Hey Joe

Album: Are You Experienced? (1966)
Charted: 6
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  • "Hey Joe" was written by a singer named Billy Roberts, who was part of the Greenwich Village folk scene in the early '60s. The song is structured as a conversation between two men, with "Joe" explaining to the other that he caught his woman cheating and plans to kill her. They talk again, and Joe explains that he did indeed shoot her, and is headed to Mexico.
  • Billy Roberts copyrighted this song in 1962, but never released it (he issued just one album, Thoughts Of California in 1975). In 1966, several artists covered the song, including a Los Angeles band called The Leaves (their lead singer was bassist Jim Pons, who joined The Turtles just before they recorded their Happy Together album), whose version was a minor hit, reaching #31 in the US. Arthur Lee's group Love also recorded it that year, as did The Byrds, whose singer David Crosby had been performing the song since 1965. These were all uptempo renditions.
  • The slow version that inspired Hendrix to record this came from a folk singer named Tim Rose, who played it in a slow arrangement on his 1967 debut album and issued it as a single late in 1966. Rose was a popular singer/songwriter for a short time in the Greenwich Village scene, but quickly faded into obscurity before a small comeback in the '90s. He died in 2002 at age 62.
  • This is the song that started it all for Hendrix. After being discharged from the US Army in 1962, he worked as a backing musician for The Isley Brothers and Little Richard, and in 1966 performed under the name Jimmy James in the group Jimmy James and the Blue Flames. Hendrix introduced "Hey Joe" to the band and added it to their setlist. During a show at the Greenwich Village club Cafe Wha?, Chas Chandler of The Animals was in the audience, and he knew instantly that Hendrix was the man to record the song.

    Chandler convinced Hendrix to join him in London, and he became Jimi's producer and manager. Teaming Hendrix with Noel Redding and Mitch Mitchell, Chandler had the group - known as The Jimi Hendrix Experience - record "Hey Joe," and released it as a single in the UK in December 1966. It climbed to #6 in February 1967, as Hendrix developed a reputation as an electrifying performer and wildly innovative guitarist.

    America was a tougher nut to crack - when the song was released there in April, it went nowhere.
  • The song incorporates many elements of blues music, including a F-C-G-D-A chord progression and a story about infidelity and murder. This led many to believe it was a much older (possibly traditional) song, but it was an original composition.
  • Hendrix played this live for the first time at the 1967 Monterey Pop Festival. It was the first time the group performed in America.
  • This was released in Britain with the flip side "Stone Free," which was the first song Hendrix wrote for The Jimi Hendrix Experience.
  • The song was released in the UK on the Polydor label in a one-single deal. Hendrix then signed to the Track label, which was set up by Kit Lambert, producer for The Who.

    Dick Rowe of Decca Records turned down Hendrix for a deal, unimpressed with both "Hey Joe" and "Stone Free." Rowe also turned away the Beatles four years earlier.
  • This is one of the few Hendrix tracks with female backing vocals. They were performed by a popular trio called the Breakaways (Jean Hawker, Margot Newman, and Vicki Brown), who were brought in by producer Chas Chandler.
  • The Hendrix version omits the first verse, where Joe buys the gun:

    Hey Joe, where you goin' with that money in your hand?
    Chasin' my woman, she run off with another man
    Goin downtown, buy me a .44

    In the original (and most versions pre-Hendrix), Joe also kills his wife's lover when he catches them in bed together.
  • This was the last song performed at Woodstock in 1969. The festival was scheduled to end at midnight on Sunday, August 17 (the third day), but it ran long and Hendrix didn't go on until Monday around 9 a.m. There weren't many attendees left, but Hendrix delivered a legendary performance.
  • While Jimi's version is by far the most famous, "Hey Joe" has been recorded by over 1000 artists. In America, three versions charted:

    The Leaves (#31, 1966)
    Cher (#94, 1967)
    Wilson Pickett (#59, 1969)

    Hendrix is the only artist to chart with the song in the UK, although a completely different song called "Hey Joe" was a #1 hit there for Frankie Laine in 1963.

