Jimi Hendrix’s 1964 Fender Stratocaster (Linda)
Based on the photos and the stories from various people, Hendrix only carried one single guitar with him on the plane to the UK in September 1966. Since he didn’t make a work permit ahead of time, it is suspected that someone else (perhaps Chas Chandler) carried the guitar for him.
By all accounts, it seems that the guitar that Jimi carried with him was a 1964 Fender Stratocaster finished in Olympic White. You can read what we’ve gathered about this guitar below.
Keith Richard’s Guitar?
According to Linda Keith, she borrowed this guitar from Keith Richards and gave it to Jimi. She does not mention however whether the guitar was later returned or not. 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 that 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, who became Jimi’s girlfriend after his arrival to London, mentioned in her book Through Gypsy Eyes an anecdote about this guitar that might help clear things up.
Kathy and Jimi were staying in a hotel when Linda walked into their room, grabbed the guitar, and left. Fortunately, the next day Jimi ended up smoothing the things out with Linda and somehow he got the guitar back. He told Kathy that Linda had bought the guitar for him, but some suspected 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
Given that this is the only guitar that Jimi carried with him to London, he likely used to for all the early gigs and stand-ins with other bands.
He was also seen using it during the short French Tour that lasted from October 13 to October 18, 1966. The four shows played were the first official gigs of the newly formed The Jimi Hendrix Experience. For now, we, unfortunately, can’t feature any photos until we establish who owns the rights to them.
On October 23rd, the trio recorded “Hey Joe” at London’s DeLane Lea Studios. [Jimi Hendrix in London, 1966 – Jas Obrecht Music Archive] Jimi was most likely using this exact guitar for the recording.
Following this, the guitar was seen at the Big Apple Club in Germany gig in early November, Bag O’ Nails pub in London later that same month, and both of the band’s TV appearances in December 1966. To remind you, the Jimi Hendrix Experience recorded a tape for Ready Steady Go TV show on the 13th and Top Of The Pops on the 29th. [JIMI HENDRIX TIMELINE, September 1966 – September 1970]
Given that the songs “Foxy Lady”, “Can You See Me”, “Love Or Confusion”, “3rd Stone From The Sun”, and “Red House”, were all recorded right after the Ready Steady Go gig on the 13th, it is most likely that this white Stratocaster was used for all of them. That alone makes this perhaps one of the most important and most significant guitars that Jimi have ever owned.
Vanishing of the white Strat
By March 1967 this guitar was nowhere to be seen. By that time Jimi had made a switch to a sunburst early 60s Stratocaster instead.
The white guitar was last seen on the February 22nd, 1967, at The Roundhouse, London. For most of the gig, Jimi played on the sunburst Strat, but on a few of the photos, the white Strat was seen sitting in the background. Photos can be seen over at Roundhouse website [In Picutres: Jimi Hendrix in 1967 – Roundhouse.co.uk]
According to the story shared on the Roundhouse website, one of Jimi’s guitar was stolen after the concert. Based on the fact that from then on he continued using the sunburst, while the white Strat basically disappeared, we assume that this was the cause of it.
So as it appears, the white Fender Stratocaster – the only guitar that Jimi had with him when he moved to London, was stolen from him in February 1967. As far as we know, the guitar never resurfaced again.