New Airline inspired by the guitar Jimi Hendrix briefly played during his Summer of '66 residency in Greenwich Village, New York.
Completing - hopefully - a piece of the puzzle that was Jimi Hendrix gear over the years, we are happy to announce the new Airline 66 2P "Purple Haze" - inspired by that fateful summer in 1966 when Hendrix briefly played an Airline - inspired by his hero JB Hutto.
1966: The Year That Changed It All
At the beginning of '66, Jimi Hendrix was un unknown, struggling musician. By the end of the year, he was the hottest name in music. In-between, a lot happened... or more precisely, Greenwich Village, in NYC, where Jimi Hendrix first started to build a reputation as an outstanding guitar player.
There, at Cafe Wha?, Hendrix performed - albeit briefly - with a red Airline guitar, inspired by one of his heroes, JB Hutto, who he used to cover (as described in this article). This is an information that was totally obscure until recently, much to our surprise.
A chance encounter between Eastwood Guitars CEO Mike Robison and Hendrix's younger brother Leon, who performs at a Hendrix tribute act, led to the new Airline 66 2P "Purple Haze".
According to Leon Hendrix, Jimi played a red Airline for two weeks in June 1966, when he played an early version of 'Purple Haze' for the first time.
"Jimi was obsessed with JB Hutto at the time, and I remember that's why he got himself a red Airline - the cheapest guitar he could get at that time" Leon told us. "However, Jimi wasn't happy with it at all, as he thought it was pretty much a piece of plastic crap - he ditched it and borrowed a Fender Stratocaster from a local musician."
"He didn't play the Airline for more than 2 weeks. I remember this clearly because I visited him in New York for exactly two weeks, the first time I ever left home. Jimi had just bought the Airline when I arrived, and ditched it shortly before I left. It sounded amazing and Jimi loved the tone - but he simply thought it was almost unplayable.
"But in a way it made him a better player. For some reason, it also had a different gauge of strings, thinner than usual at the top, and that's how he got his unique tone from then on - it was all about the strings. So, in a way, that Airline helped to define Jimi's sound."
Sadly, no photograph or footage of Jimi playing the Airline has ever been found, though since speaking to Leon, we managed to track down other eyewitnesses from that time, who also clearly remember Jimi playing a JB Hutto-style red Airline guitar.
If that red Airline is ever found, it would easily become one of the most collectible guitars... ever. Will this happen, one day? Only time will tell.
The Airline 66 2P Limited-Edition "Purple Haze" Guitar
The new Airline 66 2P Limited-Edition "Purple Haze" is our homage and tribute to Jimi's mysterious Airline, in a new, exclusive color finish and featuring Jimi decals.
This is our second guitar inspired by a rare Hendrix guitar. Not everyone realises Jimi played many other guitars besides the Stratocasters he's more commonly associated with. Jimi started playing a Danelectro while still in the Army, and as a session musician played a Jazzmaster. From 1966 onwards he was more commonly seen with a Strat but also used Telecasters, Gibson SG and Flying V.
Shortly before his death, it is said he took a shining for the Acoustic Black Widow, which became his favourite and inspired our Sidejack Series Black Widow.
The new Airline 66 2P is the new, must-have Airline guitar for the Jimi Hendrix fans out there, with some new features such as pull-push knob for phase invert, and a new pair of Seymour Duncan Custom Vintage '66 Ceramic Single Coil pickups with Reverse staggered pole pieces.
Retail price: $1,599 USD
Available to order from April 15th, Shipping June 2019.