    Some of the notable covers include:
    Shadows of Knight (1966)
    Music Machine (1966)
    The Mothers Of Invention (1967)
    Deep Purple (1967)
    King Curtis (1968)
    Roy Buchanan (1973)
    Patti Smith (1974)
    Soft Cell (1983)
    Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds (1986)
    The Offspring (1991)
    Eddie Murphy (1993 - yes, the comedian)
    Walter Trout (2000)
    Popa Chubby (2001)
    Robert Plant (2002)
    Brad Mehldau Trio (2012)
  • The liner notes for Are You Experienced? say this song is "A blues arrangement of an old cowboy song that's about 100 years old." >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Tony - Hackensack, NJ
  • The phrase "Hey Joe" is something men in the Philippines often shout when they see an American. Ted Lerner wrote a book about his experiences there called Hey, Joe: A Slice Of The City-An American In Manilla.
  • In an early demo version, Hendrix is caught off guard by the sound of his voice in the headphones, and can be heard on the recording saying, "Oh, Goddamn!" Then telling Chas Chandler in the booth, "Hey, make the voice a little lower and the band a little louder." Hendrix was always insecure about his vocal talents, but thought if Dylan could swing it, so could he.
  • 6,346 guitarists played "Hey Joe" simultaneously in the town of Wroclaw, Poland on May 1, 2009, breaking a world record for most guitarists playing a single song.
  • The BBC apologized after "Hey Joe" was played following a report on the Oscar Pistorius trial, following the disabled athlete's shooting of his model girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp. (The song includes the lines: "Hey Joe, where you going with that gun in your hand? I'm going out to shoot my old lady, you know I caught her messing around with another man.")
  • This was one of five bonus tracks added to the album Are You Experienced? when it was re-released in 1997. The only song on the album not written by Hendrix, it is credited to Billy Roberts.
  • Not much is known about the song's writer Billy Roberts, who apparently got in a car accident in the '90s that left him impaired. Royalties from this song go to him through the publisher Third Palm Music.
  • This was used in the 1994 movie Forrest Gump when Forrest starts a fight at a Black Panthers gathering, but the song wasn't included on the official soundtrack.

Comments: 62

  • David Lloyd from Uk"Hendrix played this live for the first time at the 1967 Monterey Pop Festival. It was the first time the group performed in America." Um, no... It was part of the Experience setlist from the start and was the song he was playing at the Cafe Wha? when Chas Chandler first saw him playing in July 66.
  • Dr. Steven Turner from Saint LouisHey Joe a song composed by Niela Horn Miller in the 1950's and recorded by Miller on a demo acetate (Demo) by Variety Recording Service in 1962. The song was originally titled, "Baby, Please Don't Go To Town." Her boyfriend at the time, Billy Roberts adapted her song into his folk act and seeing other folkies performing the song, decided to take ownership by registering it for copyright in 1962 without giving any acknowledgment to its actual author, Niella Horn Miller. Roberts changed the title of the song to "Hey Joe." He used the same chord progressions but altered the lyrics somewhat. In 1990, a vinyl record entitled "Songs of Leaving" which actually was the aforementioned Demo acetate recorded in 1962, was released by Numerophon Records ASIN : B001O0TX58. On it, track two is the song "Baby, Please Don't Go To Town (Hey Joe). (It was mislabeled as "Baby Please Don't Go Downtown.") The Demo recording date preceded Billy Robert's copyright registration. On entire album, the main author credited is Niela Miller as the majority of its songs are her originals with the exception of the Dave Van Ronk cover, “Mean World Blues.”. Why Niela Horn did not go after Billy Roberts for royalties is a mystery.
  • Leslie Berliner from Huntington, New YorkNo mention of Love’s version which is where I first heard it. Great group with little attention.
  • Kat from OregonA commenter said this:

    "Dennis from Anchorage, Ak
    I always found this song incredibly compelling, but I also have a fond humorous memory of it. I was one of that generation who loved sixties rock music while my parents, fans of Bing and Glenn Miller, hated it. Well they put up with me playing Beatles records, and they could cope with Simon and Garfunkel, the Moody Blues or CSN, but when I put on my disc of Jimi's Greatest Hits, during this song my usually very sweet mother told me to turn it off or she'd break the record into a million pieces. Had to listen to this one while they weren't home."

    I know why your mom hated this song. It is a song about the murder of women by men they are lovers with because of the man's thrust to murder the woman. Men gonna murder their women and ain't gonna get strung up for it. It's 2020 and it has hardly changed. Women know this in our bones. Have for generations upon generations upon centuries and centuries. We KNOW what this song means. Jimi sang it just right.

    He was half Cherokee at least half. African and Cherokee heritage people, men and women, also know what murder for dominance looks and sounds like. Native American women know most of all.
  • AnonymousHendrix made the song real, and sang it with pain and regrets. It was popular then to shoot and kill your cheating lover then ran away.
  • Lachie from AustraliaBody count also made a cover of this (smallish metal band)
  • Dana from Chula Vista CaNot a fact, trying to find a copy of the song, the original version before the Hendrix cover. I think the name of the group was The Leaves. song came out in the mid 60s. Was very popular at the time. Much more of a ro9cker than Hendrix' ballad style.
  • Jonas Ruiz from Rio De Janeiro BrasilHey guys
    I listened this song called of HEY JOE but written by B. Bryant and singered by Frankie Laine, look this lyrics:
    The HEY JOE, written by Billy Roberts is look like the response for this words, Look at this and tell me what you think.

