Jimi Hendrix’s 1957 Supro Ozark 1560s

Jimi Hendrix’s first electric guitar is a subject of much debate among music historians and enthusiasts.

According to some sources, Jimi’s first electric guitar was a Supro that he received from his father, who reportedly bought it in the Myers Music Shop in Seattle in 1959 for $89 [Hendrix Gear, by Michael Heatley]. However, other sources dispute this claim, stating that the story is actually connected to Jimi’s second electric guitar, a Danelectro [Becoming Jimi Hendrix, Steven Rody].

Despite the confusion around his first electric guitar, it is widely believed that Jimi played the Supro with his band, The Rocking Kings, circa 1959. The guitar was reportedly stolen from the bandstand at The Birdland Club in 1960.

Young Jimi Hendrix playing his white Supro Ozark guitar.
Young Jimi Hendrix playing his white Supro Ozark guitar.

The Guitar

Jimi Hendrix’s first electric guitar, a Valco-made instrument, is shrouded in mystery. Very little is known about its history, making it one of the more obscure models associated with the legendary musician.

Valco was a company that produced guitars sold under various brands, including Airline, Oahu, and National. Jimi’s particular model was a simple guitar with a white finish and a single pickup placed in the bridge position.

Despite the lack of information available about the guitar, there are resources available for those interested in learning more. One such resource is a YouTube video that showcases a restoration of a guitar identical to Jimi’s. This video provides a detailed look at the guitar’s inner workings and is highly recommended for anyone curious about the instrument.

Spanish Castle Magic

Did you know that Jimi Hendrix used to hang out at a place called The Spanish Castle when he owned his first guitar? This ballroom in Seattle was a popular spot for young musicians to gather and play music in the late 1950s and early 1960s.

Years later, in 1967, Jimi wrote a song called Spanish Castle Magic, reminiscing about the old days and his experiences trying to get gigs with different bands. The song’s lyrics capture the excitement and energy of the Spanish Castle and pay tribute to the many talented musicians who played there.

Sadly, by the time Jimi wrote Spanish Castle Magic, the ballroom had already been closed for several years. It was eventually demolished in April 1968. However, the memories and experiences that Jimi had at the Spanish Castle clearly left a lasting impression on him and inspired some of his most iconic music.

Once you know the legend of the Wailers at the Castle and the facts of Jimi’s attendance there, the lyrics of his ‘Spanish Castle Magic’ seem haunted by homesick nostalgia. ‘It’s very far away, it takes about half a day/to get there by my ah…dragonfly,’ he sings, in the voice of a kid stranded a couple of continents from home

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J.D. Bell
J.D. Bell
1 year ago

However, there is no known reference to Jimi Hendrix ever actually gigging at the Spanish Castle….Jerry Miller, who did gig there a lot (with the Dynamics–a legendary NW Rock band in the late 50s and early 60s). tells a story about Hendrix, hanging around the stage, asking to jam between their sets!…and the late, great NW DJ Pat-O’Day, also mentions Jimi hanging around the Castle…but no, he never was allowed to jam as part of any group, onstage there.