OK record nerds, time for more Hendrix pressing minutiae. For many decades, like most of the rest of the world (or at least Hendrix collectors) I accepted the conventional wisdom that the first pressing of Hendrix’s 1966 debut single, “Hey Joe/Stone Free” on UK Polydor had red labels and a black and white logo. Yes, there were a bunch of variants, with punch out or solid centers, and ones that credited to either “Jimi Hendrix”, “Jimi Hendrix Experience” or “The Jimi Hendrix Experience”, but the version with the red label and black and white logo was by all accounts the earliest pressing (we’ll ignore those variations here, for everyone’s sanity).
A few years ago I saw a copy on Discogs that had a textured label that looked darker red, with an all black logo instead of the black/white one. I shrugged it off, thinking it must be a printing error, but something about it stuck in my mind. One day I decided to see if I could find other Polydor 45’s with that unusual label. “Hey Joe” has the catalog number Polydor 56139, so I just started putting Polydor numbers lower than that into the Discogs database, and soon found 45’s by Valerie Masters (56135) and Normie Rowe (56132) with the same darker red/black type label. So it wasn’t a mistake!
Searching in the other direction, I found the Polydor single released immediately after Hendrix’s debut, Wee Willie Harris’ “Listen to the River Roll Along” had the familiar black label with the red/white logo. Voila! The first pressing of “Hey Joe/Stone Free” was clearly the last Polydor single issued with the all black logo label. When it became a hit, Polydor repressed the single on their “new” labels, with the red/white logo.
Now I know this is trivia, but it interested me, as I’m sure it will some of you. If you are one of those people, here are links to two posts debunking the popular myth that the first pressings of Electric Ladyland are the ones with the blue type.
Now back to the real world!
July 16, 2019