Movie Songs

The 20 Greatest Uses of Jimi Hendrix Songs in Movies

April 4, 202416 Mins Read

Jimi Hendrix was often paradoxical as a musician and human being. He was the greatest virtuoso guitarist of the 1960s, but was musically illiterate. His band became the biggest touring act of the late ’60s, but he rarely sought promotion or did interviews. He grew up an impoverished Black child of a single mother in Seattle, but grew to dominate the predominantly-White British Blues scene in England. His innovative, psychedelic fashion sense diverged completely from his culture, but his music was more cognizant of African-American influence than almost any rock musician of his era.

Hendrix’s live performances were the stuff of legend, from setting his guitar ablaze at the Monterey Pop Festival, to his unforgettable renditions of “The Star-Spangled Banner” at Woodstock and the Atlanta Pop Festival.

By the time of his death in 1970 at the cursed age of 27, he had become the most-revered guitarist of the 20th Century, and soon after his death, his music began appearing in movies that hoped to encapsulate the experience of the Vietnam Era. In the half-century since his death, his musical influence has only grown, thanks largely to his songs being introduced to successive generations through licensing in movies. The following are the 20 greatest uses of Jimi Hendrix songs in movies.

20 “Voodoo Child (Slight Return)” – Lords of Dogtown (2005)

Lords of Dogtown sets the Rock ‘n’ Roll tone early in the film, with Hendrix’s “Voodoo Child” playing over the opening credits, as we’re introduced to various members of the Zephyr skateboarding team. The rock star personas of the pioneering Z-Boys required musical backing that was appropriate for the era and high octane enough to soundtrack this cultural watershed moment.

“Voodoo Child” Proved to Be Hendrix’s Most Licensed Song

The powerful imagery of Jimi’s lyrics, “Well I stand up next to a mountain, and chop it down with the edge of my hand” paired with the scratchy guitar vamping on the intro have made this track iconic. Hendrix’s music, which seems shot out of a cannon, had a mirroring effect with the Z-Boys and skateboarding’s development from a simple toy into a lifestyle. Stream Lords of Dogtown on FuboTV.

19 “Purple Haze” – Minions (2015)



Release Date
June 17, 2015

Kyle Balda , Pierre Coffin


Minions might seem a bit too juvenile to include the Hendrix song “Purple Haze,” given that the lyrics’ ambiguity has long led listeners to believe the track was about a psychedelic trip. Not so, as Hendrix said that it’s actually a love song.

This tracks with the lyric “That girl put a spell on me” — perhaps a nod to Hendrix influencer Screamin’ Jay Hawkins, of Jim Jarmusch fame. The track comes during a scene when Stuart is admiring Scarlett’s Hendrix-like guitar, and was also included in the film’s trailer.

The Cultural Significance of “Purple Haze”

“Purple Haze” was written by Hendrix after former Animals bassist Chas Chandler discovered him in New York City and brought him to London. After hearing Hendrix toying around with the riff, Chandler encouraged Hendrix to write a song around it. The song charted at number 3 in the UK, and became one of the anthems of the psychedelic rock movement. Rent Minions on AppleTV+.

Related: The Best Minions Movies, Ranked

18 “Voodoo Child (Slight Return)” – Withnail and I (1987)

Withnail and I is the king of all English cult comedies, with a drug-addled performance from Richard E. Grant that’s the most hilariously-unhinged role of his career. The film takes place in 1969, when Hendrix’s band was the most sought after touring act in the world, and he was at the height of his powers. The dark comedy follows two unemployed actors who drive to the English countryside for a vacation that goes massively awry.

Ralph Brown’s Amazing Character Was the Hendrix Era Personified

While Grant’s posh washout Withnail paced the film, the most memorable character is Danny the Drug Dealer (Ralph Brown), who is so beloved in the comedy world that Mike Myers reconstituted the character for Wayne’s World 2.

