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Voodoo Chile

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Title: Voodoo Chile  
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Voodoo Chile

"Voodoo Chile"
Song by the Jimi Hendrix Experience from the album Electric Ladyland
Released October 16, 1968 (1968-10-16)[1] (US)
Recorded Record Plant Studios, New York City, May 2, 1968
Genre Blues rock
Length 15:00
Label Reprise (no. 2RS 6307)
Writer Jimi Hendrix
Producer Jimi Hendrix

"Voodoo Chile" is a song written by Steve Winwood, and bassist Jack Casady. "Voodoo Chile" is based on earlier blues songs and became the basis for "Voodoo Child (Slight Return)", recorded by the Experience the next day and one of Hendrix's best-known songs.

"Voodoo Chile" uses a phonetical approximation of "child" pronounced without the "d", a spelling that was also used for Hendrix's song "Highway Chile". For the shorter Experience recording, Track Records in the UK used the title "Voodoo Chile (Slight Return)" for the British Electric Ladyland and "Voodoo Chile" for the 1970 UK single. Although many live recordings of "Voodoo Child (Slight Return)" have been issued, only the three takes of the original studio jam, "Voodoo Chile", are known to exist. A composite of the first two takes is included on the 1994 Blues album.


  • Background and lyrics 1
  • Recording and composition 2
  • Voodoo Child (Slight Return) 3
  • Confusion over title 4
  • Notes 5

Background and lyrics

"Voodoo Chile" evolved from "Catfish Blues", a song which Hendrix performed regularly during 1967 and early 1968. "Catfish Blues" was an homage to Muddy Waters, made up of a medley of verses based on Waters' songs, including "Rollin' Stone", "Still a Fool", and "Rollin' and Tumblin'".[3][1] In April 1968, Hendrix recorded a number of solo demos in a New York hotel, including an early "Voodoo Chile",[2] which he had been developing for some time.[6] It used elements of "Catfish Blues" with new lyrics by Hendrix and included a vocal and guitar unison line.

Music critic Charles Shaar Murray describes "Voodoo Chile" as "virtually a chronological guided tour of blues styles" ranging from early Delta blues, through the electric blues of Muddy Waters and John Lee Hooker, to the more sophisticated style of B.B. King, and the "cosmic blurt" of John Coltrane.[7] Lyrically, he adds, the song is "part of a long, long line of supernatural brag songs".[8] Hendrix's song opens with:

Well the night I was born, Lord I swear the moon turned a fire red (2×)
Well, my poor mother cried out, 'Lord, the gypsy was right', an' I see'd her fell down right dead

"Hoochie Coochie Man", the Muddy Waters/Willie Dixon blues classic, opens:

The gypsy woman told my mother, before I was born
'You got a boy child comin', goin' be a son of a gun'

In later verses, Hendrix, a fan of science fiction, adds references to "the outskirts of infinity" and "Jupiter's sulfur mines".[9]

Recording and composition

During the Electric Ladyland recording sessions at the Record Plant, Hendrix and the band often explored the New York City club scene and frequently jammed with the performers.[10] After one such jam at the nearby Traffic, bassist Jack Casady from Jefferson Airplane, and jazz guitarist Larry Coryell were among those present. Although Coryell was invited to play, he declined and Hendrix proceeded to record "Voodoo Chile" with Mitchell, Winwood, and Casady.[10] The remainder were on hand to provide the ambient crowd noise.

Winwood recalled, "There were no chord sheets, no nothing. He [Hendrix] just started playing. It was a one-take job, with him singing and playing at the same time. He just had such mastery of the instrument and he knew what he was and knew his abilities".[12] Engineer

