Jimi Hendrix plays Bob Dylan and Beatles

a-Jimi Hendrix - Dylan_pin

“Sometimes I do a Dylan song and it seems to fit me so right that I figure maybe I wrote it. Dylan didn’t always do it for me as a singer, not in the early days, but then I started listening to the lyrics. That sold me.”
– Jimi Hendrix, Beat International 1969

Though they were not close friends, Jimi Hendrix was a huge fan of Bob Dylan and covered five of his songs (to my knowledge), both live and in the studio. These tracks are “Like a Rolling Stone,” “All Along the Watchtower,” “Drifter’s Escape” , “Can You Please Crawl Out Your Window?” and “Tears of Rage” (by Dylan and Richard Manuel)

“I like his Blonde On Blonde and Highway 61 Revisited. His country stuff is nice too, at certain times. It’s quieter, you know.”
– Jimi Hendrix (1970, Hendrix on Hendrix)

“One day that fall [Howe] was walking down Eighth Street in New York City with Jimi when they spied a figure on the other side of the road. “Hey, that’s Dylan,” Jimi said excitedly. “I’ve never met him before; let’s go talk to him.” Jimi darted into traffic, yelling “Hey, Bob” as he approached. Deering followed, though he felt uneasy about Jimi’s zeal. “I think Dylan was a little concerned at first, hearing someone shouting his name and racing across the street toward him,” Deering recalled. Once Dylan recognized Jimi, he relaxed. Hendrix’s introduction was modest enough to be comic. “Bob, uh, I’m a singer, you know, called, uh, Jimi Hendrix and…” Dylan said he knew who Jimi was and loved his covers of “All Along the Watchtower” and “Like a Rolling Stone.” “I don’t know if anyone has done my songs better,” Dylan said. Dylan hurried off, but left Jimi beaming. “Jimi was on cloud nine,” Deering said, “if only because Bob Dylan knew who he was. It seemed very clear to me that the two had never met before.””
– Charles Cross (Room Full of Mirrors)

The Beatles stuff is at the end of the post.

From Seven Ages of Rock (BBC):

“First time I saw him, he was playing with John Hammond. He was incredible then. I’d already been to England and beyond, and although he didn’t sing, I kinda had a feeling that he figured into things. The last time I saw him was a couple of months before he died. He was in that band with Buddy Miles. It was an eerie scene. He was slouched down in the back of a limousine. I was riding by on a bicycle. I remember saying something about that song “Wind Cried Mary,” it was a long way from playing behind John Hammond. That was my favorite song of his – that and “Dolly Dagger”… I don’t know, it was strange, both of us were a little lost for words, he’d gone through like a fireball without knowing it, I’d done the same thing like being shot out of a cannon…”
-Bob Dylan (Biograph liner notes)


Like a Rolling Stone (from Winterland):

“I love Dylan. I only met him once, about three years ago, back at the Kettle of Fish on MacDougal Street. That was before I went to England. I think both of us were pretty drunk at the time, so he probably doesn’t remember it.”
– Jimi Hendrix, Rolling Stone Magazine

A tender cover of Bob Dylan and The Band‘s classic Tears of Rage from the 4cd set “West Coast Seattle Boy” (Spotify):


Drifter’s Escape:

“Oh, yeah, I liked that. ‘Help me in my’ — what’s that? That was groovy. I want to do that one”  Jimi Hendrix said. It was recorded in 1970 at Electric Lady Studios, Hendrix’s version, delivered with a funky groove, was first released on the 1974 Loose Ends compilation, and again on the South Saturn Delta collection of demos and alternate tracks.

Can You Please Crawl Out Your Window (Live Filmore East May 10, 1968)

All along the Watchtower:

“I went to dinner with Albert Grossman in an awful Mexican restaurant around 46th Street. He gave me this cassette and said, ‘Here’s a sample of Dylan’s latest songs.’ I had a party a week or so later and Jimi was there. I said, ‘How would anybody like to hear something from Dylan that you haven’t heard?’ and I played the tape. Jimi came up to me and said, ‘Hey Mike, can I take that home with me? I really want to listen to that again.’ I said, ‘Sure you can have it, what the hell do I care?’”
– Michael Goldstein (Jimi’s publicist)

“It was soon after he came back [from the States]. I remember him having the album when he came back along with a bottle of duty-free American whiskey. We played it over and over again. He just loved it.”
– Kathy Etchingham (Jimi’s girlfriend)

These are just two of the many people who claim to have introduced Hendrix to the song.

All along the watchtower, Isle of Wight version (the best!):

In the booklet accompanying his Biograph box, Dylan said: “I liked Jimi Hendrix’s record of this and ever since he died I’ve been doing it that way… Strange how when I sing it, I always feel it’s a tribute to him in some kind of way.”

The British magazine Total Guitar deservedly named it top of the list of the greatest cover versions of all time in 2000.

The Beatles.

It would be one of his first gigs in London. Jimi was a sweetie, a very nice guy. I remember him opening at the Saville on a Sunday night, 4 June 1967. Brian Epstein used to rent it when it was usually dark on the Sunday. Jimi opened, the curtains flew back and he came walking forward, playing ‘Sgt. Pepper’, and it had only been released on the Thursday so that was like the ultimate compliment. It’s still obviously a shining memory for me, because I admired him so much anyway, he was so accomplished. To think that that album had meant so much to him as to actually do it by the Sunday night, three days after the release. He must have been so into it, because normally it might take a day for rehearsal and then you might wonder whether you’d put it in, but he just opened with it. It’s a pretty major compliment in anyone’s book. I put that down as one of the great honours of my career. I mean, I’m sure he wouldn’t have thought of it as an honour, I’m sure he thought it was the other way round, but to me that was like a great boost.

– Paul McCartney (Many Years From Now, book)

Jimi Hendrix – Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Heart Club Band:

He did two more (sort of)…

Here is Day Tripper:

– Hallgeir & Egil

13 thoughts on “Jimi Hendrix plays Bob Dylan and Beatles”

  1. Jimi could see things in songs that no one else could. I am unaware of a cover that Jimi did that wasn’t at least as good–if not superior–to the original. What a brilliant talent and musical visionary. Gone WAY too soon…

  2. I might be mistaken but did Hendrix ever record Dylan’s Like a Rolling Stone? ? ?

  3. Ditto re Hendrix’s cover of “All Along the Watchtower” being, in some ways, more well-know than Dylan’s original. “…In the booklet accompanying his Biograph box, Dylan said: “I liked Jimi Hendrix’s record of this and ever since he died I’ve been doing it that way… Strange how when I sing it, I always feel it’s a tribute to him….”

    The British magazine Total Guitar deservedly named it top of the list of the greatest cover versions of all time in 2000…”


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