Billy Gibbons Talks About Touring with Jimi Hendrix

The inimitable Billy F. Gibbons talks about a colorful late-night session with Jimi.

Jimi once said on live television that you were America’s best guitar player. He even gave you his pink Strat as gift, since he considered it too good to be burned. Tell us about your time with Jimi.

When we were supporting Jimi, I was sitting in my hotel room one night and practiced a little. Then this dude stuck his head through the door — it was Jimi Hendrix! I felt paralyzed and speechless. He grabbed my guitar, laid down on the floor, looked at the ceiling and played some unbelievable licks, before asking whether I could do stuff like this, too — and then he even stepped it up a notch. Afterwards he showed me some tricks. I learned a lot from him.

There’s another night I will never forget. After a show somewhere we were so full of adrenalin still that no one could sleep. Back then, there was no curfew at the venues, which meant you could stay as long as you wanted. It must’ve been 3 a.m. Jimi’s Marshall stacks were still up on-stage, when one of his roadies brought huge sheets of paper, buckets of fluorescent color and two cleaning mops. The paper was hung as a backdrop, the cleaning mops were stuck onto two guitars. Jimi plugged in and went into a furious sound and feedback assault. Again and again he dipped his guitar in the fluorescent color and ecstatically smeared it on the paper. He told me to try it too, and that’s what I did. We played until we were dizzy. That was all so bizarre, and you could feel the energy. Needless to say we didn’t get anymore sleep that night.

Read Alex Becker's complete Gibbons interview at