Danny seems like he could have been Hendrix’s plug, and Withnail and I (we never learn the main character’s name) take a joyous ride back to London in the 3rd act with the aid of Danny’s wares and “Voodoo Child (Slight Return)” blaring on the car radio. Stream Withnail and I on Max.

17 “The Star-Spangled Banner” in Cars



Release Date
June 8, 2006


Cars was another animated film for kids that you wouldn’t expect to hear a Hendrix song in, showing how much the rock icon crossed over into the mainstream following his death in 1970. One reason was iconic performances like his rendition of “The Star-Spangled Banner” at Woodstock, with a high gain, heavily-distorted Stratocaster.

Cars Brought Hendrix to a New Generation

For the uninitiated, Jimi Hendrix’s “Star-Spangled Banner” might seem a bit jarring, at first, especially for a young kid who’s only heard Francis Scott Key’s patriotic song at ballgames.

Music can be the conduit through which future generations learn about their nation’s past, and with Hendrix’s rendition of “The Star-Spangled Banner,” kids watching Cars heard the sound of The War at Home — which Hendrix played at the most famous protest concert in history at the height of the Vietnam War. Heavy for young audiences of an animated film — but maybe transcendent. Stream Cars on Disney+.

16 “Have You Ever Been (To Electric Ladyland)” – High Fidelity (2000)

Nick Hornby’s novel, High Fidelity, had become a Bestseller after its 1995 publishing, striking a chord with an existential novel set to the backdrop of vinyl-digging record store clerks in England. For the film adaptation, Stephen Frears changed the setting to Chicago, and cast John Cusack as an Americanized version of Rob from the novel.

Why Hendrix Was Essential to This Memorable Soundtrack

Central to the film’s impact was cobbling together a soundtrack that mixed new and old, with songs that the film made famous, like the Beta Band’s “Dry the Rain.” Still, the film made efforts to acknowledge ’60s rock ‘n’ roll — specifically when Rob listens to “Have You Ever Been (To Electric Ladyland)” while playing old records with his girlfriend. Rent High Fidelity on AppleTV+.

15 “Hey Joe” – Wayne’s World 2 (1993)

Wayne's World 2

Wayne’s World 2

Release Date
December 10, 1993

Stephen Surjik


Wayne’s World 2 had the benefit of the prior film’s success, but also benefited from introducing some new characters, including Chris Farley as the roadie Milton, and Ralph Brown reprising his Danny role from Withnail and I as Del Preston. The soundtrack had a bevy of classic rock hits, including “I Love Rock ‘N’ Roll” by Joan Jett, and Hendrix’s “Hey Joe.”

’90s Soundtracks Often Included ’60s Staples

Some of the landmark soundtracks of the ’90s, including Singles, featured a mix of current alternative and ’60-’70s rock tracks. Wayne’s World 2 was no different, incorporating tracks like “Hey Joe”, which appeared in a scene when Wayne and his gang of roadies cleans up after his epic music festival, Waynestock. Rent Wayne’s World 2 on AppleTV+.

14 “All Along the Watchtower” – Watchmen (2009)



Release Date
March 4, 2009


Watchmen went a less obvious route in licensing a Jimi Hendrix song, using “All Along the Watchtower,” which was a Hendrix cover of a Bob Dylan song, from Dylan’s fourth studio album John Wesley Harding. Hendrix took the concept and ran with it, creating an upbeat version that still maintained the original song’s drama.

A Tribute to Dylan Becomes a Hendrix Hit

Hendrix was a huge admirer of Dylan and The Beatles, paying homage through his own, often-more-famous covers. Hendrix’s most famous version of the song appeared on Electric Ladyland, his 1968 studio album, and Hendrix’s version has become so beloved, that people often forget this was originally a Bob Dylan song. Stream Watchmen on Max.

13 “Machine Gun” – A Serious Man (2009)

A Serious Man captured the Coen Brothers’ Midwestern Jewish ethos in a nutshell, becoming their most personal film to that point, by examining the odd existence of their upbringing. It took a version of Tim Burton’s cookie-cutter suburban America and placed an awkward family at its center, with Lawrence (Michael Stuhlbarg) often grasping at straws.

