Memphis, TN–The National Museum of African American Music has added to its growing artifact collection a guitar smashed on stage by Jimi Hendrix.
The guitar was gifted to the museum by Memphis resident and photojournalist George Tillman, who was given the guitar by guitarist Larry Lee, famous for his work with Hendrix and Al Green. Lee remembers picking up the destroyed guitar during a performance with Hendrix, who was known for destroying guitars and sound equipment on stage. Only half of the guitar’s body remains, the neck and fret board still intact, with a few broken strings still connected to the headstock.
“Years ago, Larry Lee gifted me this guitar out of the blue, and it’s become one of my most prized possessions,” Tillman said. “But now I’m honored that something that has meant so much to me personally now has the opportunity to inspire others in the National Museum of African American Music.”
“Jimi Hendrix is one of the most important figures in American pop culture, not just American music,” said Dr. Steven Lewis, curator at NMAAM. “This guitar provides a physical reminder of the power of his music, his personality and his brand of self-expression that was as influential in the 1960s as it is today.”
The museum has already collected multiple Hendrix-related artifacts among the 1,200 already collected, including vintage concert materials. Hendrix will be prominently featured in NMAAM’s Crossroads gallery as one of the blues-based guitar masters of the 1960s. NMAAM also plans to feature Hendrix via photographic images prominently placed in gallery and lobby spaces.
The National Museum of African American Music, set to open in late 2019, will be the only museum dedicated solely to preserving African American music traditions and celebrating the influence African Americans have had on music. Based in Nashville, Tenn., the museum will share the story of the American soundtrack by integrating history and interactive technology to bring musical heroes of the past into the present. For more information, visit www.nmaam.org.