Irsay Collection Acquires Guitars Owned by Rock Hall Members Hendrix and Dylan

The Jim Irsay Collection

INDIANAPOLIS (April 17, 2023) – The Jim Irsay Collection, based in Indianapolis, has acquired new items from two of the greatest artists in music history:

Jimi Hendrix’s 1964 Fender Jazzmaster guitar. Hendrix, a Rock & Roll Hall of Famer who Rolling Stone named as the greatest guitarist in rock history, personally owned this electric guitar and gifted it to his friend, fellow Rock Hall member Billy Davis, best known for his work with Hank Ballard and the Midnighters.

Hendrix first sought out Davis after seeing him perform in Seattle, Wash., Hendrix’s hometown. They hit if off over their shared love of music, and Davis gave Hendrix early guitar lessons and was reportedly the first person to give him the opportunity to play an electric guitar.

Prior to Hendrix’s untimely passing in 1970, Davis stopped by Hendrix’s Greenwich Village apartment where he graciously told Davis to take the guitar. The two remained friends until Hendrix’s death.

After acquiring the guitar, Davis converted its strings to a right-handed setup, though the guitar still shows some signs of wear from being played left-handed. Davis later used the guitar in recording sessions with Lithofayne Pridgon, the original inspiration for Hendrix's mega-hit, "Foxy Lady.”

Bob Dylan’s 1992 Gibson Hummingbird guitar.  Rock & Roll Hall of Famer Bob Dylan played this acoustic guitar during the U.S. Presidential Inaugural Concert at the Lincoln Memorial on January 17, 1993. Thirty years earlier, Dylan performed in the same spot, during the March on Washington, at which Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. delivered his famous “I Have a Dream” speech.

The Hummingbird has been exhibited at Gibson’s New York Showroom, the Grammy Museum in Los Angeles and Kogart House Museum in Hungary as part of the 2011 exhibition From San Francisco to Woodstock.

About the Collection

Irsay’s passion for rock music led him to assemble instruments and items owned and used by some of the greatest artists in music history, including Dylan, Hendrix, The Beatles, Prince, James Brown, Eric Clapton, Sir Elton John, Johnny Cash, Jerry Garcia, Les Paul, Bo Diddley, David Gilmour, Jim Morrison, Pete Townshend, Janis Joplin, Kurt Cobain and John Coltrane.

Also, Irsay’s love for American history and pop culture led him to grow his collection with items such as:

  • An 1823 William J. Stone printing of the Declaration of Independence, one of the first exact “facsimiles” of the final signed document;
  • Artifacts and signed documents from numerous U.S. Presidents;
  • Handwritten documents and artifacts from women’s suffrage pioneer Susan B. Anthony;
  • The original manuscript for Alcoholics Anonymous’ Big Book, the organization’s founding document;
  • Renowned American author Jack Kerouac’s original 119-foot On the Road scroll;
  • A Jackie Robinson game-used bat from 1953 (the founding year of the Colts);
  • Secretariat’s saddle from his 1973 Triple Crown victory;
  • Muhammad Ali’s championship belt from his victory over George Foreman in the 1974 "Rumble in the Jungle” and his boxing shoes from the 1975 “Thrilla’ in Manilla” vs. Joe Frazier, and
  • Original handwritten script and notes by Sylvester Stallone for the movie Rocky.

An active philanthropist, Irsay regularly loans items to museums, nonprofits and other organizations for display and research. Items have been displayed at the U.S.’s Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, The Metropolitan Museum of Art (The Met), The Lincoln Memorial, the world-famous Beverly Hills Hotel, and the Indiana State Museum; as well as at The Centre Pompidou (Paris), the British Library (London), Auditorium Parco della Musica (Rome) and other locations around the world.

Irsay also has hosted free exhibitions of the collection in Nashville, Tenn., Washington, D.C., Austin, Tex., Los Angeles, New York City, Chicago, Indianapolis, San Francisco and Las Vegas. More dates are planned for 2023 and beyond.

Larry C. Hall
Steve Campbell