Lawrence’s Existential Odyssey Leads Him to the Hippies

Sometimes Lawrence takes the counsel of his young Rabbi, other times he wanders into a psychedelic world he knows little about — with his forward-thinking neighbor, Vivienne (Amy Landecker). That’s clearly conveyed when Lawrence happens upon her smoking a doobie and listening to the wah-wah pedal on Hendrix’s “Machine Gun.”

The track is mainly instrumental, but on the live version with the Band of Gypsys, Hendrix dedicates the song to those fighting abroad — and at home. A historical watermark for the song that locates the film right inside a tumultuous 1960s. Rent A Serious Man on AppleTV+.

12 “Manic Depression” – Coming Home (1978)

Screenshot 2024-04-01 161827

Coming Home

Release Date
February 15, 1978

127 Minutes

Hal Ashby, along with Robert Altman, may be the most important director in terms of encapsulating the post-Vietnam experience in America.

With Coming Home, he got two stellar performances from his lead actors, with Jon Voight and Jane Fonda winning Best Actor and Best Actress, respectively, at the 51st Academy Awards. The film’s soundtrack is a murderer’s row of the ’60s most influential artists, including Hendrix’s rarely-licensed “Manic Depression.”

Hendrix’s Music Creates an Immediate Vietnam War Association

Early in his career, Hendrix was surprisingly in favor of U.S. involvement in Vietnam, having served as a member of the 101st Airborne. Later in his career, that stance seemed to change. In fact, Hendrix was known to be a favorite artist for soldiers fighting in Vietnam, creating an association that made Hendrix’s inclusion on Vietnam soundtracks essential. Coming Home not currently available to stream.

11 “May This Be Love” – Singles (1992)



Release Date
September 18, 1992

99 Minutes

Singles was a landmark film for the Grunge Movement, for Cameron Crowe’s ’90s-dominating career arc, and for reinforcing the ’60s influence on Late-Century Pop Rock. As Grunge was in full swing, with Pearl Jam, Soundgarden and Nirvana (who opted out of Singles) getting heavy play on the radio and MTV, Seattle had suddenly become the epicenter of Alternative Rock.

Crowe set the film in the Emerald City, which was where Jimi Hendrix was born and spent most of his childhood.

How Singles Paid Tribute to Hendrix

In an early scene, Cliff (Matt Dillon), an aspiring Grunge musician, poses next to Hendrix’s grave in Seattle. Later in the film, we hear “May This Be Love” when Steve (Campbell Scott) and Linda (Kyra Sedgewick) share a moment, nearly kissing thanks to the modal effect of one of Hendrix’s greatest love songs. Rent Singles on AppleTV+.

10 “Voodoo Child (Slight Return)” – Almost Famous (2000)

Hendrix found his way onto another Cameron Crowe film with an epic soundtrack for Almost Famous. This time, his most-licensed song appears in a scene when Stillwater, the movie’s featured, fictional band make their way to a fateful plane ride. While Elton John’s “Tiny Dancer” became the crux of the scene, Hendrix’s music laid the scene’s groundwork.

Why Cameron Crowe Has Kept Hendrix Essential to His Soundtracks

Hendrix has appeared on nearly every one of Cameron Crowe’s soundtracks, important because there is maybe no other director for whom ’60s rock is more essential to the context and narrative of his films. Accordingly, Crowe was reticent to leave the 20th Century’s most influential guitarist off any of his movies’ soundtracks. Stream Almost Famous on FuboTV.

9 “The Star Spangled Banner” – Freedom: Atlanta Pop Festival (2015)

Screen Shot 2024-03-25 at 11.37.20 AM

Freedom: Atlanta Pop Festival was revelatory in so many ways, as the footage of the Atlanta Pop concert sat undeveloped in an attic for decades. When it was unearthed, Hendrix fans were treated to one of his little-known, but best documented performances via a Showtime talking heads documentary. After the key players provide context, we get Jimi’s full set at Atlanta Pop, with a unique backing band including Billy Cox on bass, who’s interviewed for the film.

