Study Guide

Purple Haze

Purple Haze Introduction

In a Nutshell

"Purple Haze" has just about everything. 

One of the most iconic opening notes in the history of rock. Perhaps the greatest mondegreen of all time. (Did he just say, "Scuse me while I kiss this guy"?) Enough electric guitar gymnastics to compete in the Olympics. So much psychedelic craziness that an entire strain of marijuana was named after it.

"Is it tomorrow or just the end of time?" With this song ringing in our headphones, we honestly have no idea.

About the Song

ArtistHendrix, Jimi
Year1967
LabelTrack Record (UK), Reprise Records (U.S.)
Writer(s)Jimi Hendrix
Producer(s)Chas Chandler
Musician(s)Jimi Hendrix (vocals, guitar), Noel Redding (bass, backup vocals), Mitch Mitchell (drums).
Learn to playTablature
AlbumAre You Experienced

Music Video

Influences on Hendrix, Jimi

Buddy Guy
Curtis Mayfield
Elmore James
Elvis
Jeff Beck
Little Richard
Muddy Waters
The Yardbirds

Influenced by Hendrix, Jimi

Just about all modern rock music
Deep Purple
Funkadelic
Led Zeppelin
Lenny Kravitz
Stevie Ray Vaughan

Purple Haze Resources

Books

Keith Shadwick, Jimi Hendrix: Musician (2003)
It's one of those books that you can't really fit on your bookshelf, but that's OK because Keith Shadwick's book, designed by Paul Cooper, is beautiful enough to leave around. Full of big pictures, but the narrative is just as good--and it features a section strictly on Jimi's equipment for all the guitarists out there.

Charles R. Cross, Room Full of Mirrors (2005)
Practically day-to-day at points, this biography of Jimi Hendrix by Charles R. Cross is undoubtedly his definitive biography.

Steve Waksman, Instruments of Desire: The Electric Guitar and the Shaping of Musical Experience (1999)
Good scholarship meets interesting subject matter in this in depth examination of the electric guitar by Steve Waksman. Jimi Hendrix is featured prominently in the chapter "Black Sound, Black Body."

Albums

Axis: Bold as Love (1967)
The Jimi Hendrix Experience's second album; on it one can find such familiar, tamer Hendrix hits as "Little Wing" and "Castles Made of Sand."

Electric Ladyland (1968)
The double LP that is Electric Ladyland is perhaps the best demonstration of why Hendrix was as big a star as he was. Aside from producing hits (like the iconic cover of Bob Dylan's "All Along the Watchtower") The Jimi Hendrix Experience produced excellent jams—as in "Voodoo Child (Slight Return)"—that demonstrate the inventiveness of the guitarist and just how ahead of his time he was. The song still sounds fresh and dangerous today, more than 40 years after it was recorded.

Are You Experienced (1967)
The first The Jimi Hendrix Experience album, with current versions of the release including both of the band's first singles, "Hey Joe" and "Purple Haze," as well as "The Wind Cries Mary," "Fire," "Foxey Lady" and hidden gems "Love Or Confusion" and the blues jam "Red House."

Images

The Jimi Hendrix Experience
Left to right: Mitch Mitchell, Jimi Hendrix, and Noel Redding.

Behind the head
Often-emulated signature move of Jimi's—soloing behind the head. An early example of this showy move can be found in T-Bone Walker's live performances.

Sacrificing to the Electric Church
A famous photo of Jimi as he watches his Stratocaster burn during his performance at the Monterey Pop Festival

Are You Experienced
The album cover to the first Jimi Hendrix record, which in most versions contains "Purple Haze."

Movies & TV

Jimi Hendrix: Live at Monterey (2007)
A must-see for any guitar/Hendrix/psychedelic-fan, Jimi's performance at the Monterey Pop Festival in 1967 launched Jimi Hendrix into the public eye of the US and defined the music scene of 1967.

Jimi Hendrix—Live at Woodstock (1999)
Headlining Woodstock, only a couple of years after he exploded onto the US scene at the Monterey Pop Festival, Jimi's legendary performance here is inconsistent, ranging from confusing to astounding. It is this performance that gave the world the feedback-drenched, electrified version of the "Star Spangled Banner." Excellent special features on the DVD.

Websites

Jimihendrix.com: the Official Jimi Hendrix Website
A rich website with video features, an index of Jimi's performances, and short biography.

Jimi at Last.fm
Listen to your favorite Jimi tracks online!

The Jimi Hendrix Experience: Hall-of-Famers
The band's Rock N' Roll Hall of Fame page.

Video & Audio

"Purple Haze"
Just the audio track.

"Purple Haze" by the Kronos Quartet
A popular cover of "Purple Haze" by the famous and very talented Kronos Quartet.