Running about 13 minutes depending on the rendition, "Red House" is a scorching blues number where Hendrix sings about returning home to see his girl, who lives in a red house. When he gets there, his key won't work, and he realizes she doesn't live there anymore. Instead of wallowing in his misery, he turns back and decides to pay a visit to her sister.
According to the book Hendrix: Setting the Record Straight, Jimi worked up this song in New York City when he was still a struggling musician. He was staying in a friend's apartment that was decorated almost completely red, which gave him the lyrical inspiration for this song.
There have been lots of rumors about the origin. These are the most pervasive:
1) One of his girlfriends in Seattle lived in a house painted red.
2) It comes from a Hopi legend about a mysterious red city.
This is a very intricate song that demonstrates Hendrix' mastery on guitar. It's one that earned him the respect of many musicians, including Billy Gibbons of ZZ Top. Gibbons says he was "completely turned upside down" when he heard it.
Hendrix recorded this in a call-and-response blues style where each line is repeated twice. This style dates back to the field hollers workers would sing to pass time in the American south.
Bertrand - Paris, France
This was not included on the original US release of Are You Experienced?; the omission tweaked Hendrix, since it was one of his favorites. He often performed the song at his concerts, constantly changing the arrangement.
Hendrix recorded many versions of this song. The first release was on the UK version of his debut album, Are You Experienced? The original studio version of the song is 3 minutes, 49 seconds. Here's the timeline of the studio versions:
Recorded December 13, 1966, includes studio chat by Chas Chandler and Jimi, released on the original UK version of Are You Experienced? and on the 1997 30th Anniversary CD re-issue.
The same basic recording as version 1 but with a different vocal take by Jimi recorded March 29, 1967 and a different mix with more guitar echo. The studio chat introduction was mixed out, and the song released on the US version of Smash Hits in 1969, on the 1993 CD re-issue of Are You Experienced? and on The Ultimate Experience CD in 1993.
Recorded October 29, 1968 and introduced by Jimi as played by the Electric Church, it was released on Variations On A Theme: Red House CD in US only in 1989, released on Blues CD in 1994 and retitled "Electric Church Red House."
This song was covered on the 1997 G3 Live In Concert
album, where it was performed by Hendrix acolytes Joe Satriani
, Steve Vai
and Eric Johnson.
Andy - Tualatin, OR
This appears on the City Of Angels
movie soundtrack, and was used in a scene in the movie where Meg Ryan, who plays a cardiovascular surgeon, requests a nurse to turn on Jimi while she's operating on someone.
Andy - Eatontown, NJ
Hendrix performed this at many of his famous festival appearances, including Woodstock and the Isle of Wight.