Freedom’s Revelations

The concert took over a small Georgia town, much like Woodstock — but was actually a much larger draw. On the evening of the 4th of July, Hendrix took the stage, performing in front of an unprecedented crowd (lit only by the fireworks and the lighters they waved in the air).

But the film’s greatest revelation was Hendrix’s other version of “The Star-Spangled Banner”, which he played to the backdrop of Independence Day fireworks at the show — unlike the sleepy early morning set he played at Woodstock. Freedom: Atlanta Pop Festival is not currently available to stream.

8 “Voodoo Child (Slight Return)” – Under Siege (1992)

Under Siege may have aged into one of the corniest action films of the ’90s, but one could argue that makes the movie’s rewatching experience even better. Peak Steven Seagal met a team of bad guys that could only be described as First Team All-’90s: Tommy Lee Jones (in a bandana, no less!), Colm Meaney, and the inimitable Gary Busey. Did we mention that Hendrix’s “Voodoo Child (Slight Return)” backs the bad guys’ intro scene?

Why Voodoo Child Is so Resonant, Continued

The song was derived from an earlier jam that Hendrix developed with songwriter extraordinaire Steve Winwood, famous for writing “Whiter Shade of Pale.” The song had all the earmarks of Hendrix’s unique playing style, including down-tuning, the “Hendrix chord” and a fuzz tone played through some mighty Marshall amplifiers. Rent Under Siege on AppleTV+.

7 “Voodoo Child (Slight Return)” – In the Name of the Father (1993)

In the Name of the Father was Jim Sheridan’s poem to the Guildford Four, a group of men from Northern Ireland wrongly convicted of bombing pubs during the Troubles. Given the film’s air of rebellion and civil unrest, Jimi Hendrix was a natural selection for the film’s soundtrack, backing a riot scene.

Daniel Day-Lewis Pays Homage to Hendrix in the Scene

During a Belfast riot, Gerry Conlon (Day-Lewis) is mistaken for a sniper when he plays air guitar with a long stick on a rooftop, and is spotted by the British Army. The scene then breaks into a chase, to the backing of “Voodoo Child (Slight Return),” leading to Conlon’s eventual arrest and imprisonment. Rent In the Name of the Father on AppleTV+.

Related: Daniel Day-Lewis Still Says He’s ‘Done’ with Acting & Criticizes Streaming

6 “Purple Haze” – Apollo 13 (1995)

Apollo 13

Release Date
June 30, 1995

140 Minutes

Main Genre

Apollo 13 followed the harrowing NASA mission around the Moon, which saw Apollo astronauts suffer mechanical failures that led to a fight for survival. Director Ron Howard and producer Bran Grazer procured a period-appropriate soundtrack that was key to the film’s context, including The Who, Jefferson Airplane, and another appearance by Hendrix’s “Purple Haze.”

“Purple Haze” Always Provides Perfect Backing for Tense Scenes

In Apollo 13, Hendrix’s most anxiety-ridden hit backs a scene where Barbara Lovell, astronaut Jim Lovell’s eldest daughter, fights with her mother about watching the broadcast of the Apollo launch. The scene showed the tension for astronaut families surrounding these death-defying early missions into space. Rent Apollo 13 on AppleTV+.

5 “Foxy Lady” – Wayne’s World (1992)

Few dance performances in film history were as sexually arousing as Garth’s Jimi Hendrix jukebox serenade of his dream woman at Stan Makita’s Coffee and Donuts in Wayne’s World. Once Dana Carvey got his hips moving to the sonorous sounds of Jimi’s “Foxy Lady,” the object of his affection, played by ’90s model Donna Dixon, was helpless to his child-like charm.

