Auction News | Music memorabilia

For sale: the first guitar ever played by Jimi Hendrix on British soil


This electric guitar may look a bit battered. And to fair, it is.
But in 1966, this guitar earned its own special footnote in music history – as the first guitar Jimi Hendrix ever played on British soil.

Now the instrument is heading to auction with Gardiner Houlgate, where it’s expected to sell for up to £10,000 as part of a music memorabilia sale on September 14-15.

Jimi Hendrix arrived in the U.K on September 24, 1966, having been spotted playing in New York by Chas Chandler, bass player with The Animals.

Chandler was looking to quit the band and become a manager, and when he saw the unknown Hendrix on stage at the Cafe Wha? In Greenwich Village, he knew he’d found a star.

He flew Hendrix to London, signed him up to a management contract, and then set about finding him a gig for that evening.

Jimi was eager to jam, but he had one major problem – he needed a left-handed guitar.

The pair set off in search of a suitable instrument, and their first stop was the West London flat of Soho blues musician Zoot Money.

Money was a good friend of Chandler’s, having played with The Animals on their final U.S tour, and was a highly respected figure in the London music scene.

However, he didn’t have a left-handed guitar.

Money’s band-mate (and future guitarist with The Police) Andy Summers lived in the flat below, but his instruments were out-of-bounds for the unknown American.

"I couldn’t let him use one of Andy Summers guitars that were in the flat below because he would have killed me!" recalled Money.

As the trio sat in Money’s flat, wondering who to call next, Hendrix picked up a late 1950s Wandre electric guitar that was laying around and started to play.

Jimi liked the easy action of the instrument, and Money offered to restring it in reverse for him to use that night, but he politely refused.

Their search continued across London, and was eventually successful, as Hendrix famously joined the house band at the Scotch of St. James nightclub that evening for his first U.K performance.

And like that, a legend was born.

Briefly touched by genius, the guitar has remained in Money’s collection ever since, and retains the same strings Hendrix casually strummed more than 50 years ago.

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