No guitarist put the fear of God into his peers like Jimi Hendrix. Born in Seattle in 1942, Hendrix took the instrument of blues greats such as Muddy Waters and rockers like Chuck Berry to unimagined places, employing both the traditional chops of the masters and the feedback of his Marshall amplifiers to startling effect. He was, as they might say in the Silicon Valley today, a disruptive technology, against which all others paled. As a result, even from the beginning of his meteoric but all-too-brief rise to rock stardom, no one wanted to follow Hendrix on stage, not The Who at the Monterey Pop Festival in the summer of 1966 or even the Jefferson Airplane on their home turf, the Fillmore Auditorium, a week or so later. Hendrix set his guitars on fire, figuratively and literally. But by the fall of 1970, at the age of 27, Hendrix was dead of a drug overdose, one of a string of 27-year-old casualties that fall that included Alan Wilson of Canned Heat and the great Janis Joplin.
Collectors of Hendrix memorabilia gravitate not so much to the actual things he owned, wore, or played, but to objects that speak to who he was. For example, the left-handed Hendrix played a right-handed Fender Stratocaster upside down, so vintage a Strat might be on a Hendrix fan’s wish list. Similarly, you might not be able to get your hands on the actual effects pedals Hendrix used, but plugging into an Arbiter Fuzz Face, Vox CryBaby, or Octavio fuzz pedal is probably the next best thing.
Concert posters advertising Jimi Hendrix performances are keenly collected, and usually carry a premium because of the connection they suggest to the artist. Perhaps the most prized Hendrix poster is BG 105, also known as the Flying Eyeball, which was designed by Rick Griffin for Hendrix’s four-night run at San Francisco’s Winterland Arena in 1968. Photographs by the likes of Gered Mankowitz and Baron Wolman bring a pretty penny, which is why most Hendrix collectors concentrate on vinyl records, from 45s of his first hit, “Hey Joe,” to a mono pressing of “Electric Ladyland.”