    Hey Joe!
    Where'd ya find that pearly girlie
    Where'd ya get that jolly dolly
    How did ya rate that dish I wish was mine
    Hey Joe!

    Come on let's be buddy buddies
    Show me you're my palsy-walsy
    Introduce that pretty little chick to me
    Hey Joe!
    Quit that waitin', hesitatin'
    Let me at `er, what's the matter
    You're as slow as any Joe can be

    Hey Joe!
    We'll be friends until the end
    But this looks like the end my friend
    I gotta have that dolly for my own
    I've gotta have that dolly for my own
    (Hey Joe, Hey Joe)

  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyOn January 18th 1967, Jimi Hendrix was very busy; during the day he recorded an appearance on the BBC-TV program 'Top of the Pops'* and in the evening he appeared at the Seven and a Half Club in london, England...
    He performed a live version of "Hey Joe!" on the 'Top of the Pops', and at the time it was at #9 on the United Kingdom's Singles chart...
    The #1 record at the time was 'I'm A Believer" by the Monkees; six months later Jimi would be the quartet's opening tour act, he lasted for only eight days then was let go, because his music wasn't considered suitable for the Monkees' 'bubble gum' audience...
    * Twenty days earlier on December 29th, 1966 he also was guest 'Top of the Pops' {See next post below}.
  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyOn December 29th 1966, the Jimi Hendrix Experience made their television debut when they appeared on the BBC-TV program 'Top of the Pops'...
    The trio performed "Hey! Joe"; and at the time the song was at #38 on the United Kingdom's Singles chart; exactly one month later on January 29th, 1967 it would peak at #6 {for 2 weeks}...
    On March 19th, 1967 their second UK release, "Purple Haze", entered the UK Top 40 at #39...
    Sadly, less than four years after the "Top of the Pops' appearance, Jimi would pass away at the young age of 27 {September 18th, 1970}…
    May he R.I.P.
  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyOn June 25th 1966, the Leaves performed at the "Beach Boys Summer Spectacular" concert* at the Hollywood Bowl in Los Angeles...
    At the time the California quintet's version of "Hey Joe!" was at #34 on Billboard's Hot Top 100 chart; eight days later on July 3rd it would peak at #31 for 1 week {See next post below}...
    * Must have been a great concert; besides the Beach Boys other acts were the Byrds, the Lovin' Spoonful, Percy Sledge, Chad & Jeremy, Love, the Outsiders, and Capt. Beefheart.
  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyOn May 15th 1966, "Hey Joe" by the Leaves entered Billboard's Hot Top 100 chart at position #84; seven weeks later on July 3rd it would peak at #31 {for 1 week}, the following week it fell to position #54 and that was its ninth and final week on the Top 100...
    It was the groups’ only Top 100 record.
  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyOn July 9th 1966, the Leaves performed "Hey Joe!" on the ABC-TV program 'American Bandstand'...
    It was the quintet's only Top 100 record.
  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyOn December 29th 1966, the Jimi Hendrix Experience performed "Hey Joe" on the BBC-TV program 'Top Of The Pops'...
    And in that year it peaked at #6 on the United Kingdom's Singles chart...
    In the U.S.A. it was released as the B-side of "Foxey Lady" ("Foxey Lady" entered Billboard's Hot Top 100 chart on December 17th, 1967 for a four week stay, peaking at #67)...
    The first charted version was by the Leaves; their version entered the Top 100 on May 15th, 1966 and on July 3rd it peaked at #31...
    Later in the 1960s two other covered versions charted; Cher (#94 in 1967) and Wilson Pickett (#59 in 1969)...
    R.I.P. Mr. Hendrix, born Johnny Allen Hendrix, (1942 - 1970).
  • Kirsten from New York, NyDaniel, Genoa, OH, that's really creepy.

