Remembering Jimi Hendrix: 5 Live Covers Of ‘Little Wing’

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Legendary guitarist Jimi Hendrix died on this date 50 years ago. Regarded among the greatest electric guitar players to ever pick up the instrument, Hendrix’s admiration among fellow musicians and generations of adoring fans is unparalleled.

Guitarists ranging from novice to virtuoso have regularly played songs written and performed by Hendrix to hone their chops and learn many of rock ‘n’ roll’s most recognizable riffs. Among the many, instantly identifiable riffs Hendrix created is the open line to “Little Wing.” The brief track off the Jimi Hendrix Experience’s 1967 album, Axis: Bold As Love, fades out just as it was seemingly ready to take full flight.

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Subsequent covers have taken the song well beyond what Hendrix laid down in the studio with bassist Noel Redding and drummer Mitch Mitchell. Below are five live cover performances of “Little Wing” found in the JamBase Live Video Archive featuring Eric Clapton, The Allman Brothers Band, Trey Anastasio, Tedeschi Trucks Band, Widespread Panic, Zero, Jerry Joseph, Nels Cline and others honoring Jimi over the years.

The Allman Brothers Band With Eric Clapton | March 19, 2009

Perhaps the most well-known adaptation of “Little Wing,” was its inclusion on Eric Clapton’s 1970 Derek & The Dominos masterpiece, Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs, which featured legendary guitarist Duane Allman and was recorded shortly before Hendrix’s death on September 18, 1970. The Allman Brothers Band’s 40th anniversary celebration held in March 2009 at their annual Beacon Theatre residency in New York City saw many guests join the legendary band. As part of a tribute to Duane Allman, who died in 1971 at age 24, The Allman Brothers invited Clapton to guest with the band whose lineup at the time consisted of keyboardist Gregg Allman, drummers Butch Trucks and Jaimoe, percussionist Marc Quiñones, bassist Oteil Burbridge and guitarists Derek Trucks and Warren Haynes.

In Alan Paul’s book about The Allman Brothers Band, One Way Out: The Inside History of the Allman Brothers Band, Haynes recalled the Clapton collaboration, stating:

We were all very impressed with Eric’s desire to learn Allman Brothers songs rather than just get up and jam and not just choose ones that would make it easy on everybody. We were hoping for the opportunity to play some of the centerpieces, like “Dreams” and “Liz Reed” and Eric was more than game. “Little Wing” was an afterthought and the coolest part of the rehearsal. Everything went very smoothly and when we had basically played through all the songs we agreed upon, Eric looked around and said, “Is there anything else we should think about? What about ‘Little Wing’?” Our group reaction was, “Well, we’ve never played it, but sure.” We started working it up from scratch and I thought it was one of the highlights.

Clapton’s “Little Wing” suggestion was particularly profound since it was Duane Allman’s idea to record it on Layla. Clapton and Haynes sang harmony vocals on the song. On Thursday, March 19, 2009, Clapton joined the band for six songs: “Key To The Highway,” trading vocal verses with Gregg, “Dreams,” “Little Wing” and Derek and the Dominos’ “Why Does Love Got To Be So Sad?”, “Anyday” and “Layla.” The next night, he also played “Stormy Monday” and “In Memory of Elizabeth Reed.”


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The Allman Brothers Band (See 216 videos) , Eric Clapton (See 20 videos) , Susan Tedeschi (See 25 videos) and Danny Louis (See 16 videos)
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Tedeschi Trucks Band With Trey Anastasio | LOCKN’ 2019

At last summer’s LOCKN’ festival in Arrington, Virginia, pre-announced collaborative sets paired the Trey Anastasio Band with the Tedeschi Trucks Band. First, Tedeschi and Trucks sat-in with TAB, followed the next night by Anastasio sitting-in with TTB. For Trey’s sit-in with Tedeschi Trucks Band, the musicians prepared a complete re-creation of Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs. Anastasio and Trucks slayed the performance of “Little Wing,” one of several highlights of a highlight-filled set.


