lou Reed or The Grateful Dead, this is a bizarre statistic indeed.

Doo-dee-dee-doo doo-dee-dee-doo doo-dee-dee-doo doo-dee…

Though it’s Hendrix’s only Top-40 hit, it’s widely considered a classic. In fact, Rolling Stone Magazine named Jimi Hendrix’s version of “All Along the Watchtower” number 48 on their list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.

Listen to All Along the Watchtower by Jimi Hendrix

Listen to a live version of All Along the Watchtower by Jimi Hendrix

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I'm a long-time student of the history of rock music and its performers, and my favorite branch of the rock music tree is heavy metal.

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3 Responses to "All Along the Watchtower – Jimi Hendrix"

  1. neville says:

    jimi hendrix takes me to my youth days when the form of media was radio. later when i was in my 30s i bought a double album which was a collection of jimis greatest hits- wild thing, who knows, just to name a few.
    right now i am holding a cd of experience hendrix – the best of , produced in1997.the cd contains 20 of his hits.some of my favourites – castles made of sand, the wind cries mary, angel, bold as love.
    i never get tired of listening to this masterpiece.
    not to be out done is his other album which i have on vinyl rainbow bridge -some of the tracks, paly gap & hey babe new rising sun (my favourite). there is also hear my train coming.
    did janis joplin do any shows with jimi hendrix?

  2. hm insulators says:

    Good, neville; looks like your comment managed to get on here without the moderation asked for in your e-mail, which takes me straight to something called Word Press, then asks for a password and username, which I don’t have, and there seems to be no way of creating one, as when I tried to, it just clicked over to here instead.

    Anyway, Janis Joplin and Jimi Hendrix both appeared at Monterey Pop in 1967. Of course, they didn’t share the stage, but their individual performances put both performers on the map, especially Hendrix’s pyrotechnics (literally pyrotechnics: he burned his guitar).

  3. […] Despite being responsible for some rock ‘n’ roll staples like Purple Haze and Voodoo Child, the only Hendrix song to make it into the Top 40 in the United States was his cover of Bob Dylan’s All Along the Watchtower. It peaked at #20. (source) […]

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