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"Voodoo Child (Slight Return)"
Voodoo Child Slight Return cover.jpg
UK single picture sleeve
Single by the Jimi Hendrix Experience
from the album Electric Ladyland
  • October 16, 1968 (1968-10-16) (US album)
  • October 25, 1968 (UK album)
  • October 23, 1970 (UK single)
RecordedMay 3, 1968
Studio Record Plant, New York City
Length5:08 [3]
Songwriter(s) Jimi Hendrix
Producer(s) Chas Chandler [4]
Hendrix UK singles chronology
" Let Me Light Your Fire"
"Voodoo Child (Slight Return)"
" Angel"

"Voodoo Child (Slight Return)" is a song recorded by the Jimi Hendrix Experience in 1968 that appears as the final track on the Electric Ladyland album released that year. It contains improvised guitar and a vocal from Jimi Hendrix, backed by Noel Redding on bass and Mitch Mitchell on drums. The song is one of Hendrix's best known; it was a feature of his concert performances throughout his career, and several live renditions were recorded and released on later albums.

After his death in 1970, Track Records released the song as a single in the United Kingdom using the title "Voodoo Chile" (see confusion over title). It became Hendrix's only number one single on the UK Singles Chart, reaching the top position during the week of November 15, 1970. [5] Several artists have performed or recorded versions of the song. Rolling Stone magazine included it at number 101 on their original 2004 list of the " 500 Greatest Songs of All Time"

Origins and recording

"Voodoo Child (Slight Return)" was developed from " Voodoo Chile", recorded May 2, 1968, during a studio jam with Steve Winwood on organ and Jack Casady on bass. [6] The next day, Hendrix returned to the studio with Redding and Mitchell for the filming of a short documentary by ABC television. [6] Noel Redding explained, "We learned that song in the studio ... They had the cameras rolling on us as we played it". [6] Hendrix added,

[S]omeone was filming when we started doing [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, boys'—one of them scenes, you know, so, 'OK, let's play this in E, a-one, a-two, a-three', and then we went into 'Voodoo Child'. [7]

According to Hendrix biographer Steven Roby, eight takes of the song were recorded by Hendrix, Redding, and Mitchell, and the final one was chosen as the master, which appeared on Electric Ladyland. [8]

Lyrics and interpretation

Author Charles Shaar Murray examines Hendrix's use of the term "Voodoo Child" in his book Crosstown Traffic:

Voodoo symbolism and reference resound through the country blues, and through the urbanized electric country blues of the Chicago school ... In Hendrix's case, this is pure metaphor. He certainly was not a Voodoo initiate in any formal sense ... Both with 'Voodoo Chile'—and, most specifically, with the West African even-before-Bo-Diddley beat he percussively scratches from his guitar and wah-wah pedal at the beginning of 'Voodoo Chile (Slight Return)' [ sic]—he is announcing as explicitly as possible that he is a man of the blues, and one who honours, respects and understands its deepest and most profound traditions". [9]

Except for the chorus, the lyrics of "Voodoo Child (Slight Return)" are different from "Voodoo Chile":

Well I stand up next to a mountain, and I chop it down with the edge of my hand (2×)
Well I pick up all the pieces and make an island, might even raise just a little sand
'Cause I'm a voodoo child, Lord knows I'm a voodoo child [10]

During a January 1, 1970, performance with the Band of Gypsys, Hendrix introduces the song as the " Black Panthers' national anthem" (included on the album Live at the Fillmore East). At the time, he was being pressured to make a statement about racial issues in the U.S. [11]

Live recordings

"Voodoo Child (Slight Return)" became a staple of Hendrix's concert performances, varying in length from seven to eighteen minutes. [12] Recordings from the Winterland Ballroom, Royal Albert Hall, Woodstock, and the Fillmore East were later released on The Jimi Hendrix Concerts, Hendrix in the West, Woodstock, and Live at the Fillmore East. Many more recordings have also been issued [12] (see List of songs recorded by Jimi Hendrix § Voodoo Child (Slight Return)).

Critical reception and recognition

An AllMusic reviewer described the song as "a perfect example of how Hendrix took the Delta blues form and not only psychedelicized it, but cast an even more powerful spell by delivering the lyric in the voice of a voodoo priest". [1] Also noted is Hendrix's guitar work: "Opening with a simple riff on the wah-wah pedal, the song explodes into full sonic force, the guitarist hitting the crunching chords and taking the astral-inspired leads for which he became infamous. The real guitar explorations happen midway through the song, while the basic, thundering riff is unrelenting". [1]

Joe Satriani said of the song: "It's just the greatest piece of electric guitar work ever recorded. In fact, the whole song could be considered the holy grail of guitar expression and technique. It is a beacon of humanity." [13] Rolling Stone magazine included the song at number 102 on their list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time. [4] A variety of musicians have recorded "Voodoo Child (Slight Return)", sometimes as "Voodoo Chile (Slight Return)" or shortened to "Voodoo Child". [14]


