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A timely investment

Guitar World is celebrating the 70th anniversary of Fender Stratocaster with an anecdote of how Blackmore bought his first one from an Eric Clapton’s roadie:

I was in Deep Purple in 1969, and I was living in Acton, London. We were all in the same house, the whole band, and Eric Clapton’s roadie came by the house because he knew one of my roadies, and he brought a Strat with him.

I think it was black. So I said to him, ‘Do you want to sell that guitar? It looks interesting, and I wanted to try out a Strat.’ He said, ‘I’ll sell it to you for ÂŁ60.’ I said, ‘Okay, you’re on.’ So, for ÂŁ60, I bought one of Eric Clapton’s old Strats that he obviously didn’t want because he gave it to the roadie.

That guitar was used to record Emmaretta, but was retired shortly after because of a bowed neck.

Thanks to Guitar World for the info.

4 Comments to “A timely investment”:

  1. 1
    Uwe Hornung says:

    Nick Simper has some info on his site about that Strat thhat ties right in:


    “Following the Factory debacle we had four days off (Uwe: in L.A.). On the first day I visited the local music store, a large shop stocked with hundreds of guitars. The friendly owner approached me and asked if I could would consider taping an endorsement of his store to play on local radio. In return he would allow me to pick any guitar as a fee. After speaking the necessary words onto his tape machine I left the shop being a proud owner of a brand-new black Fender Precision bass guitar, complete with case. I returned to our motel to find Mick Taylor and the rest of Deep Purple sitting around the pool. After showing them the bass and recounting the details, it was not long before Richie Blackmore grabbed a roadie and headed for the shop. Much to Richie’s disgust the owner explained that he had no plans for more advertisements, leaving Richie wishing that he’d got there before I did.

    Now, it just so happened that during the week I was visited by my friend Bob Lefevre of Sunn amplification. Bob was carrying a Fender Stratocaster guitar which had been given to him by Jimi Hendrix on tour. He explained that Jimi was not happy with the guitar. Bob could not play himself and so he gave it to me. I soon realised that it was not as good as my own Stratocaster which I tinkered with back home. Now it also happened that Richie was not happy with his current guitar, a hybrid Stratocaster with an ill-fitting Telecaster neck. Now this guitar, which refused to stay in tune, had previously been owned by Eric Clapton. I soon had a brain wave! Why, I suggested to Blackmore, didn’t he take these two below par guitars to the guitar store and try to swap them for a new model? Well, that’s exactly what he did, returning with a brand-new Stratocaster and a big smile on his face! The other two guitars just disappeared into the mists of time. Just imagine their value today had we kept them!”

  2. 2
    Gregster says:


    Long live Leo’s beloved Stratocasters, by-far the most versatile guitars in the business, & by-far the most copied too. Not to mention arguably the best sounding guitars available…

    And Freddie Tavares deserves mention also, for designing that gorgeous CBS era large headstock design..Stunningly beautiful addendum to perfect the already great guitar.

    Thanks Jimi (& Eric) for making them popular !

    Peace !

  3. 3
    Coronarias says:

    “Retired”??? Or smashed to many pieces during an energetic performance? I don’t believe there was a genteel retirement home for surplus irrepairable Strats at that time……

  4. 4
    Gregster says:


    Quite a lot of guitars were made into “No.1’s” by part swapping…Essentially, preferred necks were swapped into better-matching or colour preferred bodies, to make that more personalized & special guitar.

    Leo’s factory team were pretty-good at making them, where-by each employee effectively became a quality-control-inspector, & would reject flawed workmanship & return it for reworking each step of the way. But there was also variances in neck thickness & body-contour depths, since each piece was essentially hand-made. In today’s world, CNC machining ensure exacting standards & sizing to all parts & electronic components.

    Inevitably the old guitars ( aka vintage ) return extraordinary asking prices, especially the one’s made prior to 1971 where Leo was still working at the factory as a CBS employee…And the ones made prior to 1965 fetch even more, when Leo still ran things…

    As the corporate CBS had people inventing ways to maximise profit, the quality of the instruments apparently varied through the 1970’s, but new owners took over in 1985, & the instruments made have never been better since. And every US-of-A guitar maker suffered quality control problems through the 1970’s, due to demand exceeding supply, which is why Leo sold-out in the first place. Once again, thank-you Jimi !

    Peace !

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