Playing New Rising Sun on Jimi's Martin Acoustic Guitar
Playing Jimi's guitar...It's hard to pinpoint the exact date...it was maybe around 1998 /1999, I was at Noel Redding's house just outside Clonakilty, Ireland.
First of all Noel said "I want to show you something" and then he disappeared and came back with a guitar case and opened it and said "this was Jimi's" and I just looked at it in amazement, and then he said "would you like to have a go with it?" and I said "what?", and he said "would you like to play it?" I can't remember my answer to that, I must have said yes, because he handed it to me. I could see it was a Martin and had been strung back to right hand. (My wife Vivien was sitting across the room from me, Noel's mother Margaret was also there). I just felt it, it sounded in tune...and then I started to play New Rising Sun...I don't know why. I finished playing after a few minutes, turned the guitar towards me and looked at it. Noel then said "why did you play that?", and I said "I really don't know", handed it back and said thank you. That was it, he took it away. It was extraordinary because it's not a piece I normally play, and usually when you pick up a guitar like that you just doodle around a little.
I remembered this morning that when I turned the guitar towards me and looked at the neck and the body, and tilting it in the light (the windows were behind me) I noticed that the sweat marks and wear on the fretboard were closest to me around the 12th fret...so that says to me it had been played by a lefthanded guitarist. One person we knew, who had known Noel for some time, said that he NEVER let anyone touch those guitars. He said "I've never known Noel let anyone touch those guitars let alone play them".
I did many gigs with Noel at DeBarras in Clonakilty and he had many musician friends come down to play with him there on a Friday night...a lot of the music he played was Lennon, Beatles and basic 60s and 70s music. I said to him one night, can we play one of Jimi's and he said "if we play one of Jimi's you sing it" and at the time I wasn't singing so it didn't happen. We played one night with John Coughlan on drums (Status Quo). Most of the time Noel played bass, but sometimes he played an acoustic guitar and sang.