Jimi Hendrix’s collection of Fender Stratocasters is the stuff of music legend. They were, after all, the electric guitars that Hendrix used to create history and shape the direction of guitar music as we know it today.
Given the role they played, it’s slightly surprising that the location of some of these Strats remains a mystery, and though Guitarist recently made an effort to track down the surviving six-strings, many of them remain elusive.
Fortunately, some of Hendrix’s old Strats are well accounted for, and as Fred Tackett recently revealed, Little Feat ended up in possession of not one, but two of Jimi’s black Stratocasters.
Speaking to Premier Guitar, Tackett recalled how the initial Strat entered the Little Feat family when he embarked on acquiring his first Fender double-cut, only for the second one to follow suit around three decades later.
He reflected, “My wife went into a Guitar Center and said, ‘Give me a used Strat.’ At this time, Jimi Hendrix was still alive, and they go, ‘Here’s one of Jimi’s.’ It’s something they gave him and he’s messed around with it.
“And it turned out whoever worked for [Hendrix] had gone in and rewired and done all kinds of crazy stuff to it,” Tackett went on. “I sent it to James Burton. James Burton said, ‘I know this guy that worked with Fender that will straighten that guitar all out.’
“I brought it over to the guy’s house, and as a joke when I left I said, ‘Hey, be careful with this guitar because it used to belong to Jimi Hendrix.’ We were laughing about it because I didn’t ever really think it was true.”
However, it was true, and the Fender repair man confirmed as much when he went to refinish the guitar – a process that revealed some left-hand-oriented strap button holes where Hendrix had flipped the Strat upside-down.
That then paved the way for the mystery of a second identical Strat, as Tackett elaborated: “He said, ‘We made two black guitars for Jimi Hendrix. We know what happened to one of them, we don’t know what happened to the other one.’ I go, ‘That’s great,’ and we go on through life.”
So, that’s how Tackett took possession of the first black Strat, but how did Little Feat become the home of the second? Well, as the multi-instrumentalist goes on to explain, that’s something of an almighty coincidence.
“Scott Sharrard comes into the band and I tell him that story, and Scott says, ‘I’ve got the other one,’” Tackett added. “30 years later, Scott’s going, ‘I’ve got the other black Strat that Jimi had.’ Now we’re in the same band with the two black Strats. It’s insane that would happen. Who would ever think?”
Unlike Tackett’s Strat, Sharrad’s came in pieces, and had to be reassembled before it could become a mainstay in the Litte Feat axe arsenal.
Little Feat weren’t the only ones to play black Strats that had been graced by Hendrix. Earlier this year, Vito Bratta recalled how he too got his hands on a black Strat – which had been gifted by Hendrix to keyboardist Al Kooper – to record White Lion’s All You Need is Rock ‘n’ Roll.
Strats played an important role in Little Feat, and as Tackett explained during his Premier Guitar conversation, Lowell George – the overlooked guitar genius whose songs were covered by Van Halen and Eric Clapton – was also fond of the Fender model.
“I’ve had these guitars forever,” he mused. “To me, it’s perfect. Lowell was always a Stratocaster guy, I was always a Stratocaster guy. [It was] Part of the Little Feat thing.”