  • Black, Johnny (1999). Jimi Hendrix: The Ultimate Experience. Thunder's Mouth Press.  
  • Fairchild, Michael J. (1994).  
  • Green, Martin; Sienkiewicz, Bill (1995). Voodoo Child: The Illustrated Legend of Jimi Hendrix. Kitchen Sink Press.  
  • Hendrix, Janie (2003). Jimi Hendrix: The Lyrics. Hal Leonard Corporation.  
  • Herzhaft, Gerard (1992). "Catfish Blues, Rollin' and Tumblin'". Encyclopedia of the Blues. University of Arkansas Press.  
  • "Jimi Hendrix Encyclopedia". (official website). Experience Hendrix, L.L.C. Retrieved July 13, 2014. 
  • McDermott, John;  
  • Perry, John (2004). 33⅓ Electric Ladyland. Continuum International Publishing.  
  • Roby, Steven; Schreiber, Brad (2010). Becoming Jimi Hendrix. Da Capo Press.  
  • Ruhlmann, William. "Voodoo Child (Slight Return) – Song review".  
  • Shadwick, Keith (2003). Jimi Hendrix: Musician. Backbeat Books.  
  1. ^ a b McDermott 2009, p. 117.
  2. ^ Perry 2004, p. 80.
  3. ^ Fairchild 1994, p. 22.
  4. ^ Herzhaft 1992, pp. 442, 468.
  5. ^ Green 1995.
  6. ^ Shadwick 2003, pp. 132, 153.
  7. ^ Murray 1991, p. 147.
  8. ^ Murray 1991, p. 148.
  9. ^ a b Shadwick 2003, p. 153.
  10. ^ a b c d e f g h McDermott 2009, p. 101.
  11. ^ Jimi Hendrix Encyclopedia May 2, 1968.
  12. ^ a b Black 1999, p. 146.
  13. ^ Perry 2004, p. 79.
  14. ^ Perry 2004, pp. 78–79.
  15. ^ Roby 2010, p. 101.
  16. ^ Shadwick 2003, p. 247.
  17. ^ Perry 2004, p. 81.
  18. ^ Vitka, Bill (2010). "Inside Electric Ladyland with Jack Casady". Blues Revue. Retrieved March 9, 2011. 
  19. ^ McDermott 2009, p. 102.
  20. ^ Hendrix, Janie 2003, pp. 171–172.
  21. ^ Taylor 1997, pp. 17–18.
  22. ^ "Jimi Hendrix Experience, The – Electric Ladyland Images (Reprise)".  
  23. ^ "Jimi Hendrix Experience, The – Electric Ladyland Images (Track)".  
  24. ^ "Jimi Hendrix Experience, The – Voodoo Chile Images (Track single)".  
  25. ^ "Jimi Hendrix Experience, The – Electric Ladyland: versions".  
  1. ^ Muddy Waters' songs in turn were based on earlier Delta blues songs, including Robert Petway's "Catfish Blues", Tommy McClennan's "Deep Sea Blues", and Hambone Willie Newbern's "Roll and Tumble Blues".[4]
  2. ^ A solo demo of "Voodoo Chile" was released with Voodoo Child: The Illustrated Legend of Jimi Hendrix.[5]


Jimi Hendrix occasionally used different names and spellings for some of his songs. In his handwritten lyrics, he used "Voodoo Chile" for the longer song, while he used both "Voodoo Chile (Slight Return)" and "Voodoo Child (Slight Return)" for the following one recorded with the Experience.[20] In his handwritten album notes for Electric Ladyland sent to his record company, he listed the songs as "Voodoo Chile" and "Voodoo Child (Slight Return)".[21] When the album was released in the US by Reprise Records on October 16, 1968,[1] these spellings for the two songs were used.[22] When the album was subsequently released by Track Records in the UK, the songs were listed as "Voodoo Chile" and "Voodoo Chile (Slight Return)".[23] In 1970, the "(Slight Return)" song was released as a single in the UK and it was simply titled "Voodoo Chile", without the further designation.[24] Later album reissues usually follow the Reprise or Track album spellings, depending on the country of origin.[25]

Confusion over title

The day after recording "Voodoo Chile", Hendrix with Mitchell and Noel Redding returned to the studio for the filming of a short documentary. Rather than repeat what had been recorded the day before, they improvised on "Voodoo Chile", using some of the imagery and guitar lines. As Redding recalled: "We learned that song in the studio ... They had the cameras rolling on us as we played it".[19] The song became "Voodoo Child (Slight Return)", one of Hendrix's signature songs, and has been covered by numerous artists. Both songs were released on the Electric Ladyland album.

Voodoo Child (Slight Return)

Hendrix wanted to create the atmosphere of an informal club jam, but the recording did not capture sufficient background noise.[10] So the onlookers provided additional crowd sounds, which were recorded from 9:00 am to 9:45 am. Hendrix and Eddie Kramer later mixed the track, adding tape delay and other treatments.

"Voodoo Chile" opens with a series of [10] However, Perry calls it a "modal, raga-like phrase", which Hendrix responds to by "improvising a mixed blues/eastern scale".[17] Mitchell anticipates changes in direction[9] and Casady provides a pulsing, solid foundation.[18]

Recording began about 7:30 am and three takes were recorded, according to biographer John McDermott and Kramer.[10] During the first take, Hendrix showed the others the song while the recording equipment was adjusted.[10] During the second take, Hendrix broke a string (these two takes were later edited together and released as "Voodoo Chile Blues" on the posthumous Hendrix compilation album Blues).[10] The third take provided the master that was used on Electric Ladyland. Music writer John Perry claims there were at least six takes recorded, but several were incomplete.[14]


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