The Jimi Hendrix Experience first released “Red House” on their 1967 debut album Are You Experienced?

Initially, the song was only included on the UK version of the album, after being left out of the original US releases. The exclusion irritated Hendrix since the song was a favorite of his. It was a staple song during his concerts and jam sessions, often changing up the arrangement. First written and recorded in 1966, the original studio cut was only 3 minutes and 49 seconds, most renditions of “Red House” run about 13 minutes.

“Red House” is considered by Hendrix fans one of his best guitar performances and the ultimate scorching hot electric blues single. Hendrix recorded the song in twelve-bar structure with a call-and-response style, where each line is repeated twice and the second phase is heard as a direct commentary to the first. The style stems from the African-American slave trade work songs. The complexity of “Red House” demonstrates Hendrix mastery on guitar and the way he could make the instrument sing like a human voice.

Author Jeffrey Carroll describes his solos in the song as “concise and packed solid with vocalisms, the bending and glissandos, jumps, drops and whoops of his guitar kept within a traditional structure of a break”.

Later renditions of “Red House” that Hendrix played showed B.B. King influences and T-Bone Walker style ninth chords. This was also one of the few songs that Hendrix had occasionally used a guitar other than his signature Fender Stratocaster to play, often playing the song on a Gibson Flying V. Blues legend John Lee Hooker said, “That ‘Red House’, that’ll make you grab your mother and choke her! Man, that’s really hard, that tears you apart. He could get down, he could mash it, yeah, Lord! He had so many blues”.

 

 

Devon Ebersold for Keeping the Blues Alive

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