Skip to main content

James Williamson: Jimi Hendrix "smoked" Eric Clapton with 'Are You Experienced'

The Stooges guitarist talks "enormous" impact of Hendrix's 1967 debut.
James Williamson

James Williamson

The Jimi Hendrix Experience’s 1967 album Are You Experienced is one of the greatest and most influential debuts in all of rock and roll history. Led by Hendrix’s innovative, otherworldly guitar playing and locked down by the killer rhythm section of bassist Noel Redding and drummer Mitch Mitchell, the album was a critical and commercial success thanks to its now iconic songs including “Foxey Lady,” “Manic Depression,” “Purple Haze,” “Fire” and more.

Are You Experienced was a total gamechanger that became a late-‘60s cultural touchstone and expanded people’s ideas of what could be achieved with just six strings, a bass and drums. Its impact cannot be calculated; countless artists consider the album to be a key influence on their own musical expressions, including the Stooges guitarist James Williamson.

When we talked to Williamson about the 10 albums that shaped him as an artist, Are You Experienced made the cut. Below, he reveals the profound impact that Jimi Hendrix’s debut made on him.

“Jimi Hendrix Are You Experienced … I mean, that was enormous and has to be noted. You know, I’m not even sure what heavy metal means but... Jimi certainly raised the bar on what a guitar player could be and what it means. If you’re gonna call somebody the best guitar player, I think it’s him. All these guys like Eric Clapton and so forth... he was a fine guitar player, but they completely got smoked when Jimi Hendrix came around. Jimi was a really, really talented guy who had his own thing.”