Voodoo Child. One of Jimi Hendrix’s most famous and influential songs. An example of some of the greatest guitar playing in history. A true Rock n’ Roll classic. And an homage to the blues. More specifically—the Catfish Blues.
The Catfish Blues is a song with a long history. A folk song risen up right out of the river water of the Mississippi Delta. Hendrix probably knew the first recording of it, from Robert Petway in 1941.
But ALL the delta bluesmen sang Catfish Blues. David “Honeyboy” Edwards, Jack Owens, Skip James, they all cast out their line.
Of course, no two catfish are the same, and with each interpretation the fish grew and changed. Eventually it left the Delta. Swam upstream—along with a Mississippi bluesman who’d moved to Chicago. A man named Muddy Waters.
Muddy took that Catfish and blew it out of the water. He plugged in his guitar—and called it a Rollin’ Stone. It’s Muddy’s version of Catfish Blues that inspired the greatest rock n’ roll band in the world, and named a famous magazine. And it’s his version that evolved into the Voodoo Child of Hendrix fame.
Here it is. From 1950, Muddy Waters with Rollin’ Stone.