His first Strat, in particular, has up to this point had a mysterious origin story, with even lengthy investigations into its provenance unable to come up with any conclusive evidence as to where it came from.
Now though, we may just have finally received our answer to the mystery, from Jeff "Skunk" Baxter.
In a newly-published interview with Guitar Player (opens in new tab), the Steely Dan and Doobie Brothers guitarist said that he gave Hendrix – who then was going by the name Jimmy James – that crucial first Strat while employed at Jimmy’s Music Shop in New York City.
"This was at Jimmy’s Music Shop," Baxter explained (opens in new tab). "A gentleman came in with a beat-up Fender Duo-Sonic. He wanted to upgrade the instrument or get a nicer guitar. I had already customized a Fender Stratocaster for a left-handed player who wanted to play righty; I made some changes to the vibrato arm and a few other small things. But the guy never showed up, so I just traded Jimmy James the Strat for the Duo-Sonic.
"I got in trouble with Frank, one of my bosses," Baxter continiued. "He said, 'What the hell was that?' I said, 'Well, he seemed like a nice guy.' And for that, I was docked two weeks’ pay. One day after that, Jimmy James came back to the store and invited me to come down to a club to see him play."
Baxter went on to describe his relationship with Hendrix, and how, on one fateful evening, he ended up onstage with him.
"One night his bass player was late, so I got a chance to play a couple of tunes with him," Baxter said (opens in new tab). "We became friends – not deep, deep friends, but friends enough.
"We had some interesting conversations from then on. He was very kind and complimented my playing. Of course I loved his playing. I was just such a fan of Curtis Mayfield and Little Beaver [Willie Hale], and I could see how they influenced him. We had that in common."
To read the full interview with Baxter – which also covers his time with Steely Dan and the Doobie Brothers, and his eclectic debut solo album – pick up a copy of the latest issue of Guitar Player at Magazines Direct (opens in new tab).