Voodoo Child (Slight Return) – Jimi Hendrix

jimi-hendrixJimi Hendrix was an American guitarist, singer and songwriter whose guitar playing was influential on rock music. After initial success in Europe, he achieved fame in the USA following his 1967 performance at the Monterey Pop Festival. Later, Hendrix headlined the iconic 1969 Woodstock Festival.

Hendrix often favored raw overdriven amplifiers with high gain and treble and helped develop the previously undesirable technique of guitar feedback. Hendrix, along with bands such as Cream was one of the musicians who popularized the wah-wah pedal in mainstream rock which he often used to deliver an exaggerated pitch in his solos, particularly with high bends and use of legato based around the pentatonic scale. He was influenced by blues artists such as B. B. King, Muddy Waters, Howlin’ Wolf, Albert King, and Elmore James, rhythm and blues and soul guitarists Curtis Mayfield, Steve Cropper, as well as by some modern jazz. In 1966, Hendrix, who played and recorded with Little Richard’s band from 1964 to 1965, was quoted as saying, “I want to do with my guitar what Little Richard does with his voice.”

Carlos Santana has suggested that Hendrix’ music may have been influenced by his Native American heritage. As a record producer, Hendrix also broke new ground in using the recording studio as an extension of his musical ideas. He was one of the first to experiment with stereophonic and phasing effects for rock recording.

Hendrix won many of the most prestigious rock music awards in his lifetime, and has been posthumously awarded many more, including being inducted into the US Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1992 and the UK Music Hall of Fame in 2005. An English Heritage “Blue plaque” was erected in his name on his former residence at Brook Street, London, in September 1997. A star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame (at 6627 Hollywood Blvd.) was dedicated in 1994. In 2006, his debut US album, Are You Experienced, was inducted into the United States National Recording Registry, and Rolling Stone named Hendrix the top guitarist on its list of the 100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time in 2003.

Voodoo Child ( Slight Return)

The song was recorded in 1968, and was re-released as a single after Hendrix’s death in 1970. It was the A side on a three-track record, and reached Number 1 in the UK. It was catalogued as “Voodoo Chile” (Track 2095 001), and that is the title which appears on the single and is the title referred to officially. This obviously confuses it with the 15-minute song on the album Electric Ladyland. The B-side of the single featured two of his previous hits: “Hey Joe” and “All Along the Watchtower”.

The genesis of “Voodoo Child (Slight Return)” was essentially in “Voodoo Chile”, a long blues jam featuring guest Steve Winwood  On May 3, 1968 (the day after “Voodoo Chile”‘s recording), a crew from ABC filmed the Jimi Hendrix Experience while they played. As Hendrix explained it:

[S]omeone was filming when we started doing [Voodoo Child]. We did that about three times because they wanted to film us in the studio, to make us-“Make it look like you’re recording, boys”-one of them scenes, you know, so, “OK, let’s play this in E, a-one, a-two, a-three,” and then we went into “Voodoo Child”. (Technically, the track is in Eb — Jimi tuned down one half step on everything he recorded after experimenting with Eb standard tuning while recording Little Wing, as he discovered he preferred it to standard E tuning.)

The song became one of Hendrix’s staples in live performances and would vary in length from 7 to 18 minutes. Notable live performances were at Woodstock and during his 1969 show at the Royal Albert Hall, originally released on the posthumous Hendrix in the West album, later re-released on the Experienced Box Set. On the Band of Gypsys live album Live at the Fillmore East, Hendrix refers to the song as the Black Panthers’ national anthem.

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Well, I stand up next to a mountain
And I chop it down with the edge of my hand

Yeah

Well, I stand up next to a mountain
And I chop it down with the edge of my hand
Well, I pick up all the pieces and make an island
Might even raise a little sand

Yeah

’cause I’m a voodoo child
Lord knows I’m a voodoo child baby
I want to say one more last thing
I didn’t mean to take up all your sweet time
I’ll give it right back to ya one of these days

Hahaha

I said I didn’t mean to take up all your sweet time
I’ll give it right back one of these days

Oh yeah

If I don’t meet you no more in this world then uh
I’ll meet ya on the next one
And don’t be late
Don’t be late

’cause I’m a voodoo child voodoo child
Lord knows I’m a voodoo child

Hey hey hey

I’m a voodoo child baby
I don’t take no for an answer

Question no
Yeah

  • Audio from the 1999 album, Live at the Filmore East Recorded December 31, 1969:


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About DJ Allyn

DJ Allyn is a burned out radio guy who went on to become a burned out sound engineer for a few Seattle area grunge bands in the 1980s and 1990s. Left the madness of worldwide tours with bands, cleaned up my act and went into the relative sanity of sound engineering for television series. Currently working as the Director of Sound for a television series being filmed in North Vancouver, British Columbia. I am always on the lookout for interesting videos, old music, and fun.

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