Jeff “Skunk” Baxter gave Jimi Hendrix his first Fender Stratocaster

Jimi Hendrix’s Stratocasters – where they came from and where they went after the legendary electric guitarist’s death – have long been legendary.

His early Strat, in particular, has so far had a mysterious origin story, with even lengthy provenance investigations failing to provide conclusive evidence as to its origin.

Now, however, we may have just finally received our answer to the mystery, from Jeff “Skunk” Baxter.

In a recently published interview with Guitarist (opens in a new tab)the Steely Dan and Doobie Brothers guitarist said he gave Hendrix – then called Jimmy James – that crucial first Strat while employed at Jimmy’s Music Shop in New York.

“It was at Jimmy’s Music Shop,” Baxter explained (opens in a new tab). “A gentleman came in with a run-down Fender Duo-Sonic. He wanted to improve the instrument or get a nicer guitar. I had already customized a Fender Stratocaster for a left-handed player who wanted to play right; I made some changes to the tremolo arm and a few other little things. But the guy never showed up, so I just swapped the Jimmy James Strat for the Duo-Sonic.

“I got in trouble with Frank, one of my bosses,” Baxter continued. “He said, ‘What was that?’ I said, ‘Well, he seemed like a nice guy.’ And for that, I was deprived of two weeks’ salary. One day after that, Jimmy James came back to the store and invited me to go down to a club to see him play.

Baxter went on to describe his relationship with Hendrix and how, one fateful evening, he found himself on stage with him.

“One night his bassist was late, so I got a chance to play a few tunes with him,” Baxter said. (opens in a new tab). “We became friends – not deep friends, but quite friends.

“We had some great conversations from then on. He was very nice and complimented my game. Of course, I loved his game. I was 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 Baxter’s full interview – which also covers his time with Steely Dan and the Doobie Brothers, and his eclectic solo debut album – pick up a copy of the latest issue of Guitarist at Magazine Direct (opens in a new tab).

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