Purple Haze

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"Purple Haze"

German single cover
Single by The Jimi Hendrix Experience
from the album Are You Experienced
B-side "51st Anniversary" (UK)
"The Wind Cries Mary" (US)
Released March 17, 1967 (UK)
June 19, 1967 (US)
Format 7"
Recorded January 11 and February 3, 1967 at De Lane Lea and Olympic Studios in London, England
Genre Psychedelic rock,[1] acid rock,[2] heavy metal[3]
Length 2:50
Label Track
Writer(s) Jimi Hendrix
Producer(s) Chas Chandler
The Jimi Hendrix Experience singles chronology
"Hey Joe"
"Purple Haze"
"The Wind Cries Mary"

"Purple Haze" is a song written and recorded by Jimi Hendrix in 1967, released as the second single by the Jimi Hendrix Experience in both the United Kingdom and the United States.

It later appeared on the US version of the band's 1967 album Are You Experienced. "Purple Haze" has become one of the "archetypical psychedelic drug songs of the sixties".[4] Hendrix's virtuosic guitar techniques in Purple Haze would be emulated by many metal guitarists.[3]


Reportedly, the song came into being after the band's producer Chas Chandler heard him playing the riff backstage and suggested that he write lyrics to go with it. There is some dispute about the lyrics: supposedly written in the dressing room of the Upper Cut Club on Boxing Day, 1966, it is also believed that he wrote the lyrics in Westbourne Grove, Notting Hill. Chandler claims that the lyrics were never cut in any way (though he admits that this was done on general principle with Hendrix's lyrics), while Hendrix stated that the original song contained much more text.[5] Hendrix himself denied the drug relation of the song claiming it to be merely another love song. He said that the line "Whatever it is, that girl put a spell on me" is the key line to the lyrics.[6]

The single was released in the UK as Track single 604001 in March 1967; it entered the charts at number 39 and peaked at number three, spending 14 weeks in the chart.[7] It was released in the US as Reprise single 0597 in June 1967, where it peaked at number 65, spending only eight weeks in the chart.[8]

In March 2005, Q magazine ranked "Purple Haze" at number one in its list of the 100 Greatest Guitar Tracks.[9] Rolling Stone magazine placed the song at number 17 in their "500 Greatest Songs of All Time" and also at number 2 on their list of the 100 Greatest Guitar Songs of All Time.[10]


"I dream a lot and I put a lot of my dreams down as songs", Hendrix said in a 1969 interview with the New Musical Express, "I wrote one called 'First Around the Corner' and another called 'The Purple Haze', which was all about a dream I had that I was walking under the sea".[11] The term "purple haze" has been used to refer to LSD, due to the form sold by Sandoz, called Delysid, which came in purple capsules. The phrase itself appears in print as early as 1861, in Charles Dickens' Great Expectations, chapter 54: "There was the red sun, on the low level of the shore, in a purple haze, fast deepening into black..." Although, Hendrix himself stated that the song was partially in reference to a sci-fi story entitled "Night of Light" by Philip José Farmer. In it, "purple haze" is used to describe the disorienting effect of sunspot activity on the inhabitants of a planet called Dante's Joy.[12]

Mondegreen lyric[edit]

A lyric known to have been misheard in the song is "s´cuse me while I kiss this guy". The actual line is "s´cuse me while I kiss the sky". In fact, it has been documented that Hendrix himself perpetuated this mondegreen as a joke while singing "Purple Haze" live in concert,[13] particularly at the Monterey Pop Festival in 1967. In Cheech & Chong's film Nice Dreams, the line is parodied as "excuse me while I kiss this fly".


The song is known for its use of the "Hendrix chord" (dominant 7 #9) played as the first chord after the introduction. This chord structure was often used in jazz by artists such as Horace Silver in the early 1960s, but was not used in rock on a regular basis. It is sounded when Hendrix plays an E7 #9 (low to high: E, G#, B, D, F##) on the guitar while the bass plays a B flat (and its octave).[14] The intro itself is notable for its prominent use of a distinctive dissonant tritone interval. The guitar solo is played through an Octavia,[15] an effects pedal that increases notes by one octave. The effect was developed by Roger Mayer, an acoustical and electronics engineer, and Mayer claims he made it in cooperation with Jimi Hendrix.[16]

Covers of and references to "Purple Haze"[edit]

