A song on the setlists of many US bands in the mid-60s. Jimi Hendrix's version is probably most remembered today, laid-back, yet menacing.

Where you goin' with that gun in your hand?

Gonna shoot my old lady... caught her messin' around with another man...

I like earlier versions, by Love and The Byrds (David Crosby), the Way It Was Done at the time: much more frenetic than Hendrix, with a proto-jangly sound that characterized a lot of early folk-rock.


Who wrote "Hey Joe"?

It has been credited as a "traditional folk ballad" or credited to various different songwriters over the years - even to Jimi Hendrix, one of the last to board the bandwagon. The authorship was, for a while, part of rock's urban legends.

The author (or the one who adapted the folk song) was a guy named Billy Roberts, who later sold the rights to Dino Valenti, a guitarist in the San Francisco band Quicksilver Messenger Service.

Valenti's pseudonym was Chester Powers; his friend David Crosby (of The Byrds) sang "Hey Joe". The Leaves had a minor hit with it in 1966, after getting permission (in 1965) from The Byrds, thinking it was their song - "Powers" received credit.

Meanwhile, Bryan MacLean, co-leader of Love, learned the song when he was a Byrds roadie; it became part of Love's setlist, ending up on their debut LP.

It proliferated from there. The version done by a British band, the Jimi Hendrix Experience, was closer to the original ballad than the various California versions going on; the Jimi-fied "Hey Joe" became a virtuoso set-piece in the hands of trad rock guitarists over the years, like Roy Buchanan. But Jimi didn't write it.

Your Useless Fact of the Day.

Kudos to the late, great Lester Bangs, who dredged up much of this info, many years ago.

Who did "Hey Joe"?

A partial list of renditions:

No doubt William Shatner or David McCallum has some version recorded in 1966 or 1967. If it exists, I don't want to hear it. Or Cher's, for that matter.

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