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The Jimi Hendrix Portfolio

Hendrix at the Warwick Hotel, 1967

Copyright David Sygall, All Rights Reserved

"It was the summer of 1967.

I was taking a course at the New York Institute of Photography.  Some other students came back to the photography school and said that they had just sold prints of photos they had shot the previous day to the Monkees, for $25 apiece, which seemed like a huge sum to me.  I went to the Warwick hotel where the Monkees were staying.  A photographer named Henry Diltz got me past the lobby and up to the Monkeesí penthouse suite. After I finished there, I was kind of wandering the hallways of the hotel and met Henry again, he tipped me off that there was this fantastic new black artist who was the opening act for the Monkees, named Jimi Hendrix.  I walked into his room, which was tiny compared to the big suite for the Monkees, and there was Jimi Hendrix dressed in various shades of purple. He had a girlfriend wearing a tight skirt, a bleached blonde beauty.  They were pretty much rolling around on the bed, and so in the first few minutes after we met, I found myself photographing Hendrix making out with a groupie.  Over the several years we worked together, I actually photographed him together with a number of women.  He and they were strangely casual about letting me into those intimate moments.  Of course that was the late 1960ís and free love was a very real, very hip thing.

Jimi was a very open friendly and giving guy.  For instance during that first shoot up in his room, he asked me if I was hungry.  At the time hamburgers went for $0.75.  He ordered me a $5.00 room service hamburger, which seemed unbelievable to me, but was typical of the kind of generous and friendly person he was.  As I was getting ready to leave the shoot, he gave me a pair of his boots!  They were suede boots with little frills at the knee.  This was the very first time we had met, and he gave me clothing he had actually worn.  He had performed in Berkeley wearing those boots.  I wore those boots whenever I was developing pictures of Hendrix in the darkroom for years."

 

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