THE JIMI Hendrix Experience released their single “Voodoo Child (Slight Return)” on 23 October 1970 in the UK. It is a song recorded by the Jimi Hendrix Experience in 1968 that appears as the last track on the Electric Ladyland album released that year.

It contains improv guitar and vocals from Jimi Hendrix, supported by Noel Redding on bass and Mitch Mitchell on drums. This song is one of Hendrix’s best-known works; it was a showcase of his concert performances throughout his career, and several live shows were recorded and released on later albums.

After his death in 1970, Track Records released the song as a single in the UK under the title “Voodoo Chile”. It became Hendrix’s only number one single on the UK charts, reaching the top spot during the week of November 15, 1970. Several artists have performed or record a version of the song, Rolling Stoine magazine listed it at number 102 on its “500 Greatest Songs of All Time” list.

“Voodoo Child (Slight Return)” was developed from “Voodoo Chile”, recorded May 2, 1968, during studio practice with Steve Winwood on organ and Jack Casady on bass. The next day, Hendrix returned to the studio with Redding and Mitchell to film a short documentary by ABC television. Noel Redding explains, “We learned the song in the studio… They turned on the camera while we were playing it”. Hendrix added,

Someone was filming when we started performing [Voodoo Child]. We did that about three times because they wanted to film us in the studio, to make us—’Make it look like you’re recording, man’—one of the scenes, you know, so, ‘OK, let’s play this on E, a- one, a-two, a-three’, and then we get to ‘Voodoo Child’.

According to Hendrix biographer Steven Roby, eight takes of the song were recorded by Hendrix, Redding, and Mitchell, and the last one was selected as master, which appeared on Electric Ladyland.

During a January 1, 1970, performance with Band of Gypsys, Hendrix introduced the song as the national anthem “Black Panthers” (included on the album Live at the Fillmore East). At the time, he was pressured to make statements on racial issues in the US.

“Voodoo Child (Slight Return)” became a staple of Hendrix’s concert performances and would vary from seven to eighteen minutes. Recordings from the Winterland Ballroom, Royal Albert Hall, Woodstock, and Fillmore East were later released at The Jimi Hendrix Concerts, Hendrix in the West, Woodstock, and Live At the Fillmore East. Many more recordings of this song have been released.

In an AllMusic song review, “Voodoo Child (Slight Return)” was described as “a perfect example of how Hendrix took the form of a Delta blues and not only made it psychedelic but cast a stronger spell by sending the lyrics in the voice of a voodoo priest”. [sources/photo special]