Tuesday, September 18, 2012
Jimi Hendrix's Black Beauty
Jimi Hendrix was born Johnny Allen Hendrix on November 27, 1942, in Seattle, Washington. His named was later legally changed to James Marshall Hendrix in memory of his older brother who died at an earlier age.
For a relatively short period of time, from signing up with Chas Chandler in 1966 until to his untimely demise exactly 42 years ago in September 18, 1970, Hendrix personified the term "guitar hero" and revolutionized guitar playing in a manner that shook the rock world to its foundations.
He has his share of admirers and detractors but there's no denying that people still listen to his music for inspiration, even after his untimely demise. His musical genius was way beyond his time. The showmanship, braggadocio and over-the-top nature of his live performances were unheard of during his era.
As a testament to his talent and influence, Rolling Stone magazine gave him the #1 spot on their list of the Top 100 Greatest Guitarists of All-Time in 2003. Hendrix also was posthumously inducted to the US Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1992, and in the UK Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2002.
Black Beauty is a 1968 Fender Stratocaster with black finish, white pickguard and a maple neck. Its serial number is 222625, the neck is slim and the fretboard is of standard Fender radius of 7". It was one of several Fender Stratocasters that Jimi owned.
What makes it unique is that Black Beauty was actually Jimi Hendrix's favorite guitar, even more so than his other equally legendary guitar, the 1968 Olympic White Fender Stratocaster known as the "Woodstock Strat", which he famously played during the seminal 1969 Woodstock Festival.
Hendrix himself named the guitar "Black Beauty".
Hendrix played Black Beauty in several live performances, most notably in the Isle of Wight Pop Festival on August 31, 1970, and was his first choice to pick up whenever he jams with other musicians. Initially though, Jimi was hesitant to play Black Beauty on stage and was instead content to play the guitar during practice. Eventually, he started playing Black Beauty at memorable gigs during the later part of his career. Black Beauty was the last guitar Hendrix was seen to have played during his live concerts prior his untimely demise.
Black Beauty was taken into possession by Jimi's girlfriend Monika Danneman after his demise in Monika's London apartment just 18 days after the historic Isle of Wight Festival. According to her, Jimi had played Black Beauty on the night prior to his death.
The current whereabouts of Black Beauty is subject to speculation.
It is generally believed that the guitar had been in Monika's possession since Jimi's passing, kept unplayed in its case for more than 20 years. But after her death in 1996 via carbon monoxide poisoning, the guitar was said to be passed on to Uli Jon Roth, the former lead guitarist of German rock group The Scorpions. Monika and Uli had been in a relationship after meeting in the mid-1970's, lasting until her death.
Here’s a video of Jimi Hendrix performing an amazing version of "All Along The Watchtower" at the Isle of Wight Festival with Black Beauty, August 31, 1970.