On September 21st, 1968—exactly a half-century ago—Jimi Hendrix released his cover of Bob Dylan‘s “All Along The Watchtower”, effectively electrifying the music world. The iconic guitarist used his rendition of “All Along The Watchtower” as a promotion for his forthcoming album, Electric Ladyland, which would be released less than a month later on October 16th, 1968.
While Dylan and Hendrix’s takes on the song are wildly different, both have solidified the song in the mainstream consciousness. Hendrix’s tribute to the Bob Dylan classic went on to become one of his highest-charting American singles, eventually topping out on the Billboard chart in the 20th spot. However, in the decades since, the song has become cemented as a legendary part of rock history. Hendrix’s recording earned the 47th spot on Rolling Stone‘s “500 Greatest Songs Of All Time”, the 5th spot on Guitar World‘s list of “100 Greatest Guitar Solos”, and the number 1 top spot on Total Guitar‘s “Greatest Cover Versions Of All Time”.
Though Jimi Hendrix’s rendition of “All Along The Watchtower” ultimately earned more recognition than Bob Dylan’s original, Dylan similarly was awed by Jimi’s electrifying guitar. As Dylan explained in a 1995 interview with Fort-Lauderdale’s Sun Sentinel,
It overwhelmed me, really. He had such talent, he could find things inside a song and vigorously develop them. He found things that other people wouldn’t think of finding in there. He probably improved upon it by the spaces he was using. I took license with the song from his version, actually, and continue to do it to this day.
In a booklet accompanying Dylan’s 1985 album, Biograph, the “All Along The Watchtower” creator added, “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.”
You can listen to Jimi Hendrix’s famed take on “All Along The Watchtower”, which was released exactly 50 years ago, below.
The Jimi Hendrix Experience – “All Along The Watchtower” [Bob Dylan cover]
[Video: Jimi Hendrix]