Jimi Hendrix died on Sept. 18, 1970 — three years and some change after releasing his debut LP, Are You Experienced. Because he finished only three other albums in his 27 years — two more studio sets with backing band the Experience (Axis: Bold as Love and Electric Ladyland) and one live record with Band of Gypsys — you wouldn't think ranking his discography would be too challenging.

Instead, it's almost impossible. You can't examine the guitarist's catalog without swimming through the deluge of posthumous material that's emerged over the decades, including albums like The Cry of Love and Rainbow Bridge. But with so many bootlegs and alternate takes floating around, where do you draw the line?

We examined Hendrix's entire official catalog and rated his 60 best moments below — from psych-rock powerhouses to atmospheric ballads.

60. "Room Full of Mirrors"
From: Rainbow Bridge (1971) / First Rays of the New Rising Sun (1997)

This funky, overstuffed track first appeared on Rainbow Bridge, the second posthumous Hendrix LP, along with four other cuts earmarked for potential inclusion on his unfinished fourth album. The squealing guitars are a little overbearing, but the energy is contagious.

59. "Ezy Ryder"
From The Cry of Love (1971) / First Rays of the New Rising Sun (1997)

Cowbell and congas kick off this solid — if slightly one-note — blues rocker, recorded only a few months after the counterculture road drama Easy Rider.

58. "Izabella"
From: "Stepping Stone" B-side (1970) / War Heroes (1972) / First Rays of the New Rising Sun (1997)

Issued as the B-side of "Stepping Stone" on April 8, 1970, this blast of spiky funk appeared on the last Hendrix single, five months before his death.

57. "In From the Storm"
From: The Cry of Love (1971) / First Rays of the New Rising Sun (1997)

A simmering electric blues with wailing backing vocals — until it morphs halfway through into a jittery wah-wah frenzy.

56. "Look Over Yonder"
From: Rainbow Bridge (1971) / South Saturn Delta (1997)

It's not fair to judge an unfinished posthumous track, but "Look Over Yonder" never reaches its obvious potential. Hendrix's slightly mumbled vocal sits awkwardly in the pocket, as if he's experimenting with rhythms on the fly. The riff, however, slays.

55. "Little Miss Strange"
From: Electric Ladyland (1968)

It's pure psych-pop fluff, one of only two Experience songs helmed by bassist Noel Redding. But Hendrix's colorful guitar lines keep it in the neighborhood of essential.

54. "Up From the Skies"
From: Axis: Bold as Love (1967)

Mitch Mitchell's brushed drums sizzle throughout this painfully low-key Axis cut, wherein Hendrix ponders "the rooms behind your minds."

53. "Tax Free"
From: War Heroes (1972) / South Saturn Delta (1997)

Without the burden of vocals, Hendrix digs into the delicious grime of "Tax Free," a smoldering cover of the 1967 track by Swedish jazz-prog duo Hansson & Karlsson.

52. "Little Miss Lover"
From: Axis: Bold as Love (1967)

Hendrix's wicked, semi-muted wah-wah carries this bluesy Axis track, which would have been equally effective as an instrumental. ("I love a lover that feels like you," he sings, adding nothing. "Would you like to tag along?")

51. "Hear My Train a Comin'"
From: People, Hell and Angels (2013)

This spiritual blues, a standard throughout Hendrix's career, is a sonic precursor to the far superior "Voodoo Chile." The definitive version is debatable: Some purists prefer the 1967 solo version he played on a 12-string acoustic guitar and featured the following year in a documentary. But the smoothest is the 1969 studio take included on the posthumous set People, Hell and Angels.

50. "You Got Me Floatin'"
From: Axis: Bold as Love (1967)

It's more riff than song, but what a riff — a funky, spring-loaded groove that carries the full three minutes. Noel Redding interjects periodically with some melodic, fuzzy bass. But the backing vocals of Graham Nash, Roy Wood and Trevor Burton feel like they belong in a different track altogether.

