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Are You Experienced (1967) - The Jimi Hendrix Experience - All about the album ...

About the Legendary and the Greatest...

History of the album "Are You Experienced" (1967) by Jimi Hendrix Experience

Are You Experienced (1967) is the first album of The Jimi Hendrix Experience. "Are You Experienced" is the musical debut of the Anglo-American band "The Jimi Hendrix Experience", released in May 1967 by the British company "Track Records" and in August of the same year in the USA by "Reprise Records" studio. It is a bright and effective debut in the development of rock. Thanks to this event, Jimmy Hendrix became a new world-class idol. Guitarist magazine awarded the album the top spot in its version of "the most influential in all of musical history.

The Jimi Hendrix Experience vinyl cover
The Jimi Hendrix Experience vinyl cover

The VH1 television channel placed him at No. 5 among the best of all time - according to 2001. "Rolling Stone" ranked it 15th among the top 500 in all of music history. "Creem" ranked it 6th among the ten best metal albums of the 1960s. "New Musical Express" ranked it 29th. Not so long ago, in 2005, the album was added to the National Recording List of the U.S. Library of Congress.

The Rise of Jimi Hendrix

Jimi Hendrix, Noel Redding, Mitch Mitchell 1967
Jimi Hendrix, Noel Redding, Mitch Mitchell 1967

In reality, Hendricks had a difficult and long road to success. His family was poor, he grew up a neglected child, closed and highly receptive. As a teenager he received his first acoustic guitar as a present and began to actively try playing by watching others do it; he listened to music avidly, absorbing the advice of those more experienced.

At 17, his father handed him an electric guitar. As his friends at the time, who shared his musical hobbies, recalled, Hendrix learned incredible acrobatic tricks, including playing with his teeth and blindly with the instrument at his back, from his friend Raleigh Snipes, who played in the Seattle band The Sharps. Jimmy immediately adopted the inimitable manner of Chuck Berry to walk backwards, but his idol was Elvis Presley, who came to Seattle in 1957. Hendrix was very partial to blues tunes: he avidly devoured the music of Muddy Waters and B.B. King on his father's records.

Bright, musical, inimitable
Bright, musical, inimitable

By the time he was 19, Jimmy had some trouble with the police: he was spotted more than once in stolen cars - twice arrested for that. He had to choose: either a two-year prison sentence or the Army. Jimmy chose the second, and ended up in the 101st United States Airborne Division, which was stationed in Kentucky. He was clearly not an Army man: standing watch, he fell asleep, followed orders sleevelessly, frequently drew attention to himself, and shot very mediocrely. A year later the command petitioned for his recall, and Hendricks benefited from it.

And then the difficult road to musical Olympus began. Hendrix traveled around the States, traveling from north to south and from west to east. He was a member of The Isley Brothers, performed with Little Richard. It was the latter who taught Hendrix to wear shouty provocative clothes, and by analogy with him, Jimmy let his moustache go. Already in 1966 the musician confessed:

"It makes me want to do with the guitar what Little Richard does with his own voice."

Serious intent. Hendrix could already do his famous guitar tricks, playing in all kinds of poses. During the performances he soloed enthusiastically and virtuosely, which attracted the attention of the fans: they were fascinated not by the main idol, but by Hendrix. That was the reason for his dismissal and departure from Little Richard. Jimmy played with several other musicians and recorded with other bands as a guest performer. The moment came and he formed a band called "Jimmy James and The Blue Flames" - the guys actively performed in New York clubs.

In the winter of 1966, at one of those gigs, Jimmy met Linda Kate, who knew the Rollings' guitarist Keith Richards. She drew the attention of the Rollings' manager Andrew Oldham and producer Seymour Stein to the young musician, but they were obviously not happy with his compositions. Linda set him up with Chas Chandler at the time, and it turned out to be very convenient. Chandler was finishing his career as a bass player for the then-famous The Animals and expected to be a manager and producer for one of the newcomers. And they both hit their stride.

The Jimi Hendrix Experience performed at the Culture House in Helsinki. Seen here before or after the concert, 1967. Photo: Marjut Valakivi
The Jimi Hendrix Experience performed at the Culture House in Helsinki. Seen here before or after the concert, 1967. Photo: Marjut Valakivi

The Jimi Hendrix Experience and the first recordings

Chandler called Hendrix to Britain, signed a contract with him and then began to produce and promote his band. It consisted of guitarist Noel Redding (bass parts) and drummer Mitch Mitchell, British. The producer introduced the new mentee to the circle of English rock stars - Pete Townsend from The Who, Eric Clapton from Cream. The band where Clapton was a member allowed Hendrix to jam with them, and Clapton and Hendrix's friendship strengthened, not to be broken until the moment of Jimi's death.

