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What is "Purple Haze"?

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Quick Answer

“Purple Haze” is a song released by the Jimi Hendrix Experience in 1967. The song was Hendrix’s first single released in the United States and ranks as one of the most popular rock songs of all time.

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Full Answer

According to producer Chas Chandler, Hendrix wrote the song in late 1966 in the backstage dressing room of a London club before the band’s show that night. The band recorded the song in early 1967, with Hendrix teaching bassist Noel Redding and drummer Mitch Mitchell the song’s parts that day in the studio. Mitchell recalls that the band recorded the song successfully on their third take. After recording the song, Hendrix and producer Chandler worked on it further in the studio, overdubbing new guitar parts and employing a variety of unique effects, including panning, pitch adjustment and speed control.

While the song was not included on the Experience’s debut album in England, Reprise Records, the band’s U.S. label, put “Purple Haze” as the album’s first track and released it as the group’s first single. The song was not a hit initially, but "Are You Experienced?” eventually sold over 2 million copies. “Purple Haze” was a staple of Hendrix’s live set, and he performed the song at Woodstock in 1969. The song has been covered and reinterpreted by artists as diverse as Frank Zappa, Ozzy Osbourne, Tangerine Dream and the Kronos Quartet.

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