49. "Power to Love"
From: Band of Gypsys (1970)

The Gypsys grind out a gritty blues-funk riff for seven minutes — a bit too long, even for these guys. But Hendrix is on fire, so it's worth taking the ride.

48. "Who Knows"
From: Band of Gypsys (1970)

Hendrix trades vocals with drummer Buddy Miles on this loose but thrilling blues-funk jam, built on a sauntering riff and the latter's inspired falsetto scatting. Band of Gypsys were operating as a single organism — check how they simmer to almost dead silence around the 5:50 mark and then patiently build the groove back up again.

47. "Red House"
From: Are You Experienced (1967)

It became a fixture of Hendrix's live show — a launching pad for the kind of guitar fireworks only he could provide. But despite its historical importance, the song's rigid 12-bar blues structure is the only moment on his debut LP that seems to look backward rather than forward.

46. "House Burning Down"
From: Electric Ladyland (1968)

The murky production keeps this one out of the top tier of Hendrix tunes — the overall feel is like being trapped inside a flanger pedal. But the hard-soul groove of the chorus riff, coupled with the "somebody's house is burning" hook, makes it one of his catchiest.

45. "Stepping Stone"
From: War Heroes (1972) / First Rays of the New Rising Sun (1997)

A series of dark, bluesy riffs anchor this posthumous gem, which first appeared on the War Heroes set. Most of the tune is instrumental, and that's for the best: Hendrix's vocal sounds a bit distracted and tentative, as if he's biding his time until another wild solo.

44. "She's So Fine"
From: Axis: Bold as Love (1967)

The Experience's other Noel Redding original, this overlooked psych-pop nugget shares more DNA with early Who than the band's trademark sound. The chirpy backing vocals, the tumbling, Keith Moon-ish drum fills, the ragged distortion — it's entertaining stuff, if a bit too familiar.

43. "Burning of the Midnight Lamp"
From: Electric Ladyland (1968)

The opening wah-wah/electric harpsichord theme is among Hendrix's spaciest moments. And with the proper production, "Midnight Lamp" could have been a masterwork. But the boomy, washed-out mix keeps it at arm's length.

42. "Pali Gap"
From: Rainbow Bridge (1971) / South Saturn Delta (1997)

Emerging from a lengthy studio jam after a pass at "Dolly Dagger," this blissful instrumental contains some of Hendrix's most melodic playing. "When the jam started, Jimi was just fucking around," engineer Eddie Kramer said in the 2008 book Ultimate Hendrix, noting how the guitarist's ambitions for the track bloomed. Despite the high quality, Kramer added, it was never earmarked for his unfinished fourth LP.

41. "Third Stone From the Sun"
From: Are You Experienced (1967)

Perhaps Hendrix's purest foray into raw psychedelia, the instrumental "Third Stone From the Sun" blends jazzy drumming and hazy guitar melodies with wind-like atmospherics and spoken voices that sputter in and out of the mix like a fading FM radio signal.

40. "Angel"
From: The Cry of Love (1971) / First Rays of the New Rising Sun (1997)

Hendrix revisited this sleepy ballad several times in the studio, including a solo take titled "Sweet Angel." The more famous full-band version from the posthumous LP The Cry of Love comes off like a slightly blander take on "May This Be Love." But the angelic imagery ("silver wings silhouetted against the child's sunrise") rises above the roughness.

39. "Beginnings"
From: War Heroes (1972) / First Rays of the New Rising Sun (1997)

This quirky instrumental, unveiled at the Woodstock festival, is credited to Mitch Mitchell — and his cymbal-heavy drumming propels the song's busy four minutes. But Hendrix also turns in an underrated guitar performance, harmonizing with the groggy main riff and thwacking away at complex funk chords.

38. "51st Anniversary"
From: "Purple Haze" B-side (1967) / Smash Hits (1968)

The soulful "51st Anniversary" didn't wind up on either edition of Are You Experienced, relegated instead to the U.K. version of Smash Hits and the B-side of the band's second single, "Purple Haze." As Hendrix sings on the track, which details a derailed marriage, "Ain't that some shame?"

