September 04, 2022

Noel Redding on Jimi Hendrix's "Red House"

In 1989 Jas Obrecht was an editor for Guitar Player, who wrote a piece about the Jimi Hendrix classic Red House: "we scored an unreleased recording of the Jimi Hendrix Experience playing “Red House” at San Francisco’s Winterland. In those days, we included a flexi-disc “Soundpage” in the issues, which readers could tear out and play on their turntables. Jim Marshall provided us with a stunning cover photo, and I volunteered to write the copy." He reached out to Billy Cox, Joe Satriani, Stevie Ray Vaughan, and Noel Redding, to share their throughts on the track. Jimi's original bass player Redding was hard to track down - he lived in Ireland then - but alo and behold, after a couple of weeks he received "six hand-annotated pages from a dot-matrix printer", in which Redding went in at the deep end to tell his side of the story. All pages from that fax are available on Obrecht's substack page.

To me "Red House" was Jimi's way of using his musical roots, everything he knew and understood best, in our pop context. A standard blues structure, it allowed him infinite freedom in a. familiar, and therefore relaxing, area. The blues are made for the guitar and "Red House" is no exception. Jimi could play it as short or as long as the mood moved him. Being a rock and roller, I preferred the shorter versions though in the last year and a half of the group (early 1966 to mid-1969) our gigs were mostly extended jams. Sometimes they'd go on so long I'd just say 'fuck it' and stop, take a break, return and lead everyone back into the song.

There's no bass on the original recording released on our Polydor 1p "Are You Experienced". It was late 66 or early 67, in Kingsway Studios, London, if I remember right, when Jimi said to us, "This is a blues in B" (B because we were down half a tone). I borrowed a terrible, awful, hollowbody electric guitar from someone at the studio - it might have been Alan Freeman - because I liked to play along on rhythm to familiarize myself with the sequence. From being a full- time lead guitarist, I was very nervous about playing bass for some time. We ended up just recording it. First take, I think. My guitar's bass was turned full up to make a good contrast to Jimi's.

Obviously, live I used the bass except for rare occasions like a Paris Olympia concert when Keith Richards had been hanging around backstage. I borrowed his guitar, plugged it into my bass amp, and turned the tone control to full bass. Nobody planned on changing instruments then as part of the act - too flash.


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