Billy Cox recalls the fate of Jimi Hendrix’s 1958 Danelectro

The bassist spoke of what happened to one of the legend’s earliest instruments.

Jimi Hendrix in 1961

Jimi Hendrix in 1961

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Jimi Hendrix, alongside his heavy association with Fender Strats, played an eclectic mix of electric guitars. One of the earliest of these was a 1958 Danelectro Shorthorn 3012, which NAMM’s Music History Project podcast has dived into the history of.

Used during his time in the army, the guitar was named Betty Jean – after Hendrix’s girlfriend at the time. Hendrix’s bandmate Billy Cox, who was also in the army with him, revealed that he was told: “‘If you ever found that guitar in Nashville it’d be worth five million dollars.”

“He [Hendrix] had pawned it to the guy who owned the Del Morocco [a Nashville nightclub] for about $150, something like that. And he kept it because Jimi didn’t pay him back.”

The owner then kept it at his house, but unfortunately for any would-be collectors, “about four years later that house burnt down,” as Cox explains. You can listen to the full Music History Project episode about Hendrix below.

The revelation follows the announcement of a new feature-length documentary about Hendrix’s storied visit to Maui, where he played two free sets for inclusion in the ill-fated film Rainbow Bridge.

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