“Little Wing” is a song written by Jimi Hendrix and recorded by the Jimi Hendrix Experience in 1967. It is a slower tempo, rhythm and blues-inspired ballad featuring Hendrix’s vocal and guitar with recording studio effects accompanied by bass, drums, and glockenspiel. Lyrically, it is one of several of his songs that reference an idealized feminine or guardian angel-like figure. At about two and a half minutes in length, it is one of his most concise and melodically-focused pieces.
The origins of “Little Wing” have been traced back to the 1966 recording of “(My Girl) She’s a Fox”, an R&B song which features Hendrix playing Curtis Mayfield-influenced guitar accompaniment. He developed the song while performing in New York City’s Greenwich Village prior to his involvement with producer Chas Chandler. After being inspired by events at the 1967 Monterey Pop Festival, Hendrix completed the song in October 1967, when it was recorded by the Experience during the sessions for their second album Axis: Bold as Love.
“Little Wing” was released with the Axis album in December 1967 in the UK and the following month in the US. As one of only two songs from the album to become part of the Experience’s concert repertoire, the Experience often performed it live and recordings were issued on early Hendrix posthumous albums Hendrix in the West in 1972 and The Jimi Hendrix Concerts in 1982. More recently, demo versions have been released as well as additional live renditions. “Little Wing” is one of Hendrix’s most popular songs and has become a standard, with interpretations recorded by musicians in a variety of styles. It is ranked number 366 on Rolling Stone magazine’s list of the “500 Greatest Songs of All Time”.
In 2004, Rolling Stone magazine included “Little Wing” on its list of the “500 Greatest Songs of All Time” at number 366. As one of Jimi Hendrix’s most popular songs, “Little Wing” has been interpreted by many musicians. Stevie Ray Vaughan recorded an instrumental version in 1984 that was released on The Sky Is Crying in 1991. In 1987, Sting recorded it for his second solo album …Nothing Like the Sun, with an arrangement by Gil Evans.
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