“Jimi once said he’d been imitated so well that people had even copied his mistakes”: Watch Nile Rodgers, Tom Morello, Rebecca Lovell and more celebrate 70 years of the Strat in an all-star cover of Voodoo Child

Nile Rodgers
(Image credit: YouTube / Fender)

Fender’s 70th Anniversary celebrations for the Stratocaster continue with the release of an all-star cover of Jimi Hendrix’s Voodoo Child (Slight Return) featuring a cast of today’s most-famous Strat players.

And appropriately, the video, titled Voodoo Child: Forever Ahead of Its Time, spans generations. One minute you’ve got Nile Rodgers jamming on his Hitmaker Strat, a Texas blues guitar legend in the shape of Jimmie Vaughan, and Tom Morello turning up with his Soul Power Strat and the biggest pedalboard of them all to drop some pitch-shifting into the arrangement. 

The next you’ve got Tash Sultana, Rebecca Lovell and Tyler Bryant. There is even Mateus Asato, who, the last we checked, was not a signature Fender artist. At first we thought the Big F had dropped an Easter egg, but no. It looks like Asato is playing the Jimi Hendrix Stratocaster in Olympic White.

Fender 70th Anniversary Stratocasters

Fender 70th Anniversary Stratocasters (Image credit: Fender)

By the power invested in digital editing suites, Fender duly swaps each player in and out of a stage fringed by a wall of Fender Super Sonic heads and matching cabs. Visually, that setting it looks like a reference to the Jimi Hendrix Experience’s 1970 performances at Maui. And the Strat Asato is playing is based on the one Hendrix used that day.

The rotating cast of Strat players also features Simon Neil of Biffy Clyro, REI and Ari O’Neal. Each of them playing quite different Strats. There are none like Rodgers’ modded Hitmaker. Few have a backstory like Bryant’s battle-scarred “Pinky” Strat, which was stolen and MIA for five-and-a-half years before he was reunited with it.

Janie Hendrix, president and CEO of Experience Hendrix and younger sister to Jimi, says her brother would have got a kick out of the cover. 

“Jimi loved to hear artists play his music,” she said. “In fact he once said he’d been imitated so well that people had even copied his mistakes. Decades later, his music lives on being played by contemporary artists and conceivably will be for generations to come. 

Decades later, Jimi's music lives on being played by contemporary artists and conceivably will be for generations to come

Janie Hendrix

“That really speaks to the impact and relevance of a musician – an incredible musician, who was so far ahead of his time, that his songs will always be the current sound. Timeless. I believe his guitars, like his Stratocaster, helped give him transport.”

Expect more of the same from Fender. Coming soon to the Californian gear giant’s YouTube page and socials will be a series of Strat Sessions, in which musicians discuss their bond with the Strat (and hopefully show us some licks too), and Icons Of The Strat, in which we might well have some more Hendrix-related content to enjoy – not to mention the late Stevie Ray Vaughan, Buddy Holly, Jeff Beck… And so on.

That’s the pop-cultural celebrations. You can bet your bottom dollar there will be more product to follow the quartet of 70th Anniversary Strats already unveiled. For more details on the anniversary models, head over to Fender.

Jonathan Horsley

Jonathan Horsley has been writing about guitars and guitar culture since 2005, playing them since 1990, and regularly contributes to MusicRadar, Total Guitar and Guitar World. He uses Jazz III nylon picks, 10s during the week, 9s at the weekend, and shamefully still struggles with rhythm figure one of Van Halen’s Panama.