Covering a Jimi Hendrix song is quite the risky venture; after all, a lot of folks consider him rock’s all-time greatest guitarist, and his voice wasn’t too shabby, either. Saturday night, a whole bunch of musicians will nonetheless take their shot—guys like Buddy Guy, David Hidalgo, Eric Johnson, Kenny Wayne Shepherd and Jonny Lang, with help from former Hendrix bandmates Mitch Mitchell and Billy Cox.
To get you ready, here’s a handful of Hendrix covers we’ll actually go so far as to endorse:
1. “Hey Joe,” Patti Smith: Sure, her spoken-word Patti Hearst intro is crude, but there’s no denying her 1974 shot at the murderous “Joe” feels anything but traditional.
2 “Are U Experienced?,” Devo: Total compositional deconstruction (as if we’d expect anything else from Devo), with a quick “Third Stone From the Sun” sojourn—and an appropriately bizarro ’80s video—to boot.
3 “Little Wing,” Stevie Ray Vaughan: SRV forgoes vocals to eke every last drop of emotion from his Grammy-winning, posthumously released homage. (His live “Voodoo Child (Slight Return)” is also pretty fantastic.)
4 “Bold as Love,” The Pretenders: Chrissie Hynde’s lustrous gender-reversal is one of the few tolerable cuts on 1993’s Hendrix tribute album Stone Free (pictured above).
5 “Machine Gun,” Praxis: Visit Youtube.com/watch?v=pngkxpmhMAg (and skip to the 3:44 mark if you can’t stomach the Stars Wars jam it segues out of) to witness this psychedelic trip by Buckethead & Co. from 2006’s Vegoose festival. Yep, it happened right here in Vegas.