Despite the 40th Anniversary of his death, Jimi Hendrix continues to rock the world of collectibles
We talk exclusively to Martin Wyatt, Deputy Director of the "Hendrix in Britain" Exhibition
It's hard to believe that this Saturday, September 18 marks the 40th Anniversary of Jimi Hendrix's death in his Notting Hill flat in London back in 1970.
But while Hendrix may have passed away at the peak of his musical powers, the long term power of Hendrix in the memorabilia market appears to show no signs of peaking just yet.
The demand for Hendrix
memorabilia remains high
In fact, the 40th anniversary of the original guitar hero's death is proving to be something of a celebration for fans of Hendrix and the wealth of collectibles he left behind.
This is no more evident than at the site of his former London address of 23 Brook Street in Mayfair.
That's because the current owners, the Handel House museum, have organised an extra special exhibit in honour of the landmark anniversary.
The Handel House Museum primarily occupies 25 Brook Street in Mayfair, which was the former home of the great baroque composer G F Handel from 1723 until his death in 1759.
In recent years, the museum purchased Hendrix's former flat, using it for administrative offices.
However, to commemorate the anniversary of Hendrix's passing, the museum will be offering fans the chance to take a look round Hendrix's old address, as well as taking in music and memorabilia from the museum tour.
With tickets for the exhibit selling quickly, we caught up with Deputy Director, Martin Wyatt to discuss the continuing appeal of all things Hendrix.
The last decade alone has seen a significant rise in the value of Hendrix collectibles. According to the PFC40 index, which tracks the value of the top 40 most sought after celebrity autographs, Hendrix's signature has increased in value by 397.5%.
For Wyatt though, this can be attributed to a very special kind of nostalgic investment that the guitarist is able to provide for his original fans, many of whom may now be in their late 40s and 50s.
"His extraordinary energy and creativity often had a life changing effect on his audience" Martin explains, "that generation still celebrate his uniqueness in their memories."
This view is certainly backed up by results at auction. Rare live recordings of Hendrix arguably represent the ultimate nostalgic investment for those collectors looking to re-live their memories of the Jimi Hendrix experience.
Back in July 2008, a rare ¼ inch reel-to-reel master soundboard tape recording of Hendrix at the Woburn Music festival in England in 1968, sold for £48,050 ($72,075).
Collectible mementos from his concerts have also proved similarly popular. One poster of the "Jimi Hendrix Experience" at the 1968 Pop festival in Miami, came up for auction in New York in 2007 selling for £12,500 ($18,750) against an estimate of £1,000 ($1,500).
But for Wyatt, Hendrix's continuing popularity also has much to do with his unique style at the time. As Wyatt asserts he remains "instantly recognisable not only for his own physical appearance but also for his fashion choices."
Hendrix's clothes marked him out as a true original that brought a "colourful and flamboyant dress sense to the stage" which Wyatt notes was, historically "at a time when a lot of musicians were still performing in suits and ties."
A New York auction in 2006, saw one collector pay £18,800 ($28,800) for a black leather waistcoat worn by Hendrix on the inside cover of his classic "Are you experienced" LP and in a 1969 issue of Smash Hits magazine. This price was almost three times the pre-auction estimated price.
More recently, a 2008 auction saw a pair of red, blue, green and olive stripe wool-mix trousers which featured on the cover of the single "Burning of The Midnight Lamp" sell for £20,000 ($30,000).
But clothing and concert memorabilia aside, which collectible does Wyatt think is deemed the most important by fans and the best investment for collectors?
"The guitars have become most iconic" says Martin, explaining that, "they can be associated with specific performances that fans remember, especially the burnt and broken ones."
As any Hendrix fan will tell you, gigs would often end with the destruction of instruments. Wyatt is also specifically referencing Hendrix's trademark Fender Stratocaster which was burnt during a live show in North London in 1967.
In 2006, a passionate fan and collector paid £280,000 ($320,000) for the piece in what was a world record price at the time.
Today Hendrix remains a pioneer of the electric guitar, making these rare pieces the ideal "tribute to him both as a man and a musician" in the words of Wyatt.
And it's a testament to Hendrix's music that his popularity has endured 40 years. Ultimately, the prices within the market are underpinned by a collector base which appreciate his work as much now as they did then.
Furthermore, Martin explains that "younger generations who never saw Hendrix live have discovered his music for themselves and keep the memory alive."
2006 saw Hendrix's debut album "Are you experienced" inducted into the National Recording Registry, which recognizes music that is, "culturally, historically, or aesthetically important, and/or inform or reflect life in the United States."
With an enduring popularity to rival the Beatles, Hendrix will continue to shape the sounds and memories of a whole new group of collectors for years to come.
As Wyatt so eloquently puts it "each new generation discovers a Hendrix that is relevant to them"
and with each new generation, the popularity of legend's memorabilia will grow and grow.
Even today, unique and historic pieces from one of music's true originals can be invested in.
One online auction service, recently put Hendrix's earliest known signed recording contract from October 1965, up for auction with estimate of £147,000 ($225,000) attached.
40 years on since his death, there has never been a better time to "experience" investing in the Jimi Hendrix memorabilia market.
Images: Bonhams, Christies