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"Stepping Stone" is a song by Hendrix Band of Gypsys, which was originally released as a single in the United States backed with "Izabella" on April 8, 1970 – the last single released by Hendrix before his death. A second version is featured on his 1972 third posthumous studio album War Heroes. Written and produced by Hendrix, the song was recorded early in 1970 with the short-lived Band of Gypsys lineup of Hendrix, Billy Cox and Buddy Miles.
"Stepping Stone" first appeared, in part, when Gypsy Sun and Rainbows performed at Woodstock Festival on August 18, 1969, as Hendrix incorporated its rhythm into their long rendition of "Voodoo Child (Slight Return)". The band made an attempt at recording the song (which was then known as "Sky Blues Today") in the studio on August 30, and it was next touched on during a long studio jam session with Buddy Miles on November 14 (see Morning Symphony Ideas). "Stepping Stone" was first played live during the second show at the Fillmore East on December 31, 1969 by the Band of Gypsys, and again during the first show of January 1, 1970. These turned out to be the only live performances of the song.
Into 1970 the band continued work on the song at Record Plant Studios, recording three takes with the name "I'm a Man" on January 7, the third of which provided the basic track with which they would work. They revisited the take on January 20, adding guitar overdubs and renaming it "Sky Blues Today", and another mix was prepared on January 22. More mixing was completed on February 12, and on February 15 the master take, which was later renamed "Stepping Stone" was recorded and subsequently prepared for release with "Izabella". The single, credited to "Hendrix Band of Gypsys" was released on April 8, 1970 by Reprise Records. This single version was later included on the 1984 Hendrix compilation Kiss the Sky and the 2001 Voodoo Child: The Jimi Hendrix Collection compilation.
After the single release "Stepping Stone", Hendrix decided to add to the song. On June 26, 1970, he and Mitch Mitchell, who had rejoined the band, recorded new guitar and drum parts respectively. With these changes, the song was later released on War Heroes in 1972 and First Rays of the New Rising Sun in 1997. With drum overdubs by Bruce Gary in January 1995, it was included on Voodoo Soup.
- Jimi Hendrix — vocals, guitars, production (as Heaven Research Unlimited)
- Billy Cox — bass
- Buddy Miles — drums on Band of Gypsys version
- Mitch Mitchell — drums on War Heroes and First Rays of the New Rising Sun version
- Bruce Gary — drum overdubs on Voodoo Soup version
- Additional personnel
- Bob Hughes — engineering