DescriptionJimi Hendrix Owned and Played 1963 White Fender Stratocaster Guitar -- One of Jimi's First Strats! Leonidas Clarence (Leo) Fender was, in technical jargon, a luthier, which is from the French and means "a craftsman who makes stringed instruments." To the musical instrument business, he was a Henry Ford- his method of building the guitar's neck and body separately and then bolting them together revolutionized the industry. It made the electric guitar more repairable and affordable to scores of struggling guitarists. To millions of musicians and music lovers, Leo Fender was an absolute genius- not only did he invent the electric bass in 1951 but, just three years later, he introduced a guitar called the Stratocaster. A model that has transcended being just a guitar, the "Strat" is a rock and roll symbol, a pop culture icon and certainly the most recognizable musical instrument on the face of the planet. On January 3, 1965, Leo Fender sold his company to CBS for a reported $13 million. CBS implemented mass production techniques and changes that would negatively impact the quality of the instruments produced. Before that, though, one particular Stratocaster rolled off the assembly line in late 1963- destined to be owned and treasured by the greatest rock guitarist of all time -- a man that, in four short years of international fame, did more to advance the art of the electric rock guitar than full lifetimes of those who preceded and succeeded him. That man's name was Jimi Hendrix.
Discharged from the Army after breaking an ankle in 1962, Hendrix, the young Seattle-born guitarist with the stage name of Jimmy James returned to his first love, the guitar. He played as a sideman for various bands on the "Chitlin' Circuit" before starting to work as a session and touring guitarist for such top acts as the Isley Brothers, Sam Cooke, Ike & Tina Turner, King Curtis and Little Richard. In 1964 he started his own band, Jimmy James and the Blue Flames and by 1965, he was in New York City, gigging at various Greenwich Village clubs and playing sessions. On July 27th of that year, Hendrix (still known as Jimmy James) was signed to his first "exclusive recording artist contract" by Henry "Juggy" Murray Jr at Sue Records in New York. Murray had seen Hendrix perform with the Isley Brothers at a small Harlem club and knew that his talent was something special. Skip Juried was the chief engineer at Juggy Sound Studios and was friends with Jimi from the very beginning. Hendrix had a special Strat, likely purchased in 1964, that was kept for him at the studios. It was a right-handed model in Olympic White with a serial number of L14985, made in December 1963. The neck shows a manufacturer's date code of 2 NOV 63, is the standard "B" size and has a rosewood fingerboard. Fender collectors know that even a few months before CBS took over Fender in 1965, instrument quality was already on the way down. Maybe that's one reason that this beautiful pre-CBS '63 Strat was so special to Jimi. Legend has it that he would often take this guitar to play at the Cafe Wha?, the Cafe Au Go Go and other Village clubs in 1965 and 1966. This was the time period when Hendrix started to sing on stage -- his style reflecting not only the blues, jazz and R&B he grew up with but also the newer sounds -- Bob Dylan and British Invasion groups. One could speculate that Hendrix might have played this guitar the night Animals' bass player Chas Chandler "discovered" him and started him on his way to superstardom as leader of a group called the Jimi Hendrix Experience. The rest, as they say, is history.
Later, after three years of the Experience's worldwide fame, Jimi returned to Juggy Sound in January and February of 1970 to mix and craft a live album for his new group, Band of Gypsies. Hendrix specifically wanted to work on it there -- he was tired of the Record Plant and appreciated the fact that Juggy Sound, though the proud new owner of a sixteen-track machine, was still basically a funky old R&B studio. After completion of Band of Gypsies, on March 23, 1970, Hendrix joined his former Experience bassist, Noel Redding, to record a track for Redding's (never released) solo album titled "My Friend." Old friend Skip Juried was the engineer on this project. It was after these sessions that Hendrix gave this white Strat to Skip for his help and friendship through the years. Juried died in 1988 after a long and prosperous career and this fabulous guitar given to him by the world's greatest guitarist was passed down to a young relative, the present consignor. Included with this lot is a notarized statement signed earlier this year by Leon Hendrix (Jimi's brother) and the current owner attesting to the fact that this Strat was owned and played by Jimi Hendrix. We have had several experts examine this guitar and they have determined that it was definitely played by a left-handed guitarist -- note the cutaway where Jimi's left pinky ring has chipped the paint. The right-handed strap nut seemed problematic at first but many photos have been found of Hendrix playing a right-handed guitar left-handed with the strap hooked on the lower cutaway! Also, many pictures of Hendrix in the studio show him playing in a seated position.
To a guitar collector, any 1963 Fender Stratocaster in this condition would be a great find. To this aging cataloguer who still remembers the first time he heard "Purple Haze" on the radio (and is playing the Smash Hits CD right now on his computer), just handling (very carefully, of course) and researching this guitar has been a major thrill. Heritage Galleries is proud to offer a rare opportunity for some lucky bidder to actually own and play this fully original and fabulous-sounding white Strat previously owned and played by Jimi Hendrix. The "Holy Grail" of guitars can be yours!
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