Jimi Hendrix has a large catalog of songs, encompassing both original work and covers. Most of these songs are heavily blues focused and specific. I dug in and listened deep into his catalog to determine an un-bias list of the 5 best Jimi Hendrix blues songs.
What are the best Jimi Hendrix blues songs? The five best Jimi Hendrix blues songs are Red House, Hear My Train A Comin’, Voodoo Child, Killing Floor, and Catfish Blues.
Continue reading to learn how and why these blues songs got ranked at the top of Jimi’s vast library of music.
5 Best Jimi Hendrix Blues Songs
The 5 best Jimi Hendrix songs are:
- Red House
- Hear My Train A Comin’
- Voodoo Child
- Killing Floor
- Catfish Blues
Continue reading to find out why these Jimi Hendrix blues songs made the list
1. Red House
Red House is the best Jimi Hendrix blues songs of all time. An original song by Jimi written in 1966, it was on his first album Are You Experienced. This song was inspired by Albert King and the influence is notable throughout its entirety.
For the studio version of Red House, the song starts with a descending progression with heavy vibrato followed by controlled and lengthy bends. These bends go up a full-step and are then followed by faster note rundowns and half-step bends before arriving to the chorus. The tempo starts off slow and begins to pick up before Jimi’s vocals come in. Finally, Jimi arrives at the solo. A faster paced solo with large amounts of hammer on pull-offs. Personally, this is my favorite blues solos of all time.
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When the vocals come in, intermixing of guitar licks and vocals begin. Neither being played over one another. A very bluesy approach. Jimi did not do this very often which is part of the reason why this song is so special. Most Hendrix songs have vocals and riffs intertwined.
Throughout the song, Jimi brings his signature style and flare, really showing his blues prowess. Perfectly timed bends, double stops, signature triads, as well as a production value that is unmatched.
What’s great about this song and Jimi in general, is that the song had large amounts of room to play in. Because of this, Jimi never played the same version twice live. My favorite live version can be found here (Royal Albert Hall, 1969).
Rumor has it that the song was written about Linda Keith. Linda was Keith Richards girlfriend at the time and a close friend of Jimi’s, even helping to connect him to his soon to be manager Chas Chandler.
Red House is considered one of the greatest blues songs ever written both from a lyrical perspective and certainly from a musical perspective.
2. Hear My Train A Comin’
Hear My Train A Comin’ is the second-best Jimi Hendrix blues song.
The song was recorded multiple times between 1967-1970, never to Jimi’s satisfaction. Unfortunately, the studio version was not publicly released until after his death. Although, he often played it live and there are many live recordings available.
The song was released in 1973 in the Jimi Hendrix film and was also released as a single in the UK at the same time.
Hear My Train A Comin’ starts with isolated guitar runs in open E (tuned down a half-step). Jimi’s vocals then come in. What’s great is what briefly happens next. Jimi matches his vocals with his guitar playing exactly. The song then goes back to an isolated guitar with a complex riff before opening up with the rest of the band.
The song digs deep into the rich history of the blues, specifically southern blues.
“A powerful blues prayer based on the salvation-train metaphor running through American folklore of every color and faith”John McDermott, Hendrix Biographer
Luckily, one of Jimi’s few acoustic recordings were with this song. You can find the acoustic version of this song here.
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In this acoustic version, Jimi is playing a 12-string acoustic. If you have played a 12-string before, then you know how difficult it is to bend the strings. Although, Jimi seems to do it with ease. This version is a perfect example of how open E blues should be played.
3. Voodoo Child
Voodoo Child is the third best Jimi Hendrix blues song. Recorded in 1968, it appeared as the final track on the album Electric Ladyland.
Arguably one of the more famous and recognizable Jimi Hendrix songs which has been covered famously by Stevie Ray Vaughan as a tribute to Jimi.
At the time when he started playing Voodoo Child live, the audience had no idea what to think. The song is extremely fuzz heavy and popularized the wah pedal. Watching the live recordings, you can see the audience is completely silent. Not because they dislike the song, it’s simply that they have never heard anything like it before.
Voodoo Child starts with the famous wah raking to the wah riffs. This is then followed by heavy open E (tuned down half step) riffs and bends in typical Jimi loud fashion. Further guitar experimentation is brought about halfway through the song with the solo, cycling the wah pedal on and off. Bends that scream and riffs that are unrelenting. Voodoo Child is Jimi’s brain child of the delta blues turned up to 11.
“A perfect example of how Hendrix took the Delta blues form and not only psychedelicized it, but cast an even more powerful spell by delivering the lyric in the voice of a voodoo priest”.All Music Song Review
I encourage you to check out this live version of Voodoo Child. This is my personal favorite version, and the filming is impeccable. Plus, Billy Cox is on bass for the performance which is always a treat.
4. Killing Floor
Killing Floor is the fourth best Jimi Hendrix blues song.
Performed for the first time (first time recorded) at the Monterey Pop Festival and it was the performance of this song that cemented him as the best new guitarist to the world.
Killing Floor is a song by Howlin Wolf that many blues guitarists had covered since its release. It was Jimi that took it to a whole different level though.
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His version of the song is one of the best fast blues songs ever played before and is revered by guitarists as a hallmark of Jimi’s skills. Especially since he was able to sing and play the complex riff at the same time. A great way to show the complexity of this songs strumming pattern and fast fretting hand is Sean Mann’s note for note cover.
Jimi first played this song in 1966 when he arrived in the UK at the age of 24. At the time, Eric Clapton was considered God and the best guitarist. Cream was above all else in their guitar playing and praised by all. After being in the UK for one week, Jimi went to a cream gig and asked if he could come up and jam with Clapton. Jimi plugged into the bass amp and played Killing Floor. Ironically, Clapton loved this song but thought it was too difficult to play with a modern blues twist.
Jimi raged through the song and blew the crowd away, totally smoking Clapton. This song and performance set Jimi up to be regarded as more than just a guitarist, but a force of nature.
5. Catfish Blues
The fifth best Jimi Hendrix blues song is Catfish Blues. This is a song by Robert Petway, created in 1941. Robert was a Mississippi Delta Bluesman.
Jimi first performed this song in 1967 in Sweden but recorded it later between 1967 and 1970 for the studio version.
Jimi opens the song with signature Muddy Waters style. Hard hammer ons followed by piercing bends high and low on the neck. Jimi does this progression for a couple bars before starting to sing.
Similar to Hear My Train A Comin’, Jimi recreates his vocals with his guitar, a technique I favor. The song remains the same pace up until the lead up to the solo. The solo is a piercing mix of Hendrixisms, fast paced licks and a tempo that rapidly changes.
This is one of my all-time favorite Hendrix songs / covers to play on the guitar and I strongly advise to learn it if you have not yet.
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