Chart (1970–71) Peak
Germany ( Official German Charts) [15] 24
Ireland ( IRMA) [16] 10
Netherlands ( Single Top 100) [17] 4
UK Singles ( OCC) [18] 1

Stevie Ray Vaughan rendition

Stevie Ray Vaughan recorded "Voodoo Child (Slight Return)" for his second album, Couldn't Stand the Weather (1984). [19] He explained in a 1985 interview: "I love Hendrix’s music ... and I just feel it's important for people to hear him." [19] Although he follows Hendrix's original, "he still manages to make it his own", according to Far Out magazine contributor Sam Kemp. [20] Guitar World's Damian Fanelli adds "His [Vaughan's] uncanny ability to smooth out some of Hendrix’s weirder edges without losing any of the music’s power or excitement allowed him to credibly deliver Jimi’s avant-garde blues to a whole new generation of guitar fanatics." [19] Vaughan often performed the song in concert [21] and live versions are included on the albums Live Alive (1986) [22] and Live at Montreux 1982 & 1985 (2001). [23]

Uses in popular culture

Wrestler Hulk Hogan used a portion of the song as his theme music during his time as leader of the heel faction group, the New World Order (NWO) while wrestling in WCW, and then during his comeback run in WWE (previously the World Wrestling Federation). According to a 2020 interview with wrestling impresario Eric Bischoff, he acquired a license for Hogan to use the song from Hendrix's stepsister and manager of his recording legacy, Janie Hendrix. [24] Bischoff claimed that the agreement allowed him to use up to three minutes of the song in various contexts in 1997 for $100,000: "People thought I was insane, [they] thought I was burning Ted Turner's money [in 1997, but] if someone were to try to cut that deal right now [in 2020] it'd be in the millions". [24]

See also


  1. ^ a b c d Sullivan, Denise. "Jimi Hendrix: Voodoo Child (Slight Return) – Song Review". AllMusic. Retrieved June 3, 2014.
  2. ^ Fowles 2009, p. 98.
  3. ^ From the Electric Ladyland liner notes (1968 international Polydor edition)
  4. ^ a b Rolling Stone (April 7, 2011). "The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time". Rolling Stone.
  5. ^ "Official [U.K.] Singles Chart Top 50: 15 November 1970–21 November 1970". Official Charts. Retrieved August 3, 2017.
  6. ^ a b c McDermott, Kramer & Cox 2009, pp. 101–102.
  7. ^ Henderson 2003, p. 350.
  8. ^ Roby 2002, p. 91: Roby adds that the ABC archives for the documentary are marked "LOST ABC 9/73" and its whereabouts are unknown
  9. ^ Murray 1991, p. 112: Murray uses the UK spelling "Voodoo Chile (Slight Return)".
  10. ^ Hendrix 2003, p. 170.
  11. ^ Murray 1991, p. 93.
  12. ^ a b "Jimi Hendrix: Voodoo Child (Slight Return) – Variations". AllMusic. Retrieved June 3, 2014.
  13. ^ The MusicRadar team (September 18, 2012). "Jimi Hendrix's 11 greatest tracks". MusicRadar. Retrieved July 13, 2017.
  14. ^ "Voodoo Child – Also performed by". AllMusic. Retrieved June 3, 2014.
  15. ^ " The Jimi Hendrix Experience – Voodoo Chile" (in German). GfK Entertainment charts.
  16. ^ " The Irish Charts – Search Results – Voodoo Chile". Irish Singles Chart.
  17. ^ " The Jimi Hendrix Experience – Voodoo Chile" (in Dutch). Single Top 100.
  18. ^ "The Jimi Hendrix Experience: Artist Chart History". Official Charts Company.
  19. ^ a b c Fanelli, Damian (October 3, 2022). "Stevie Ray Vaughan's 10 Greatest Guitar Moments". Guitar World. Retrieved November 27, 2022.
  20. ^ Kemp, Sam (August 27, 2022). "Watch Stevie Ray Vaughan cover Jimi Hendrix classic 'Voodoo Child'". Far Out. Retrieved November 27, 2022.
  21. ^ Brakes, Rod (July 23, 2021). "Watch Stevie Ray Vaughan's Jaw-Dropping Live Performance of Jimi Hendrix's "Voodoo Chile (Slight Return)"". Guitar Player. Retrieved November 27, 2022.
  22. ^ Huey, Steve. "Stevie Ray Vaughan & Double Trouble" Live Alive – Review". AllMusic. Retrieved November 27, 2022.
  23. ^ Westergaard, Sean. "Stevie Ray Vaughan: Live at Montreux 1982 & 1985 – Review". AllMusic. Retrieved November 27, 2022.
  24. ^ a b Pope, Andrew (November 21, 2020). "Eric Bischoff: WCW licensing "Voodoo Child" for 'Hollywood' Hulk Hogan's theme music in 1997". Pickin' It Out with Andrew Pope (Podcast). Retrieved March 11, 2022 – via YouTube (relevant excerpt).


External links