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During his short life of 28 years, Jimmy Hendrix became a musical legend for all of eternity. He was a very influential and widely respected guitarist with a unique personality, and all guitarists owe it to him and the art of playing guitar to learn at least a couple of Jimmy Hendrix songs.
Purple Haze is an amazing song, like no other. It incorporates many blues and jazz elements, and makes use of seemingly dissonant, but ultimately harmonizing melodies, a skill that not many rock composers are able to achieve.
Our Purple Haze guitar lesson will cover every part of the song, except for the solo. The solo is played on the E Dorian scale, so if you are familiar with scale modes, you can experiment with it. Also know that Jimmy Hendrix plays the Purple Haze solo through an effect pedal called Octavia, which increases every note by 1 octave.
Let’s get back to the actual lesson now, so as I mentioned, you’ll be learning every part of Purple Haze, starting with the introduction, which is a tritone interval used often in jazz. Afterward, you’ll learn the ever-popular main riff of Purple Haze, which will really improve your lead guitar skills, as you’ll be incorporating slides, hammer-ons, and alternate plucking of non-adjacent strings.
After the main riff, you’ll learn the verse, which is famous for the “Hendrix chord”. The chord is actually a dominant 7 # 9. You’ll need to practice it a bit, as the fingering will seem awkward at first sight, but you’ll get it with practice. You’ll also learn a cool strumming pattern you can use during this section of Purple Haze, and also a simpler one if you’re not that proficient at strumming yet.
Next, you’ll learn the bridge, where you’ll start by playing a couple of octaves, then another lead part which is similar to the main riff. This will lead up to the previously mentioned solo, which is played on the Octavia pedal. During the solo, you can simply go back to the strumming section.
Purple Haze song details
Purple Haze was written by Jimmy Hendrix and released by his band The Jimmy Hendrix Experience in 1967 first as a single, then on the album Are You Experienced.
This song became one of the most well-known songs of the '60s, is commonly associated with Woodstock, and mentioned as a “psychedelic drug song” of the ‘60s. It is actually used in many contemporary films, during sections dealing with drugs.
The song was covered by a large number of artists, for instance, Frank Zappa, Buena Vista Social Club, Brian May, Ozzy Osbourne, etc.
Purple Haze awards and rankings
- UK: #3
- Q magazine – 100 Greatest Guitar Tracks: #1
- Rolling Stone magazine – 500 greatest songs of all time: #17
If you want to refine the skills you learned in Purple Haze, check out these lessons on songs by clicking these links:
Hammer-ons / Octaves / Open chords / Slides / Strumming patterns
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