Kenny Wayne Shepherd to play Jimi Hendrix's Woodstock Stratocaster

Let's see if Kenny Wayne strikes such a rock-star pose when he plays Jimi Hendrix's Woodstock Strat this week
Let's see if Kenny Wayne strikes such a rock-star pose when he plays Jimi Hendrix's Woodstock Strat this week (Image credit: Tim Mosenfelder/Corbis)

Call Kenny Wayne Shepherd one lucky guy. The guitarist will play the very same white Fender Stratocaster that Jimi Hendrix used at Woodstock this coming Wednesday, 10 November, during a taping of a special Hendrix-themed Late Night With Jimmy Fallon Show in New York City.

Hendrix purchased the white Strat in 1968 and played it at numerous concerts, including the 1969 Newport Pop Festival. He also played it at his final show at the Isle of Fehmarn on 6 September 1970.

But the guitar is probably best known to millions as the instrument Hendrix played on the morning of 18 August 1969 at the Woodstock Festival. It's the same guitar on which Hendrix played The Star Spangled Banner, the recording of which was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 2009.

The guitar was acquired by Experience Music Project (EMP) in 1992 and has been in the Seattle-based museum's permanent collection since that time. EMP has consented to bring the guitar to New York, accompanied by two curators, in support of Experience Hendrix's continuing efforts to bring the music of the late guitarist to successive generations.

Shortly after Shepherd plays the guitar during a set with The Roots on the Fallon show, the instrument will be be transported to the Beacon Theatre. There, Shepherd and other performers taking part in the Experience Hendrix tour will play the Strat for the first time in more more than 40 years in front of a live audience.

Jimi Hendrix was left-handed, and because left-handed guitars weren't readily available during his lifetime, he would often play right-handed guitars upside down, restringing them to suit his needs. The 'Woodstock Strat' is right-handed model, and Shepherd will play the guitar strung appropriately.

Shepherd, a lifelong Hendrix aficionado, has been an integral part of Experience Hendrix tours. For this Fall 2010 run, the bill also features Steve Vai, Eric Johnson, Susan Tedeschi, Robert Randolph, Jonny Lang, Los Lobos' David Hidalgo and Cesar Rosas, Ernie Isley, Living Colour, Mato Nanji of Indigenous, Chris Layton of Stevie Ray Vaughan And Double Trouble and The Slide Brothers a/k/a Chuck and Darick Campbell of Sacred Steel.

All of whom, no doubt, will be clamoring to get some time with the white Strat.

Joe Bosso

Joe is a freelance journalist who has, over the past few decades, interviewed hundreds of guitarists for Guitar WorldGuitar PlayerMusicRadar and Classic Rock. He is also a former editor of Guitar World, contributing writer for Guitar Aficionado and VP of A&R for Island Records. He’s an enthusiastic guitarist, but he’s nowhere near the likes of the people he interviews. Surprisingly, his skills are more suited to the drums. If you need a drummer for your Beatles tribute band, look him up.