37. "Earth Blues"
From: People, Hell and Angels (2013)

Punchier and more powerful than the overstuffed take released on Rainbow Bridge, this funky posthumous cut features the Band of Gypsys rhythm section of Billy Cox and Buddy Miles.

36. "Straight Ahead"
From: The Cry of Love (1971) / First Rays of the New Rising Sun (1997)

Hendrix's guitars reach funk ecstasy on this limber posthumous track. It feels more like a riff than a song at times, but who cares?

35. "Message to Love"
From: Band of Gypsys (1970)

This peppy blues-funk workout peaks during the intro, with Hendrix and Billy Cox pairing for an ascending, chromatic run that feels like it might roll on forever.

34. "I Don't Live Today"
From: Are You Experienced (1967)

Mitch Mitchell's drumming reaches a rare level of hypnosis, moving from a circular rhythm to a complex pattern with a steady hi-hat pulse and whiplash tom-tom flourishes. Hendrix's ragged guitar conjures an anguish matched by the lyrics: "No sun coming through my windows," he sings. "Feel like I'm sitting at the bottom of a grave."

33. "Love or Confusion"
From: Are You Experienced (1967)

Cinematic feedback and creepy chromatic riffs light up this droning deep cut, on which Hendrix ponders the truth of a relationship.

32. "Voodoo Chile"
From: Electric Ladyland (1968)

This 15-minute blues behemoth emerged from an A-list blues jam, after Hendrix walked from New York City's Record Plant studio over to the Scene club and recruited Traffic's Steve Winwood and Jefferson Airplane bassist Jack Casady. The end result is long-winded but thrilling, with Winwood's organ trading licks with Hendrix's guitar. "If Jimi could have picked a band to have, this would have been a band to have," Eddie Kramer said in an in-studio interview. "'Cause he loved Steve Winwood, and he often said, 'Jeez, I'd love to have Steve Winwood in my band.'"

31. "Hey Baby (New Rising Sun)"
From: Rainbow Bridge (1971) / First Rays of the New Rising Sun (1997)

Hendrix played this minor-key slow burn during the 1970 Cry of Love tour with Mitch Mitchell and Billy Cox. Live recordings abound online, including a 12-minute take from their Los Angeles show. But the studio version first unveiled on the posthumous LP Rainbow Bridge is the choice cut, featuring some spectacular guitar fireworks around two minutes in.

30. "The Stars That Play With Laughing Sam's Dice"
From: "The Burning of the Midnight Lamp" B-side (1967)

Some Hendrix historians label this B-side's title as an inside-baseball-style psychedelic joke, with the initials pointing to hallucinogenic drugs STP and LSD. The music, wild and shape-shifting, hits that same mark. All aboard the "Milky Way Express."

29. "Highway Chile"
From: "The Wind Cries Mary" B-side (1967)

This road-warrior tale is full of delicious details: gritty bent notes, Redding's bass harmony, eyebrow-raising jolts of energy toward the end of the verses.

28. "Come On"
From: Electric Ladyland (1968)

The classic Experience trio of Hendrix, Mitch Mitchell and Noel Redding played together on only five of Electric Ladyland's 16 songs, but the frenetic blues wallop of "Come On" proved they hadn't lost their mojo as a unit. The song's most satisfying moment, though, involves no instruments: It's the tail end of the chorus, when the backing drops out, leaving the guitarist to plead, "Come on, sugar, let the good times roll."

27. "Drifting"
From: The Cry of Love (1971) / First Rays of the New Rising Sun (1997)

A vibraphone shimmers around Hendrix's quilted, psychedelic guitars on this posthumous ballad. The vocal sounds like a work in progress, but "Drifting" is all about the atmosphere, as the title implies.

