An expanded version of this article appears in my upcoming book ‘Cover Me: The Stories Behind the Greatest Cover Songs of All Time’. Preorder it at Amazon.
Brian Jones was in bad shape.
The Rolling Stone had staggered into London’s Olympic Studios, where Jimi Hendrix was trying to record a new Bob Dylan song, “All Along the Watchtower.” Though Jones could barely stand upright, he demanded to play on the track. There had already been many takes and the arrangement was just starting to come together, but Hendrix, ever accommodating to his friends, sat Jones down at a piano. Jones jumped right in, not letting inebriation limit his enthusiasm, and began producing off-beat clunks and clangs that caused Hendrix to stop the take in frustration after only 23 seconds.
What would become known as the greatest cover song ever recorded was quickly falling apart.