Bill Cosby used "Purple Haze" as the basis for title track of his album Hooray for the Salvation Army Band, although Hendrix does not receive a songwriting credit on the label. Johhny Jones & the King Casuals covered "Purple Haze" in 1968. Hendrix was a member of The King Casuals prior to his solo career. A pop version by Dion reached number 72 in Canada in February 1969. In 1973, in National Lampoon's Lemmings, a parody of Woodstock, John Belushi's Joe Cocker parody "Lonely at the Bottom" refers to the late 1960s as "days of Purple Haze and freon". In 1978 a live version was perfomed by Frank Marino & Mahogany Rush on their Live album as a tribute to Jimi Hendrix. In the 1979 film Apocalypse Now, the character Lance deploys a purple smoke grenade on the boat and sings the song, while on LSD.

In Cheech & Chong's film Nice Dreams, released in 1981 by Columbia Pictures, when the protagonists are in a mental institution, a black patient dressed like Jimi Hendrix (played by Michael Winslow) sings a parody version of "Purple Haze" (Sample lyric: "'Scuse me while I eat this fly"). A live recording of the song is featured in the opening credits of the 1983 comedy-drama film of the same name. Near the end of the Huey Lewis and the News 1984 song "I Want a New Drug", the famous intro to "Purple Haze" can be heard as the music fades out. Los Angeles art rock band The Fibonaccis recorded a discordant avant-garde cover of "Purple Haze" in 1984, releasing a psychedelic music video for the song the same year. San Francisco string quartet Kronos Quartet play "Purple Haze" live regularly; the song is included on their album Kronos Quartet (1986) and on the music DVD In Accord (2000).[17][18] Mr. Mister also played the song live during their 1986 tour.[19]

A version by the Art Ensemble of Chicago is featured on their album Ancient to the Future, which was released in 1987. The song "Purple Haze" is played in the movie Masters of the Universe from 1987 starring Swedish actor Dolph Lundgren. The band Winger performed a cover of the song on their self-titled debut album released by Atlantic Records in 1988. The song was featured in the 1988 action film Shakedown. A heavy version of the song has been performed live by Ozzy Osbourne at the Moscow Music Peace Festival, a one-time gathering of high-profile hard rock acts who put on a concert for the people in Moscow, Soviet Union on 12 and 13 August 1989 to promote world peace. This version is featured on the compilation album Stairway to Heaven/Highway to Hell, which was released in the same year. The Traveling Wilburys song "End of the Line", released in 1989, contains the lyrics "Maybe somewhere down the road a ways / You'll think of me and wonder where I am these days / Maybe somewhere down the road when somebody plays / Purple Haze".

Frank Zappa performs a parody version of the song on 1991 live album The Best Band You Never Heard in Your Life, recorded in 1988. The Bobs recorded an a cappella version of "Purple Haze" in 1991.[20] A version of "Purple Haze" by Tangerine Dream is on the group's concert album 220 Volt Live, which was recorded live in the US in 1992. A version by The Cure is the first track on 1993 tribute album Stone Free: A Tribute to Jimi Hendrix. In the film Apollo 13, released in 1995, Jim Lovell's oldest daughter was playing "Purple Haze" before watching Apollo 13's live broadcast from space.

The Party Zone pinball machine, made in 1991, featured a version of "Purple Haze" in its sound package, which was played when the player had achieved The Big Bang during multiball, or had locked one of the balls and sunk the other. "Purple Haze" is officially licensed for use by "The Party Zone".

Some of the lyrics of the song can be heard singing by Sherman Hemsley. Who plays a Triceratops character B.P. Richfield on the Jim Henson 1991 sitcom of "Dinosaurs (TV Series)"

The song was made available to download on October 12, 2010 for use in the Rock Band 3 music gaming platform in Basic rhythm mode, and a PRO mode update released on December 20, 2011 which takes advantage of the use of a real guitar, along with standard MIDI-compatible electronic drum kits / keyboards in addition to harmony vocals.[21][22]

In an episode of My Wife and Kids, Michael Kyle shows his son and his friend his guitar skills by playing the song; he also lit the guitar on fire and played it with his tongue. A copy of the single was found in a CD player in one of Uday Hussein's luxury vehicles. In the 2006 song "Dimension" by the Australian band Wolfmother, they use the lyrics "Purple Haze is in the sky". The intro to "Purple Haze" can be heard during the guitar solo of the song "Dani California" a single by The Red Hot Chili Peppers released on May 1, 2006.

In 2007, the Buena Vista Social Club covered this song in the album Rhythms del Mundo Classics.

