Jimi Hendrix’s 1964 Fender Stratocaster (Linda)
From the available photographs and testimonies of those who were present, it appears that Jimi Hendrix only brought a single guitar with him on his flight to the UK in September 1966. As he had not obtained a work permit in advance, it is believed that someone else, possibly Chas Chandler, brought the guitar on his behalf.
The guitar in question was reportedly a 1964 Fender Stratocaster with an Olympic White finish, which some sources speculate may have originally belonged to another guitar legend.
Keith Richard’s Guitar?
According to Linda Keith, she borrowed this guitar from Keith Richards and gave it to Jimi. She however does not mention whether the guitar was later returned to Keith or not. She only said that she “lent” the guitar, indicating that she expected Jimi to return it.
In the quote below, she also recalls attending a gig of Jimi’s during which he smashed another white Stratocaster. At this time, it is suspected that the Stratocaster was the guitar he received from his girlfriend Carol sometime in early 1966.
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
Kathy Etchingham’s Story
Kathy Etchingham, who became Jimi’s girlfriend after his arrival in London, mentioned in her book Through Gypsy Eyes an anecdote about this guitar that might help clear things up.
According to her story one night, Kathy and Jimi were staying in a hotel when Linda walked into their room, grabbed the white Stratocaster, and left. Fortunately, the next day Jimi ended up smoothing things out with Linda and somehow got the guitar back. He also told Kathy that Linda had bought the guitar for him, but people suspected that it was Keith’s.
There were rumors that it was one of Keith’s guitars which she passed on to him, but Jimi said she had bought the guitar in New York just before he came to London. Now I guess we’ll never know.Through Gypsy Eyes, Kathy Etchingham
So it does seem that even back then there were rumors that this was Keith’s guitar, and Linda’s own story confirms that. Also, Keith Richard himself mentioned this story in his autobiography, although most of what he remembers came from Linda anyways.
In her enthusiasm, during a long evening with Jimi, as she tells it, she gave him a Fender Stratocaster of mine that was in my hotel room. And then, so Linda says, she also picked up a copy of a demo I had of Tim Rose singing a song called “Hey Joe.” And took that round to Roberta Goldstein’s, where Jimi was, and played it to him. This is rock-and-roll history.Keith Richards, James Fox; Life
London and Are You Experienced Studio Sessions
It’s highly probable that this Stratocaster was Jimi’s sole instrument during his early gigs and temporary stints with other bands in London. This was also evident during the short French Tour from October 13 to October 18, 1966, where he was seen using it. Although photos of the tour are unavailable due to copyright, they can be found online with some research.
On October 23rd, Hendrix and his newly formed band, The Jimi Hendrix Experience, recorded their rendition of “Hey Joe” at London’s DeLane Lea Studios, where it’s believed that he used the same guitar.
In subsequent gigs at the Big Apple Club in Germany in early November, the Bag O’ Nails pub in London later that same month, and the band’s TV appearances in December 1966, the same guitar was visible. It’s worth noting that after recording a tape for the Ready Steady Go TV show on the 13th, Hendrix recorded “Foxy Lady”, “Can You See Me”, “Love Or Confusion”, “3rd Stone From The Sun”, and “Red House” in quick succession, likely using the same white Stratocaster.
As a result, this guitar holds immense significance in the history of music and is undoubtedly one of the most critical instruments owned by Hendrix.
Vanishing of the white Strat
By March 1967, Jimi Hendrix had switched to a sunburst early 60s Stratocaster, and the white guitar he had brought with him was nowhere to be seen. The last known appearance of the white Stratocaster was on February 22nd, 1967, during a gig at The Roundhouse in London. Although Jimi primarily played on the sunburst Strat during the concert, the white Strat can be seen in the background of some photos on the Roundhouse website.
According to the Roundhouse website, one of Jimi’s guitars was stolen after the concert. It’s plausible that the white Stratocaster was the stolen guitar as Jimi continued to use the sunburst Stratocaster afterward, while the white Stratocaster disappeared completely.
If that is the case, it appears that Jimi’s only guitar during his initial move to London, the white Fender Stratocaster, was unfortunately stolen from him in February 1967 and has never resurfaced since. The loss of such a significant instrument undoubtedly remains a notable moment in the history of music and the legacy of Jimi Hendrix.
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