Wednesday, 15 August 2012

Jimi and the mysterious blonde lady


On the cover of the Summer 2012 issue of Univibes magazine a photo was used of Jimi with a blonde lady who’s brushing Jimi’s hair. The caption reads: ‘Unknown (airport?) hotel, England, 13? October 1967 – photo: P. Popper.’ A very nice new photo, but is the caption correct? Let’s investigate!

In the mean time a set of 10 photos of this shoot has become available from gettyimages.com, who acquired the Popper catalogue. It shows Jimi, Mitch and Noel posing, in what looks like a hotel room, together with the young blonde girl, toying with a painted Flying V Gibson guitar, combing their hair, etc. We see Jimi reading an issue of Mad magazine. If this was available in the UK in 1967 I do not know. But having said that, Mad is an American magazine. We also see a copy of the second lp by The Mothers of Invention: Absolutely Free. That was released on May 26, 1967, so it’s definitely after that date.

If this is a UK or a USA hotel room I could not say at first glance. Don’t they all look the same?

First off: Paul Popper was a Czech photo journalist who owned one of the oldest photo press agencies in the UK. If he actually took the pictures is not certain, it may have been one of his employees. Or, and this is my assumption, the photo was imported from a foreign country. Not unlikely, as Popper ran a photo agency, which used photographs from all over the world.

When I looked at the set of 10 photos from this session, I somehow could not fit them in the period given by Univibes. It somehow did not look like early October to me.

Some of the pictures show Jimi holding a painted Flying V Gibson guitar. October 1967 could have been right. Auction website www.artfact.com has this to say about this guitar:

‘It is likely to have been purchased by Jimi in mid 1967 (he played a similarly decorated Stratocaster at the Saville Theatre, London, 4th June) and Chas Chandler has recalled that Jimi added the distinctive colouring (probably modeller's enamel paints) to the body in his (Chas's) flat.’

It is possible that Jimi bought this guitar before he left for the USA in June, I do not know. What we do know is that Jimi can be seen playing the Flying V for the first time at the Cafe Au Go Go on 23 July. So any photo of Jimi holding that guitar is from that date, and onwards.

Is there really no way to tell in what period this photo was taken? Yes, there is. If we look at Jimi’s jewellery, we see several rings, an amulet necklace, and a white decorated armband. The armband appears for the first time on 25 June at the Golden Gate Park show in San Francisco. Jimi got bored of it pretty soon, as the last time we can see him wear it is on 9 July in Miami during the Monkees tour.

The round amulet necklace can first be seen on 18 June at Monterey during the afternoon sound check. Jimi possibly acquired it after arriving in the USA. By the time the Experience hit Ann Arbor on 15 August, the amulet is gone, and does not reappear.

The combination of the three rings [one on his right hand, two on his left] can also be seen on 5 July at the Central Park show in New York. [Please keep this in mind, as we struggle along].

Jimi is wearing a satin purple shirt. I may be terribly wrong here, but I’ll bet you it’s the same satin shirt he’s wearing at the Central Park show [no color pics available]. Please note also that in one of the photos Jimi is wearing the Monterey boa around his shoulders.

Now for the tasty blonde girl. Where have I seen a girl like her before? David Sygall took pictures of Jimi kissing a blonde girl at the Warwick Hotel in New York in July 1967. Surpise: it’s the same girl! She even wears the same white suit as on the Popper photos! According to Niko Bauer’s excellent website, her name is Roselyn Morris. Photos taken on 17 July at Studio 76 of Jimi recording with Curtis Knight show her again.

With all this evidence at hand my conclusion is:

the photos of the Experience with the blonde girl were not taken in October 1967
since the girl appears in photos taken in New York, we can safely assume the photos were taken in there
if we narrow down the various date possibilities, the photos were taken during the first week of July 1967, between 3 and 7 July.

Since we have a unique combination of the shirt, the round amulet, the 3 rings, it is even possible the photos were taken on the afternoon of 5 July, just before the Central Park concert, although I do not have a smoking gun proof for this. But I think I’m not very wrong in saying that these photos were taken on or around that date.

With thanks to Robert Elliott for providing the Flying V info.

Sources:

4 comments:

  1. hi Ben,
    Mad magazine #113, September 1967.
    paix, US

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  2. Congratulations Ben !

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  3. Impressive research ! Congratulations.

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  4. Sherlock Holmes Strikes again, the tiny clues that go into dating a picture like this. Really well done!

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