The piece One Winged Angel, from Final Fantasy VII by Nobuo Uematsu, is inspired by "Purple Haze" including its famous intro.

A live version of the song (recorded at the San Diego Sports Arena in San Diego, California and not Woodstock, contrary to popular belief) appears alongside "The Wind Cries Mary" in the music video game Guitar Hero World Tour.

Ben Croshaw used an exerpt of this song at the beginning of his Zero Punctuation review of the video game Psychonauts[23]

D.H. Peligro, ex-drummer of the Dead Kennedys, recorded a punk rock cover of "Purple Haze", which was nominated for a Grammy Award.[citation needed]

Brian May and his early band 1984 recorded "Purple Haze" on March 31, 1967 at Thames Television in Broom Lane Studios, Teddington, UK.

On November 18, 2010 in Paris, France, Adam Lambert covered the song, as an encore, at a live performance at the Trabendo. Almost immediately, "purple haze" became an international Twitter trend.

In 2011, the cello/bassoon duo Paradox recorded a cover of "Purple Haze" on their CD titled MiX-5: Premiere Recordings for Bassoon and Cello.

A version of the song was recorded by Tommy Emmanuel.

American industrial metal band Ministry recorded their version of the song and released on their compilation album Every Day is Halloween: The Anthology.

The song is played at East Carolina Pirates home football games when the Pirates take the field (due to their colors being purple and gold).

It's heard on a 2014 TV commercial for Citigroup.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Psychedelic Rock (Top Songs)". Allmusic. Retrieved 2011-06-05. 
  2. ^ "Acid Rock (Top Songs)". Allmusic. Retrieved 2011-06-05. 
  3. ^ a b Walser, Robert (1993). Running with the Devil: Power, Gender, and Madness in Heavy Metal Music, p. 9. Wesleyan University Press. ISBN 0-8195-6260-2
  4. ^ Shapiro, Harry; Caesar Glebbeek (1995). Jimi Hendrix, Electric Gypsy. MacMillan. p. 148. ISBN 978-0-312-13062-6. "Purple haze is also known as a type of weed - figures, Jimi." 
  5. ^ Shapiro and Glebbeek, Jimi Hendrix, Electric Gypsy, 147.
  6. ^ Liner notes of 1993 CD reissue of the album.
  7. ^ The Jimi Hendrix Experience in the UK Charts, The Official Charts.
  8. ^ Shapiro and Glebbeek, Jimi Hendrix, Electric Gypsy, 524-526.
  9. ^ "Rocklist.net...Q Magazine Lists". Rocklistmusic.co.uk. Retrieved 2010-03-25. 
  10. ^ "The RS 500 Greatest Songs of All Time". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 2009-01-25. 
  11. ^ Shapiro and Glebbeek, Jimi Hendrix, Electric Gypsy, 148.
  12. ^ Classic Tracks Back To Back, Thunder Bay Press, p. 91
  13. ^ "The Jimi Hendrix Story - 'scuze me while I kiss this guy!". Kissthisguy.com. Retrieved 2010-03-25. 
  14. ^ Rooksby, Rikky (2002). Riffs: How to Create and Play Great Guitar Riffs. p. 24. ISBN 0-87930-710-2. 
  15. ^ Shapiro and Glebbeek, Jimi Hendrix, Electric Gypsy, 524.
  16. ^ "Octavia". Guitar Effects by Roger Mayer. Retrieved 2009-01-25. 
  17. ^ Walsh, Michael (1986-11-17). "Once Upon A Time In America". Time. Retrieved 2009-01-24. 
  18. ^ Wierzbicki, James (1990-01-29). "Kronos Quartet Audience Gets Ear-load Of Quality". Saint Louis Dispatch. Retrieved 2009-01-24. 
  19. ^ Mr. Mister - Purple Haze / Stand and Deliver live '86 (audio only) on YouTube Retrieved 12-17-2011.
  20. ^ "Sing the Songs Of". The Bobs. Retrieved 2010-03-25. 
  21. ^ Gaddo, Kyle (2011-12-16). "Rock Band Has More Jimi Coming". The Gaming Vault. Retrieved 2012-11-09. 
  22. ^ Snider, Mike (2010-06-10). "Rock Band 3: What's New, What's Notable". USA Today. Retrieved 2012-11-08. 
  23. ^ http://www.escapistmagazine.com/videos/view/zero-punctuation/2-Psychonauts

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