26. "Crosstown Traffic"
From: Electric Ladyland (1968)

A different Traffic member, multi-instrumentalist Dave Mason, adds backing vocals to this funky single, which earned only modest chart success in the U.K. and U.S. The song is deceptively strange, at least in its construction and arrangement: Mitch Mitchell's heavy drumming propels the stark verses, and Hendrix pairs his lead guitar riff with a kazoo-like squeak made from a comb and tissue paper.

25. "May This Be Love"
From: Are You Experienced (1967)

Here's one Hendrix's most tender vocals, gently cascading through the melody like ripples in a mountain stream. The guitar arrangement is suitably restrained, allowing plenty of space for Mitch Mitchell's booming toms.

24. "Wait Until Tomorrow"
From: Axis: Bold as Love (1967)

This Axis deep cut became a little less deep in 2005: The John Mayer Trio dug up the track for their 2005 live LP, Try!, adding melody and muscle to Hendrix's late-back tale of a doomed romance. But the scrappy original, with all its haphazard drum fills and vocal lines, remains the most charming version.

23. "Stone Free"
From: "Hey Joe" B-side (1967) / Smash Hits (1968)

Mitch Mitchell's clanging cowbell ushers in this straightforward rocker, first released as the B-side to the Experience's first U.K. single, "Hey Joe." "Things were getting too pretentious, too complicated. 'Stone Free,' you know that? That's much simpler," Hendrix told Distant Drummer in 1969. "That's blues and rock and whatever happens happens."

22. "Freedom"
From: The Cry of Love (1971) / First Rays of the New Rising Sun (1997)

The opening track from Hendrix's first posthumous LP, "Freedom" perfects the funk-rock direction of Hendrix's post-Experience phase. The locomotive main riff is the song's heartbeat, but the rhythm section elevates this one: Billy Cox's chromatic run at the six-second mark is a pure jolt of electricity.

21. "Machine Gun"
From: Band of Gypsys (1970) / Songs for Groovy Children: The Fillmore East Concerts (2019)

In which Hendrix protests the Vietnam War both in lyric and sound, using his guitar to recreate the noises of battle: snarling feedback and percussive strikes mimicking explosions and gunfire.

20. "Night Bird Flying"
From: The Cry of Love (1971) / First Rays of the New Rising Sun (1997)

Most of the posthumous Hendrix tunes were unfinished at the time of his death, but the funky "Night Bird Flying" is among a handful widely deemed complete. And it sounds like it: The guitar orchestration is next-level, full of densely layered harmonies, dizzying leads and bruising counter riffs.

19. "If Six Was Nine"
From: Axis: Bold as Love (1967)

It's fitting that "If Six Was Nine," which explores the perpetual culture clash between hippies and "white-collared conservatives," features the ultimate psychedelic freak-out. Halfway through, the track melts into a spastic drum solo, whispers, slide-guitar spasms and the trippiest recorder ever laid to tape. "Now there must have been an instrument lying around in the studio — I don't know where he found this, but somehow he found a recorder, which we all learned to play at school," engineer Eddie Kramer recalled in a behind-the-scenes studio interview.

18. "One Rainy Wish"
From: Axis: Bold as Love (1967)

"Golden rose, the color of the dream I had," Hendrix coos over a wispy ride cymbal groove and tranquil guitar fills splashed like paint on a canvas. "Not too long ago / A misty blue and the lilac too / A never to grow old." "One Rainy Wish" is like a stoned sunset savored on a grassy hillside.

17. "Spanish Castle Magic"
From: Axis: Bold as Love (1967)

The Experience adopt a metallic attack on this heavy blues-rock barn burner. Hendrix's descending, chromatic verse riff sounds like it slithered up from hell, and Noel Redding makes a solitary kick drum sound like a knock at the devil's door — far from the "cotton candy" clouds Hendrix sings about.

16. "Gypsy Eyes"
From: Electric Ladyland (1968)

Hendrix and producer Chas Chandler started to butt heads during the Electric Ladyland sessions, the latter frustrated with the guitarist's pursuit for the perfect take. One famous example is the moaning blues "Gypsy Eyes," as Eddie Kramer documented in an in-studio interview. "We can hear this is the beginning of potentially a good take," he says, playing an unused performance. "But Jimi did this for 30, 40 takes, and it would drive Chas up the bloody wall." Regardless, they wound up with a classic.

