A guitar that Jimi Hendrix played in the early Sixties — when the guitar god was an R&B sideman and fledgling rocker based in New York City — sold at auction Saturday for $216,000, nearly four times its pre-auction estimate.
According to GWS Auctions, Hendrix began playing the Japanese sunburst electric guitar after he was discharged from the U.S. Army in 1962. “After leaving Fort Campbell Jimi moved to Clarksville, Tennessee for a short time where he played on the Chitlin’ Circuit with the likes of Wilson Pickett, Slim Harpo, Sam Cooke, Ike and Tina Turner and Jackie Wilson before moving to Harlem, New York in early 1964 where he stayed until late 1966 playing venues such as Cafe Wha and the Cheetah Club,” the auction house stated.
Hendrix remained in possession of the guitar through his brief tenure with the Isley Brothers and his own Jimmy James and the Blue Flames. However, when Hendrix departed for the U.K. to start his Experience, the guitar was left in New York at the apartment of his friend Mike Quashie, who provided a notarized letter of provenance for the instrument prior to his own death.
“This particular guitar sheds light on some of the earliest playing by Jimi Hendrix and is unprecedented as it relates to its historical value. Never before have we acquired a guitar of this magnitude partnered with particularly thorough provenance and value,” Dame Brigitte Kruse of GWS Auctions said in a statement.
The guitar had a pre-auction estimate of $50,000, and reached a high bid of $180,000; when factoring in fees, the total winning bid was $216,000.
Other notable music-related items from GWS Auctions’ Artifacts of Hollywood & Music event Saturday included a 14K gold ring owned by Elvis Presley ($22,500), a pair of Prince’s custom-made purple boots ($13,000) and one of Michael Jackson’s sequined black jackets ($20,000).