Thursday, August 22, 2013

"Hey Joe" - The History of a Song

This is a group you probably never heard of doing a song you probably never remember not hearing. The Leaves were one of the hundreds of "one hit wonder" type of bands; although they never had a hit. But they did secure a place in the history of rock and roll when they released this song in 1966. It didn't get much airplay at the time. That's because it wasn't famous yet.

The Leaves picked the song assuming that it had been written by the copyrighted author of record, Dino Valenti. But in reality, Mr. Valenti, who had been in prison serving time for a drug sentence, lifted the words and music from a performance by the real author, Tim Rose, at San Quentin on January 1, 1965. It was about a year later that Mr. Rose was finally informed of this; just before he was about to record his own solo album, which would include his own version of the song.

His friend, Hillel Resner, asked his father, who was an attorney in San Francisco, what could be done about it. Mr. Resner’s father found that Mr. Valenti actually secured a contract with Third Story Music of Los Angeles. They went into immediate negotiations, and though they did recover all the loss up until that date, there are still recordings out there that are credited to Mr. Valenti, or even sometimes a third party. The song was registered for copyright in 1962 by Mr. Rose, although Scottish poet Len Partridge in Edinburgh in the late 1950’s. Some folks even insist that Mr. Rose signed the song over to him in order to help him out, but there is no real evidence of this. Some folks also attribute the song to William "Bobby" Roberts, but again, there is no hard evidence to support this claim.

Until 1964, Mr. Rose had been working with different bands, most notably with The Big Three, a folk group which included Mama Cass Elliott and a guy named James “Jimmie” Hendricks. They had a following in New York’s Greenwich Village before Mr. Rose moved on to the west coast in 1964, where he performed with a group called The Driftwood Singers, based out of San Francisco. This was the move that landed him in front of Dino Valenti in the first place. Talk about coming full circle!.

These are The Leaves, plugging away at the song on some long forgotten TV show in 1966. 

This is Tim Rose from a TV appearance in 1966 doing the song he would put on his first album "Through Rose Colored Glasses" in 1967. That was the version which Keith Richards claims to have "lent" to Linda Keith, a friend, who then took it over to her friend's house and played it for Jimi Hendrix.

And here is Jimi Hendrix in all his glory, doing "Hey Joe" live sometime in 1968, about a year after first hearing the Tim Rose version of the song from Keith Richards friend. It became his first solo recording, and launched his career.


  1. Nope....that's wrong. See this:

    1. The web page you reference is unavailable. Since it is you need to tell me what is incorrect. I will make the changes as appropriate after I can verify what you say to be true. As of now this is the only information I have available to me. Please let me know what is wrong. I pride myself on making corrections when they are needed. Thanks- Robert at RT 8-3-15 11:13AM