15. "Are You Experienced?"
From: Are You Experienced (1967)

Reversed guitars beam down like sun rays through storm cloud drone, with a military-like snare and flickering piano note marching time forward. "If you can just get your mind together / Then come on across to me," Hendrix sings, beckoning us to glimpse the sunrise "from the bottom of the sea."

14. "Dolly Dagger"
From: Rainbow Bridge (1971) / First Rays of the New Rising Sun (1997)

"I think 'Dolly Dagger' is a wonderful example of where Jimi was at at that particular time," Eddie Kramer recalled in an interview for the First Rays of the New Rising Sun bonus DVD. The posthumous track, featuring Mitch Mitchell and Billy Cox, did point the way forward — blending the familiar and fresh, the funky and futuristic.

13. "Ain't No Telling"
From: Axis: Bold as Love (1967)

"Ain't No Telling" is somehow Hendrix at his catchiest and most experimental: The jazzy chord changes and dense rhythmic shifts underscore his influence on proto-prog, yet the titular hook bounces over top undistracted by the showmanship.

12. "The Wind Cries Mary"
From: Are You Experienced (North American) (1967)

This airy ballad, a U.K. hit left off that edition of Experienced, was tracked during the end of the band's session for "Fire," as Chas Chandler noted in Ultimate Hendrix. “We had about [20] minutes or so left," he said. "I suggested we cut a demo of ‘The Wind Cries Mary.’ Mitch Mitchell and Noel Redding hadn’t heard it, so they were going about it without a rehearsal. They played it once through [and Hendrix then suggested overdubs]. In all, he put on four or five more overdubs, but the whole things was done in [20] minutes. That was our third single.”

11. "Foxey Lady"
From: Are You Experienced (1967)

This scorching psych-rock single — spelled "Foxy Lady" on the U.K. pressing — soundtracked one of the funniest movie scenes of the '90s: Dana Carvey's Garth Algar from Wayne's World daydreaming his confident approach to a beautiful woman in a doughnut shop. Fittingly, it's one of Hendrix's most playful tracks — from the whispered "foxy" on the chorus to the guitarist boasting, "Here I come, baby — I'm comin' to get ya!"

10. "1983 … (A Merman I Should Turn to Be)"
From: Electric Ladyland (1968)

Hendrix was never afraid to get political (see "Machine Gun"). But few, both in his troubled era and beyond, reached his level of headphone escapism. A prime example is the 13-minute epic "1983," which dominates side three of Electric Ladyland. "That's something to keep your mind off what's happening today, but not necessarily completely hiding away from it like some people might do, with certain drugs and so forth," Hendrix told International Times in 1969.

9. "Manic Depression"
From: Are You Experienced (1967)

Mitch Mitchell's chaotic jazz-rock cymbal groove is the engine of "Manic Depression," a sizzling, soul-searching highlight from the band's debut LP. "I'm just like any other drummer. I stole things from other drummers I could think of," the percussionist told Drum Magazine in 2012. "'Manic Depression' comes to mind. I stole that completely from, of all people, the drummer called Ronnie Stephenson. It came from John Dankworth's 'African Waltz.' It's just what fitted in. I heard this rhythm that Jimi was playing on guitar, and I thought, 'Oh, yeah, it's that kind of feel.' So, thank you, Ronny Stephenson."

8. "Hey Joe"
From: Are You Experienced (North American) (1967)

After leaving his spot as the Animals' bassist, Chas Chandler started managing and producing other artists — and a top priority was finding a band to cut a rock version of the traditional folk tune "Hey Joe." He found the perfect vehicle for the song's gun-wielding drama in Hendrix, who recorded it for the first Experience LP. The song wound up a major U.K. hit, establishing the guitarist's virtuosity and soulfulness — but the recording wasn't exactly seamless. “‘Hey Joe’ is a very difficult song to do right and it took forever,” Noel Redding wrote in his 1996 autobiography, Are You Experienced. “The Marshalls were too much for the mikes, and Chas and Jimi rowed over recording volume. That ‘loud,’ full, live sound was nearly impossible to obtain (especially for the bass) without the distortion, which funnily enough became part of our sound.”