Chandler made Hendrix's band subscribe to the newly created Track Records label, barely founded by The Who managers Keith Lambert and Chris Stamp.

Are You Experienced" (1967)

The newcomers released three singles one after another under Chandler's guidance, and they all ended up in the British Top 10. Though the first one, "Hey Joe/Stone Free", had to be released at Polydor Records (late 1966), because Track Records had not yet officially started its activity. The following singles were released there already - "Purple Haze/51st Anniversary" - as the initial release of the new label, the forty-piece had a specific white label - and "The Wind Cries Mary/Highway Chile" (May 1967).

At the same time, the other compositions included in the starting album were recorded as well. As it is customary for the British, the compositions released as singles were not included in the album, so it was released in the May version without them. The album recently made a splash all over Europe, taking the second position in the British lists, and it had every chance to lead the way, if at the same time the Beatles' "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band" had not been released, which settled on the first position of the rating for a long time.

Are You Experienced - The Jimi Hendrix Experience (Track Records/Polydor Records/Reprise Records, 1967)
Are You Experienced - The Jimi Hendrix Experience (Track Records/Polydor Records/Reprise Records, 1967)

Different editions and versions...

On the European continent, the album was released by three different recording studios. The first was Track Records, which designed a distinctive cover with a picture of Bruce Fleming on it. Another variation was the independent label "Barclay Records" in France with a completely different cover, featuring a photo of Hendrix during a TV show against the background of a psychedelically decorated graphic scenery. The authors of the project also put a question mark in the title of the album.

Cover of Are You Experienced -The Jimi Hendrix Experience (Barclay Records, 1967)
Cover of Are You Experienced -The Jimi Hendrix Experience (Barclay Records, 1967)

Finally, the third variation was the Polydor Records version - in German, Italian and Spanish parts of the European continent, with the original British cover. An important nuance - Jimmy Hendrix's name was circled in yellow-green letters, in Italy in red, in Spain in yellow. It was a mono-mix.

There are also interesting details in publishing on different continents. In South Africa, for example, Polydor removed the photo images from the cover, so as not to provoke the public with the image of a Negro. It was probably the only chance to publish the album there. A plain red envelope with letters on the back. In Japan and on the Australian continent, Polydor released the album with a Track Records cover.

Success, Achievement, Fame and Concerts

When the album was played in European countries and England, Hendrix and his crew found themselves the constant idols of many famous TV shows. During their performances, fans were invariably present - Eric Clapton and Jeff Beck, Brian Jones of the Rolling Stones and the entire crew of The Beatles, The Who. Hendrix's band began to tour extensively in Great Britain and then across the European continent. The peak of Hendrix's career turned out to be a performance on March 31, 1967, when in the finale he short-circuited and ceremonially burned his guitar in public. And then, important in the promotion of the tour were the materials in which the administration of one hall demanded not to do something like that again, otherwise threatening to refuse to hold the concert. Chandler's position was unchanged: he said that there would be no compromises.

The final concert before the trip to America, in the summer of 1967, opened with the Beatles' song "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band" from the recently released album of the same name. Among the star guests in the audience at the time were McCartney and Harrison, who expressed complete delight in their reading of the song. Although Hendrix's band was well known in Europe, the same could not be said about the States. The initial single went unnoticed there, and there was obviously no hurry to repeat the experience. McCartney helped, recommending that the organizers invite Hendrix to the Monterey Pop Festival in the summer of 1967. It helped to bring the performer and charismatic showman to the festival crowd of thousands and to catch the attention of journalists working during the event. Among other things, the festival was filmed, and then D.A. Pennebaker made a documentary that was shown in cinemas across America in 1969. And Hendrix's concert where he burned his guitar became a real legend.

Vinyl record cover
Vinyl record cover

After the festival, there were a few more good shows in the American West, and then Reprise Records wanted to release the album "Are You Experienced" in the States and Canada.

The American version has many significant corrections. It doesn't have the songs "Red House", "Can You See Me" and "Remember". But it does include three songs that were released as singles in Europe, but not known to Americans. Among them are: "Hey Joe", "Purple Haze" and "The Wind Cries Mary". Hendrix approved the logic of the song sequence, but "Red House" was removed against his wishes. The argument was that in the States and Latin America the blues is not very popular. The cover was also changed to a brighter psychedelic design. In the center there was a photo of the whole crew, taken with a fisheye lens by the innovative photographer Carl Ferris. Released in the summer of 1967 in stereo and mono versions, the album promptly broke into the lists and stayed in them for a year, until the release of the new album.

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