Burnt Hendrix guitar to be sold in London

Wed Jul 16, 2008 1:17pm EDT
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LONDON (Reuters) - One of Jimi Hendrix's favorite guitars, set alight on a London stage more than 40 years ago and thought to have been lost forever, is to be auctioned later this year.

The guitar, a 1965 Fender Stratocaster, was famously doused with lighter fuel and set alight by the rock legend during a one-off performance at London's Finsbury Astoria in March 1967.

Hendrix had to be rushed to hospital with minor burns to his hands after the stunt, and the guitar, slightly damaged along the neck and pickboard, was recovered by his staff.

It eventually ended up in the hands of his press officer, Tony Garland, who stored it in his parents' garage, where it remained until it was unearthed last year by Garland's nephew.

The guitar is among a range of rock memorabilia to be auctioned by the Fame Bureau in London on September 4th. It has an estimate of 500,000 pounds ($999,000). Other lots include The Doors frontman Jim Morrison's last notebook of poems.

"When Hendrix set this guitar alight it marked a watershed in live performance," said Ted Owen, director of acquisitions at the auction house.

"He raised the bar of what could be expected and paved the way for a series of imitations and pastiche that exist to this day."

Hendrix, who died in 1970, burnt two guitars on stage -- he repeated the stunt at a festival later in 1967 -- but the one to be auctioned is the only example that survives intact.

A previous auction of a Hendrix guitar, known as the Woodstock Stratocaster, fetched $1.8 million.

(Reporting by Luke Baker; Editing by Paul Casciato)

<p>This file photo shows Jimi Hendrix performing at the Gillmore East. REUTERS/COPYRIGHT AMALIE</p>