A MUSICIAN who “jammed” with Jimi Hendrix on the night the rock star’s guitar was stolen has told how he later bought the missing instrument for £20.
Tony Carrington, who grew up in Darlington but now lives in Middlesbrough, described the black Fender Stratocaster as “horrible” and said it did not even play that well.
The whereabouts of the guitar – and who took it – has become the stuff of myth and legend since it was stolen following a gig in Darlington on February 2, 1967.
Hendrix – who by then had claimed his first top ten hit Hey Joe – played in front of 200 fans at the Blue Pad nightclub at the Imperial Hotel, in Grange Road, known locally as the Imp.
Following the concert, it was discovered that one of two, or possibly three, guitars used on the night, had gone missing.
Various tales abound of how it was stolen – from the stage by a fan, or disappearing from a kitchen courtesy of a “dumb waiter”, or being whisked down a fire escape.
The legend of the missing guitar has endured and only this month a Darlingtonbased Hendrix tribute band, Sundance, launched an “amnesty” in the hope that whoever owns it will come forward so it can be returned to the late rocker’s family.
Mr Carrington, who was a one-time lead guitarist with the Vipers, later to become Jimmy Williams and the West Coast Promotion, said he was among those present on the night of the Hendrix gig and met him in the downstairs bar, the Bolivar, now Joe’s Bar.
He said: “We ran the club and we were downstairs drinking after the gig when one of the roadies came in and said one of his [Hendrix] guitars was missing.
“Hendrix didn’t seem that bothered. He was concerned about his white guitar, which was the best one.
“But it was his black one that had gone, and this was the one that was more or less used for show, to bang around the mic stand and the amps.”
Some time later Mr Carrington said he was approached at another gig and offered the black Fender Stratocaster, which had now been resprayed red.
He paid £20 for it, selling it later for “between £20 and £30”.
He said: “The guy who I had got it off admitted he had got it off someone who had ‘acquired’ it from Hendrix. I only had it a couple of months and then sold it onto another guy. It ended up with someone living in Shildon or Bishop Auckland, I think.”
Mr Carrington said he was not particularly impressed with the guitar. He said: “It was horrible. It had been used and abused and was not in a pristine condition. It could well have been the guitar that Hendrix knocked about. It did not even sound good. It was a dog as guitars go.”
Mr Carrington, who now runs the Middlesbrough Music Centre shop, in the town’s Newport Road, said he remembered “jamming” with Hendrix after the Darlington gig.
He said: “We had a little tete-a-tete after the gig, a little jam, but he was 10,000 miles ahead of the rest of us in the way he played the guitar.
“I remember he was in awe of [Eric] Clapton and was very lucid. He was not drugged up at that particular time.”
He added that he wished he had hung onto the star’s guitar, but had no idea where it was now.
He said: “I wish I still bloody had it. But in those days there was not the significance about it that there is now.
“With Hendrix being such a superstar, it might fetch about £250,000 now.”