    Willy DeVille's insane Mariachi version of this blows my mind! Of course that's taking Hendrix as the canonical version and reference point. As soon as I realized what he was doing I decided DeVille is a genius.
  • Richard Buck from Crystal Lake, IlIn my opinion, The Leaves did it first and did it the best. You could hear the song being played by every garage band back in the late 60's!
  • Rich from San Jose, CaAccording to Keith Richards, in his autobiography 'Life' (which is excellent, btw), Keith introduced Jimi to this song.
  • Obe from Koln, GermanyI really hate to break it to some of you guys but guitar players do not play with their teeth. It is hammers and pulloffs. Look up tabulature, for details. Playing with your teeth is something a ten year old would believe. This is a great song and I think it was done by love as some here have said before me.
  • Ben from Rohnert Park, Caduring many live versions jimmi played the solo with his teeth
  • Kevin from Los Angeles, CaJosh from NV: the Deep Durple version is on their first LP, "Shades of Deep Purple".
  • Lester from New York City, NyTry and check out Roy Buchanan's cover of this song. Also try to catch Roy's version of Green Onions. But for some true guitar playing pleasure, listen to Roy's 'You're Not Alone' album. A guitar feast.
  • Oldpink from New Castle, InPlenty of violence here, belied by Jimi's dark, angry guitar.
    Who else could have pulled it off so well?
  • Bob from Southfield, MiJohnny Rivers recorded this song on his 1968 album "Realization". At the time, he was in his "hippie" phase. He rewrote the lyrics to set the theme of the album which was the search for realization of who we really are. River's version begins and ends with the sound of a circus calliope in the background.
  • Blake from Tahlequah, Okalthough many people did cover this song, and there is some speculation to who wrote it. It's a jimi classic and will be until the end of time.The song is so great thousands of people have become jimi fans just by hearing this song.
  • Lance from Malibu, CaNever mind who wrote it, "Hey Joe", is a good song. I was never a huge Hendrix fan but do like several of his songs.
  • Bianca Sanchez from Alburquerque, NmThis song's about a guy who sees another guy named joe with a gun, and he's like "What you doin' with that gun?"
    and the guy tells him he's gonna shoot his wife cos he caught her with another guy. Then he shhots her. Yah.........Its a good song
  • Andrew from Bartlett, Tnhey joe is a good song about a man on the run
  • Musicmama from New York, NyWhoever wrote this song, and whoever else covered it, I always think of it as a Jimi Hendrix song. His guitar work gave the song conveyed the angry or depressed person's alienation from reality, which heightened both the bluesiness and tripiness (I can't think of better words)that makes this song so powerful. Picking a favorite Hendrix song is as difficult picking a favorite Beatles song (In both cases, there are so many great ones), but this is certainly up there.
  • Brutus from Wynyard, Australiawalter trout and body count have coverd this the later is just awesome and a young fella from tasmania pete cornelius and the devilles cuts a pretty mean version also
  • Daniel from Brighton , EnglandWhen I saw Tim Rose on stage, not long before he died, he claimed to have written it . He sang it "The way the writer intended" - whatever , it is a great song
  • Mike from Hueytown , AlAnother cool over the top Hendrix song . What a classic !
  • Joe from Bellingham, WaHey Jimi! (haha! my name is Joe... i'm a loser)
  • Cowticket from Indiana, InYea lot of people played it, Its a Jimi song, and he played it with his teeth!
  • Mike from Torrington, CtI love Jimi, however Roy Buchanon's version is the best there is. No doubt.
  • Tin Ear from Fullerton, CaI think it might be the Winterland recording where he adds a peice of a Beatles song into the main riff. This song was also recorded by Cryan Shames and also by the Human Beinz; a band who was majorly influenced by Hendrix and covered foxy lady as well. They had a #1 with Nobody but Me.
  • Stefanie from Rock Hill, ScWhat I meant to say, was that there is a story that David Crosby taught it to some of the artists mentioned in the songfacts, including the other members of the Byrds, of which he was a member at the time.
  • Stefanie from Rock Hill, ScRegarding the popularization of "Hey Joe" is that it was taught to David Crosby who taught it to some of the artists mentioned in the second songfact. The following passage from www.answers.com has this to say: "The song Hey Joe is widely credited as being popularized by David Crosby after he picked it up from Dino Valente. He taught the song to Bryan MacLean and Arthur Lee of Love, who then taught it to members of The Leaves. Since he felt responsible for having popularized the song, Crosby convinced the other members of The Byrds to cover it on Fifth Dimension." Has anyone else read this story. This same story also appears in an entry on David Crosby onthe wicapedia website.
