Jimi Hendrix’s 1960s Fender Stratocaster (Carol)
This is likely one of the first, if not the first, Stratocasters that Hendrix ever owned. The history behind this guitar is however far from established.
The Origin Story
In the book “Jimi Hendrix Gear” [p.62], it is noted that Jimi acquired this guitar at Manny’s Music shop in New York, and that his girlfriend at the time, Carol Shiroky, bought it for him. However, in Steven Roby’s book “Becoming Jimi Hendrix”, it is mentioned that Jimi broke the guitar after breaking up with Carol. [p.170]
Both stories are second-hand accounts and cannot be proven at this time. However, it is believed that this guitar was used for a very brief time in New York and was not the one Jimi carried with him to the UK in late 1966.
Linda Keith supplies another white Stratocaster to Hendrix
Interestingly, Linda Keith supplied another white Stratocaster to Hendrix. According to her, she borrowed one of Keith Richard’s guitars to Jimi sometime in 1966 while his own guitar was at a pawn shop. She also notes that Jimi smashed a different guitar during a gig she attended at Cafe Au Go-Go in New York’s Village.
It was the night he smashed up a white guitar, I was beside myself. I’d lent him a guitar belonging to my boyfriend and there he was smashing one up on stage! I was absolutely livid with Jimi because to me that’s the most un-cool thing to do.How I helped to make Jimi Hendrix a rock’n’roll star – The Observer, September 2014
Based on the information presented by Linda, it appears plausible that Jimi Hendrix destroyed his first white Stratocaster during the very performance that Linda Keith attended. Speculatively, having a backup guitar from Linda may have allowed Hendrix to dispose of Carol’s guitar while also creating a memorable scene.
However, it may seem unlikely that Hendrix would destroy a good guitar so early on in his career, especially given the financial constraints at the time. Nevertheless, we can assume that this marked the end of his first white Fender Stratocaster and the start of the second.
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