May 1967: The Jimi Hendrix Experience Reinvent Rock with "Are You Experienced"

GERMANY - MARCH 01: Photo of JIMI HENDRIX EXPERIENCE and Jimi HENDRIX; L-R Mitch Mitchell, Jimi Hendrix, Noel Redding - Jimi Hendrix Experience - posed, group shot (Photo by Gunter Zint/K & K Ulf Kruger OHG/Redferns)
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(Gunter Zint/K & K Ulf Kruger OHG/Redferns)

The UK got it first, literally and figuratively. After moving overseas to improve his lot in the music industry, Jimi Hendrix teamed up with bass player Noel Redding and drummer Mitch Mitchell to start a band. The Jimi Hendrix Experience released Are You Experienced in England on May 12, 1967, a good three months before it arrived in America that August.

The album was an immediate hit in England, where the band had begun to build a strong following through constant touring. It arrived in the US with a band, soaring up the charts to peak at #5, with an impressive 106-week chart run. Are You Experienced even got as high as #10 on the Hot R&B LPs chart.

Packed with classics and classic rock radio favorites including "Foxy Lady," "Fire," and the title track, Are You Experienced has been often cited as the greatest rock debut album of all-time.

“When it came out, nothing else had ever sounded like this. Super special,” Iggy Pop said of the record, which he listed among his top 12 favorite LPs in history.

Not everyone was as charmed by the album. Rolling Stone magazine famously gave the record a lukewarm review, with the writer upset that "Above all, this record is unrelentingly violent, and lyrically, inartistically violent at that."

Interestingly enough,  Rolling Stone would go on to cite Are You Experienced as #15 when the magazine broke down their "500 Greatest Albums of All-Time."

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