  • Dennis from Anchorage, AkI always found this song incredibly compelling, but I also have a fond humorous memory of it. I was one of that generation who loved sixties rock music while my parents, fans of Bing and Glenn Miller, hated it. Well they put up with me playing Beatles records, and they could cope with Simon and Garfunkel, the Moody Blues or CSN, but when I put on my disc of Jimi's Greatest Hits, during this song my usually very sweet mother told me to turn it off or she'd break the record into a million pieces. Had to listen to this one while they weren't home.
  • Stefanie from Rock Hill, ScI agree with Linus and Juney. Before I looked at the credits and did some internet research, I didn't know that it was written by someone else.
  • Daniel from Genoa, OhBack in 1992, I suspected my wife was having an affair. One day, while home alone, someone called and played this song over the phone to me. I listened until it was over...then they hung up. Every time I hear it, I am reminded of it. To this day I have no idea who called me.
  • Juney from Chattanooga, TnI agree with Linus, Ask anyone who sang 'Hey Joe' and it was Jimi hendrix of course
  • Linus from Hamilton, On, CanadaThough 400 artists have covered it, I believe this song really belongs to Jimi.
  • Kyle from Redding, Cathe 1967 pop festival was not the first time this was performed. hendrix toured before his first album was released, all over europe and hey joe was one of the first songs the band put together. an old cowboy tune from about 100 years ago. simple repitive rythim but its just one of those songs you know? i love it
  • Steve from Hamilton, CanadaA couple of other distinctive versions are by Spirit (on "Spirit of '76) and Black Uhuru (on "Now"). Body Count does a version on the 1993 Hendrix Tribute, "Stone Free". And the page http://www.heyjoe.org/perf.html shows about 1000 of them.
  • Josh from Las Vegas, Nvhell i want to hear deep purple and zeppelin do this
  • Nick from Richmond, Vaactually, I have a copy of Zeppelin playing this. If anybody wants it email me at njmunno@comcast.net
  • Barry from New York, NcHey Joe was the final song Jimi played at Woodstock. By the way, Max Yasgur's farm and alfalfa field where the song was played is located at the intersection of Hurd Road and West Shore Road in Bethel New York. You have to take Route 17b which is the Montecello exit on Route 17 in New York. Pass the race track, go down about 10-12 miles. Hurd Road will be on your right, make the right, then make the left onto West Shore Road, and then you'll see the amazing bowl where 30,000 plus people camped out and waited 3 days to see Jimi do "Star Spangled Banner" and "Purple Haze."
  • Pete from Aberdeen, ScotlandLife changing moment in the UK when the Experience perform 'Hey Joe' on music show 'Ready , Steady , Go'(December '66).
    Choice of name for a band could not have been more apt.....nuthin' prepared us for Jimi.
    Saw him twice before he died , once in Aylesbury(?!?) , once in Glasgow.
    Rawk gawd pre-eminent!
  • Stefanie Magura from Rock Hill, ScActually Jordan the song is about a guy who's talking to the guy who caught hiw girlfriend cheating. jimi is singing it from that perspective.
  • Jordan from Renton, Wathis song is about a guy who caught his girl cheating on him so he goes to shoot her. He says "where you goin with that gun in your hand. I'm goin down to shoot my old lady, i caught her messin around with another man."
  • Allen from Bethel, AkDeep Purple also covered this. I kind of like it better, but Jimi's version is still awesome.
  • Martijn from Helmond, NetherlandsAn initeresting version was done by Willy deVille.
  • Marc from Alameda, CaThe band Type O Negative covered a slow, dark version of this song, but coined it "Hey Peter" after the band's singer, Peter Steele. It appears on their greatest hits compilation, "The Least Worst Of"
  • Doc from Amherst, Ny"Hey Joe" was performed the first time by The Leaves. It's also the title of their debut album released in 1966.
  • Peter from Montrose, DcSorry David, Zeppelin never did this song. It was The Band Of Joy. It was Robert Plant's band prior to Zeppelin and the amazing John Bonham was the drummer.
  • Rico from Kingston, OtherIt was also done by Seal on the "Set it Off" soundtrack in 1996.
  • David from Greensboro, Ncdid some research, it was 1974
  • David from Greensboro, NcLed Zeppelin also covered this song, not sure what year, but Plant sounds very young in it so I guess it was "The Early Years."
  • Luke from Worthing, EnglandThis song, Hey Joe, was also covered by The Offspring in a gig in Baghdad a few years ago.
  • Evan from Acworh, GaA great old ballad that only jimi could make famous...what a remarkable piece of work.
  • Kris from Toronto, CanadaFrank Zappa and the Mothers recorded a song called "Flower Punk" for the album We're Only In It For The Money, it has the same tune as Hey Joe, and almost the same lyrics, but this song is a dig at hippies.
  • Paul from Chicago, IlFor a different approach to "Hey Joe" by Jimi, check out "Live at Winterland." A must have and a real treat for Hendrix fans. It was actually the first time I had heard the tune and I immediately went on a quest for any and all of Jimi's material. Needless to say, I've been a Hendrix fanatic since. Paul.
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