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Tedeschi Trucks Band (See 143 videos) and Trey Anastasio (See 112 videos)

Widespread Panic With Susan Tedeschi, Derek Trucks & Mike Mills | December 30, 2006

Between 1985 and 1989, when Widespread Panic was starting out in Athens, Georgia, the band regularly covered “Little Wing,” led by co-founding guitarist Michael Houser, who sadly died in 2002 at age 40 from pancreatic cancer. Houser was eventually replaced by one-time Allman Brothers Band guitarist Jimmy Herring. On December 30, 2006, WSP played a show at Philips Arena in Atlanta coinciding with Herring’s birthday. The encore on the eve of New Year’s Eve began with Panic bringing out Tedeschi and Trucks, as well as fellow Athens-musician, R.E.M.’s Mike Mills who played keyboards on a collaborative rendering of “Little Wing.”


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Widespread Panic (See 349 videos) , Derek Trucks (See 29 videos) , Mike Mills and Susan Tedeschi (See 25 videos)
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Zero With Jerry Joseph | July 12, 1990

While Derek Trucks does not appear in this video, frequent Widespread Panic collaborator Jerry Joesph does. Taped on July 12, 1990 in Portland, Oregon, this footage features Joseph sitting-in with Zero, the Bay Area band formed by guitarist Steve Kimock and drummer Greg Anton in 1984. In typical-for-the-time fashion, Zero’s arrangement of “Little Wing” seen above was completely instrumental. Zero also included a cover of “Little Wing” for their 1998 live album, Nothin’ Lasts Forever with vocals provided by Judge Murphy.


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Steve Kimock (See 65 videos)
Zero (See 52 videos) and Jerry Joseph (See 19 videos)

Nels Cline | February 24, 2018

Wilco might not be the first band that comes to mind when Jimi Hendrix’s “Little Wing” is the topic of discussion. However, Wilco guitarist Nels Cline’s talents both with Wilco and with the other projects and performances he’s participated in over the years are certainly worthy of the high praise Cline’s musicianship garners. Cline discussed his love for Hendrix during an appearance on The JamBase Podcast, recalling:

Jimi Hendrix is my first inspiration to play guitar for real … One Saturday afternoon, on the Top 30 radio station, which in those days was just one list, all styles represented. And before the advent of underground FM in California, Southern California — we heard “Manic Depression,” which the DJ played, instead of the single, which, I reflected upon later, was “Purple Haze.” I don’t know why he played it.

But we had seen this album cover and hadn’t bought it yet. We used to buy a record every two weeks with our allowance and we’d each get a record and sometimes the record would not be that great because there was no way to hear anything on the record other than the one single, or it just looked cool and we’d buy it. So, we were a little cautious having been burned with kind of uninspiring records, even though it looked like maybe one of the coolest records ever — Are You Experienced? I mean.

So when that song came on [the radio] that Saturday afternoon as we were sitting around the Gerard hi-fi we knew right away it was that record. We could tell that it was a trio. We could tell that it was psychedelic and exciting. And we could tell it was a black guy singing — something about his voice. And we were literally freaking out. We were jumping up and down: “This is that Jimi Hendrix record! It has to be!”

And then when he does that step up where he’s playing and singing with his guitar and then goes into the guitar solo. That was it. That was it. I’ve never been the same. And I just knew right then that, I mean, I already had the idea in my head, but it was cemented in the moment that I was just going to play music for the rest of my life.

In February 2018, Cline was tasked with showcasing his affinity for Hendrix by leading a tribute to the guitar icon at Brooklyn Music School on whose advisory board Cline serves. The special performance saw Cline backed by keyboardist John Medeski, drummer Donald McKenzie and bassist Trevor Dunn and other guests. One of the auxiliary players was guitarist Sean Ono Lennon, who was on stage with the ensemble for “Little Wing,” which will start when clicking the video above.


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Nels Cline (See 8 videos)
JamBase Live Video Archive
JamBase Live Video Archive