Jimi Hendrix’s PR Reveals Truth About First Guitar Burning

Associate exclusively reveals all to Uncut about the guitarist's famous pyrotechnics

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Jimi Hendrix‘s former press officer Tony Garland has spoken exclusively to Uncut about the day when the star burnt his first electric guitar.

Garland witnessed Hendrix set fire to the instrument – a stage trick later used to iconic effect at the Monterey Pop Festival later that year – at London‘s Finsbury Park Astoria in 1967.

“It was at the start of a tour that was headed by the Walker Brothers and Engelbert Humperdinck,” says Garland. “They were all very unlikely bedfellows. It was the opening night of the tour. Nothing out of the ordinary – except for the burning of the guitar.”

The guitar, which has since been found and restored, comes up for auction on September 4 at the Idea Generation Gallery in London, where it is expected to fetch over a million dollars.

Garland, who handled PR for Hendrix before the responsibilities passed to legendary Sinatra/Stones publicity man Leslie Perrin in 1968, was backstage when the idea to burn the guitar was hatched by Hendrix‘s manager Chas Chandler.

“It was my job to do what Chas told me to do,” says Garland. “They said they were going to burn it – so I nipped round the corner to buy some Ronson lighter fuel. It sounds ludicrous – but they were fairly ludicrous days. Things were done on the spur of the moment. We did lots of crazy things back then.”

The Jimi Hendrix Experience, remembers Garland, made quite an impression, even before Hendrix burned his Fender Stratocaster: “It was pretty loud. It was three blokes making the kind of noise that even big bands hadn’t made before.”

Read more about The Jimi Hendrix Experience, and the band’s 1968 tour of the United States, in the October issue of UNCUT magazine, on sale now.

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