The song Hey Joe was a momentary blip on the pop music scene in 1965 courtesy of a Southern California band called The Leaves. It would be their only hit. But over the next 50 plus years, the quirky song about premeditated murder went on to become something special, a musical rite of passage for the likes of Jimi Hendrix, Patti Smith, Led Zeppelin and countless others. It was a perennial that any teen band worth their limited chops coveted and recorded and finally it was an entry in The Guinness Book of World Records when thousands of people got together to play the song as the ultimate jam.
Part, history, part mystery and part memoir, the book Hey Joe: The Unauthorized Biography of a Rock Classic by New York Times bestselling author Marc Shapiro is, through extensive and exhaustive research that included the memories of countless well known musicians who were part of the Hey Joe odyssey, a detailed look at the history of Hey Joe, the song that few have ever thought to think deeply about and the rumors, legends and outlandish tales surrounding the song that ultimately culminate in the ultimate question…
Hey Joe, where you going with that gun in your hand?
In Hey Joe: The Unauthorized Biography of a Rock Classic readers will learn…
The family tree of songs that spanned decades and finally spawned Hey Joe.
Who actually wrote the song?
How close Hendrix came to not recording Hey Joe.
The mystery of who actually recorded the first version of Hey Joe. No it was not The Leaves. Would you believe Kim Fowley? Or The Surfaris?
What a very young Bruce Springsteen had to do with the song.
Nearly 3000 versions of Hey Joe, familiar, obscure and, in many cases, downright impossible to find, have been recorded and released.