How Hendrix Completed Yet Another ’90s Soundtrack

The song and soundtrack were another reminder of Hendrix’s influence on ’90s Rock, and echoed the innate sexuality in some of Hendrix’s most-famous songs, albeit comedically in the SNL sketch-turned-hit-movie. A Wayne’s World soundtrack would have seemed incomplete without Hendrix, especially after seeing the object of Wayne’s desire in the film: a 1964 Fender Stratocaster, nicknamed “Excalibur,” similar to the one Jimi wielded at Woodstock. Stream Wayne’s World on FuboTV.

4 “Purple Haze” – White Men Can’t Jump (1992)

White Men Can’t Jump was a cultural and racial landmark in the 1990s, and explored the disparities between Black and White Americans through the prism of Jimi Hendrix’s music. Hendrix’s existence, caught between the racial politics of America and England, was thoroughly examined in John Ridley’s film Jimi: All is By My Side.

Woody and Wesley’s Hendrix Debate

WMCJ has one of its best scenes of dialogue when Syd (Wesley Snipes) questions Billy’s (Woody Harrelson) ability to truly “hear Jimi” — because he’s White. Despite the standout basketball scenes, Ron Shelton’s film excelled thanks to hilarious dialogue between Snipes and Harrelson, as both debate one another and wax poetic. Jimi’s legendary “Purple Haze” backs the scene. Stream White Men Can’t Jump on Max.

3 “If 6 Was 9” – Point Break (1991)

Point Break didn’t include any classic rock on its soundtrack besides Hendrix, using his playful blues track “If 6 Was 9” during a party at Bodhi’s (Patrick Swayze) bank robber hideaway. The track was Hendrix’s “individualist anthem,” with a guitar solo that made use of early stereo panning and effects like slap-echo and heavy reverb.

How “Purple Haze” Came to Define Hendrix’s Unique Tone

These were rudimentary guitar effects, but in Hendrix’s massive hands they became iconic, with virtuoso lead playing that separated him from other contemporaneous rock guitarists. Stream Point Break on Peacock.

2 “If 6 Was 9” – Easy Rider (1969)

Easy Rider was a landmark counterculture film of the 1960’s — encapsulating the hippie movement, chopper culture, and the Civil Cold War that’s been waged by cultures surrounding rock ‘n’ roll since the ’50s. Easy Rider is, in that way, as relevant as ever, depicting the divide between Middle American ideals and the hippie culture that captured young Americans’ imaginations at the dawn of Vietnam.

Why Easy Rider and Hendrix’s Message Was so Important

Easy Rider was the most central film to the “turn on, tune in, drop out” generation of the 1960’s. The legendary Summer of ’69 saw the release of Easy Rider, Hendrix’s incredible performance at Woodstock, and the Manson Family murders, with all three showing an America teetering on the edge of sanity, beset by Vietnam and dowsed in lysergic acid diethylamide. Rent Easy Rider on AppleTV+.

1 “All Along the Watchtower” – Forrest Gump (1994)

Forrest Gump

Forrest Gump

Release Date
July 6, 1994

Robert Zemeckis


Robert Zemeckis went full bore for Forrest Gump‘s soundtrack, including an astonishing array of Vietnam-immediate artists, including The Doors, Bob Dylan, Creedence Clearwater Revival, and James Marshall Hendrix. Hendrix got top-billing for his inclusion in the scene where Forrest goes HAM on White Panther Wesley after the Napoleonic needlenose strikes Jenny.

Life Lessons From Forrest and Jimi

The scene is a lesson in Forrest’s otherworldly strength, which helped him secure a College Football National Championship for Bear Bryant, Gold Medals for his Table Tennis mastery, and War Medals that would make Sgt. John Basilone blush. But the tone set by Hendrix’s most-tragic track frames this dramatic scene in an especially-cinematic light, when we see the lengths that Forrest will go to to protect Jenny. Stream Forrest Gump on Prime Video.

Source link

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Related Posts


Get our latest downloads and information first.
Complete the form below to subscribe to our weekly newsletter.

No, thank you. I do not want.
100% secure your website.