Forget sex tape -- what about Jimi Hendrix's guitar!

(Credit: Urbanite)

The white Gibson SG Custom electric guitar owned by Jimi Hendrix. (photo courtesy of DHL)

It was September 1969 when iconic rocker Jimi Hendrix made his second appearance on the esteemed "Dick Cavett Show" and on American national television.

Dressed in a turquoise flowered silk kimono, Hendrix, in a trance-like state, made his fingers move like magic as he sang “Izabella,” a song about a soldier calling home to his girl.

“Hey, Izabella, girl, I'm fightin' this war for the children and you,” he cried.

The white Gibson SG Custom electric guitar Hendrix played that day, one year before his death, was delivered this morning by DHL to New York City’s Hard Rock Café, where it will remain on display until the end of June. The guitar is accompanied by a plaque and a framed photo of Hendrix.

“It’s an honor to have such a piece of memorabilia in the New York cafe,” said David Miller, the director of operations for the restaurant. “I was 5 years old when he played that guitar, and it’s amazing that it’s now one of the 500 pieces of rock history that we have here.”Ian Blackman, the DHL driver who delivered the guitar, scanned the case and had Miller sign for the 160-pound package as a small crowd of tourists and photographers watched.

Made with a sculpted mahogany body and mother-of-pearl inlays, the guitar was flown in Friday night from Paris and transported from Orlando, to New York. It will be on display in the case under glass, surrounded by other pieces of rock memorabilia, including framed Beatles 45s, an autographed Frank Sinatra album cover, and a Bing Crosby original acetate record from 1936.

The New York Hard Rock Café received the guitar as a reward for being named “Top of the Rock,” an award presented by corporate to six franchise and six company-owned cafes each year based on financial performance, unique sales accomplishments and community contributions.

The guitar was acquired by the Hard Rock Café through a private estate auction in the early 1990s, said spokesperson Kristen Hauser. During the last three years, it has been displayed at various locations around the world for two months at a time as part of the “Top of the Rock” program.

Miller cites charity programs and new green initiatives, as well as customer service from the restaurant’s 327 employees, as the reasons for the award.

“We’ve known for one month that we were going to get this guitar and it’s a fantastic privilege for our hard work,” said Freddie Veldeman, a server at the restaurant and Hendrix fan. “We couldn’t wait to get it here.”

Some tourists and employees said they didn’t know much about Hendrix, who was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1992 and named the “No. 1 Guitarist of All Time” by Rolling Stone magazine in 2003.

Others, like Veldeman, hovered over the case with excitement.

“[Hendrix] is one in a billion and his guitar is the history of rock and roll,” said Veldeman, 33, pointing to the case. “This is what the Hard Rock Café stands for.”

-- Vidya Rao

Tags: jimi hendrix , manhattan , media , entertainment

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