The Grail Guitar by Chris Adams
The Search for the 'Purple Haze' Telecaster
JFK, September 23rd 1966; A young musician waits in line for an overnight flight which will take him to London. In one hand he clutches a guitar case; in the other a passport declaring him to be John Allen Hendrix. Somewhere over the Atlantic he decides to change his first name to 'Jimi' - ushering in a career that will ensure immortality long after his premature death. London's West End, February 2nd 1973. A young guitarist walks into a music shop in Shaftesbury Avenue. His band, String Driven Thing, is about to tour with fellow Charisma label artists Genesis and he needs a back-up guitar. Randomly, Chris Adams plucks a white Fender Telecaster from the rack. It looks good and plays well but there's something odd about the instrument's tuning pegs, as though they'd been taken from a left-handed guitar. When he asks the shop assistant why, the man shrugs and says: 'One of Hendrix's roadies brought it in.'
Time passes. Chris Adams - now in his 60's and living back in his native Scotland - mentions the story of how he bought the guitar to a friend. Turning to Google, a website throws up a rumour of a legendary Fender Telecaster, long since disappeared, that Jimi Hendrix used to record 'Purple Haze', incorporating one of the most famous rock guitar riffs of all time. And so begins the search to prove whether the missing Telecaster is the one that Chris Adams owns. The author sets out on a journey that takes in the highs of Hendrix's career and the lows that lesser stars of the '60s and '70s had to contend with. The story weaves in the stories of bands famous and less famous, reflecting on the price of fame and the enduring genius of Jimi Hendrix. Above all, it is a eulogy to a time and place where everything seemed possible and a piece of detective work which, if proven, leads to the Holy Grail of electric guitars.