7. "Bold as Love"
From: Axis: Bold as Love (1967)

Over a clean riff full of swooping hammer-ons, Hendrix labels his emotions like hues of a rainbow: "Orange is young, full of daring / But very unsteady for the first go-round / My yellow in this case is not so mellow / In fact, I'm trying to say it's frightened like me." "Some feelings make you think of different colors," he told Black Music Review for a January 1969 piece. "Jealousy is purple — I'm purple with rage or purple with anger — and green is envy, all this. This is like you explain your different emotions in colors towards this certain girl who has all the colors in the world, you know. In other words, you don't think you have to part with these emotions. But you're willing to try."

6. "Fire"
From: Are You Experienced (1967)

Hendrix and Noel Redding play it cool throughout most of this monster, allowing Mitch Mitchell space to go nuts with his jazzy snare rolls and clattering fills. Rock music of this high caliber of skill is rarely so fun. "Move over, Rover — and let Jimi take over," Hendrix half-sings over the din. It's a demand, not a request.

5. "Castles Made of Sand"
From: Axis: Bold as Love (1967)

"This is an imagination gone wild," Eddie Kramer remarked of this pensive masterpiece, marveling at Hendrix's colorful lyrics. Throughout, the guitarist explores destructive relationships, depression and childhood fantasies — all linked by the imagery of sand, like time, drifting away. "Castles" also contains some of his most innovative guitar work — from the slippery chord changes in the verses to the dagger-like octave stabs of the fade-out.

4. "Voodoo Child (Slight Return)"
From: Electric Ladyland (1968)

This wah-wah wonder, based on the more expansive blues jam "Voodoo Chile," is a refined take featuring the classic Experience trio lineup. "Somebody was filming us as we were doing that," Hendrix told Rolling Stone of the improvisation. "It was basically for the filming, we thought. We weren’t thinking about what we were playing. We did it like three times. … It was in the studio and they were recording it, you know, really. So it was one-two-three and then we went into ‘Voodoo Child.’"

3. "Purple Haze"
From: Are You Experienced (1967)

"Purple Haze" — inspired by a dream where Hendrix walked beneath the sea — expanded the range of electric guitar in a studio setting. Working with Chas Chandler, Hendrix fed his instrument through an arsenal of effects (including his newly acquired Octavia pedal), pitch-shifting and panning, culminating in a solo with an unexpected Middle Eastern quality. It's the definitive psychedelic rock song.

2. "All Along the Watchtower"
From: Electric Ladyland (1968)

Just like Manfred Mann with his floor-to-ceiling renovation of Bruce Springsteen's "Blinded by the Light," Hendrix approached the work of a revered songwriter and made it distinctly his own. The guitarist transforms Bob Dylan's strummy folk tune into a psychedelic epic, adding rock drama to a disorienting lyric of jokers, thieves and princes. "He doesn’t inspire me, actually, because I could never write the kind of words he does," Hendrix said of Dylan in 1967. "But he’s helped me out in trying to write about two or three words ’cause I got a thousand songs that will never be finished. I just lie around and write about two or three words, but now I have a little more confidence in trying to finish one."

1. "Little Wing"
From: Axis: Bold as Love (1967)

Nailing the intro to "Little Wing" is the guitar equivalent of reaching the summit of Mount Everest — you better document it or no one will believe you. The solo is a subtle show of virtuosity: built as much on rhythm as melody, sloppy in that classic Hendrix style. And it introduces the songwriter's ultimate tune, a melancholy psych-soul daydream in which the protagonist strolls through the clouds "with a circus mind that's running wild."

 

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