Tuesday, April 8, 2014

The Creation - Hey Joe

Today's foray into the world of Hey Joe takes us across the pond for the first time.  Chas Chandler, bassist for The Animals, saw promise in this new song everyone was playing, and he took particular interest in a version by folk artist Tim Rose after seeing him perform in New York. Rose recorded a slower version that went out on the Columbia label in May, 1966, and Chas was looking for someone to take it further. As it happened stars were aligning for Chas when he met a virtually unknown R&B guitarist who had been gigging in the NY scene and they both hustled back to the UK on September 23, 1966. Apparently among the first acts Chas and his find, one Jimi Hendrix, saw was the pop-art band The Creation.

Now, at this point, its pure conjecture what transpired when Hendrix listened to the Creation that night, or whether he had any further interaction with the band, but in late 1966, he went into De Lane Lea studio - the same studio where The Animals House of The Rising Sun was recorded - and laid down his first single for Track Records, Hey Joe backed with Stone Free. This single saw release on December 16, 1966, quickly climbed the charts, and, in so doing, inscribed Hey Joe into the firmament of Rock. We wonder about Hendrix's exposure to The Creation because around this same time The Creation also laid down their exquisite version, today's Hey Joe, replete with the same intro and similar solo and lyrics. But note: Their version was released only on LP in September '67 in the Netherlands, Sweden, Germany and France.

Despite the later release, I'm of the mind that Hendrix took cues from The Creation and not the other way around. Why, for example, would The Creation copy a well-known version that soon hit the charts and would stay on for 11 weeks, peaking at number 6? Doesn't seem like them. Why would the innovative and brilliant Eddie Phillips simply copy a lead? (Although I suppose the opposite question should be posed: Why would Hendrix do the same?) Why also, if they were working off the Hendrix version, would The Creation insert the middle monologue section and create the very cool dramatic ending? Those additions seem to me the kind of thing that arise when you aren't even aware of another hit version of a song. One thing seems clear: Both versions are derivative of the Tim Rose Hey Joe with the slower tempo, similar lyrics ("I shot her!") and the moody choral back-up vocals.

Check out a very cool live recording of Tim Rose doing his Hey Joe:

Enjoy and until next time, see you on the Flip-side!


  1. Great post, Jack. I absolutely love this version of Hey Joe. I agree with you, it is clearly taken from Tim Rose's version. The best part of the their version are the falsetto vocals coming out of the monologue at minute 2:30. As you suggest, it is difficult at best to determine which came first, Jimi's arrangement or The Creation's. I have looked into and never found a satisfactory response.

    The ending of The Creation version is perfect. Just what should be there and sadly is not in the faded out version of Hendrix. In live versions, Hendrix does NOT end it the same way. Not sure that says anything more than that, however.

  2. I think its a very nice version, I like both Hendrix and the Creation. So I am not predjudiced to either one of the acts.
    But I have heard recordings of artists (mainly demo's of live or studio recordings) who are 'hurriying' through songs or parts of songs they are recording. They rehearse, try to get a grip, sometimes its a bit tiresome.
    You can hear when artists are performing well but still are not giving it a 100% their best. Especially with 'fillers' and non-originals.
    I hear some parts in the version by the Creation where there's not as much effort as they'd put in with their other stuff.
    I'd bet if the Creation were really the first with this song and Hendrix just copied them. Then their version would've been better than the version you can hear in this clip.
    My guess? I think Jimi heard them perform an early Tim Rose inspired version, he did the same and made his version. Then the Creation might have thought wow we got the idea before him, he came and watched us perform it. They might have felt a bit cheated.
    What he can we can do it too, let's record it like Hendrix and hence both versions have been created. Almost Identical.
    By the way a lot of the playing is Hendrix guitar, Creation were good, inventive but played much more in High Reverb and were metallic in sound. Hendrix is a bit more electric and earthy and this earthy bass-rich sound wich was also his trademark (next to the higher notes he play's) is suddenly also in this Creation sting at He Joe.
    Again I like both acts and I don't want to criticise but the Creation's performance here is great but not entirely 'convincing' . I listen and listen and can't help thinking that they'd recorded a good version about 95% OK.
    But someone said.....'Hé guy's lets go home, tomorrow we will record a 100% OK version.
    They never recorded this better version and used this as an albumfiller
    The talking bits are fantastic but too much self-mocking/parody, again not serious enough for a definitive recording. Again a hint at the lack of nescessety to make a 100% version.

    The Creation had hits already, if this Hé Joe version was 'stolen' by Hendrix I'd bet they would have sued him, and especially their producer Shell Talmy who was great but who was known for blocking the rights for the Who's early recordings. He would have sued Hendrix for 'copying' this version.