Jimi Hendrix, the guitarist famous for setting fire to his guitar on stage and who died of a drug overdose, was in fact a home-loving type who liked nothing better than to browse the soft-furnishing departments of high-street stores.
The revelation came at an auction yesterday of his possessions organised by his former girlfriend Kathy Etchingham, which included furniture from the London flat they shared until his death in 1970.
"Jimi enjoyed choosing all the colours and the textures and discussing them with the sales staff," recalled Ms Etchingham. "Other shoppers stopped and stared in amazement, not expecting to see Jimi Hendrix discussing patterns in the curtain department of John Lewis."
The highlight of the sale was a guitar that was Hendrix's constant companion at the peak of his musical creativity. It was bought by an anonymous telephone bidder for £62,000. Hendrix had paid $25, or about £15, for the vintage Epiphone when he bought it second-hand in 1967 in New York but he kept it for longer than any of his other guitars.
The auction was to raise funds for Drugscope, Britain's biggest online library for drugs advice and information.
Hendrix died in London of a barbiturates overdose at the age of 27. Ms Etchingham, who lived with the singer for three years after he arrived in Britain, is eager to prevent others being killed through "ignorance" of drugs. She said he had "not got a clue" about the strength of the drugs that caused his death.
An amplifier specifically designed for Hendrix's powerful sound was sold to a private bidder for £33,350, more than double the estimated price.
A collection of his necklaces and pendants, unpublished photographs – many by Linda McCartney – and other memorabilia were donated to raise money for Drugscope, which has amassed more than 60 years of drugs research and information.
Drugscope is seeking to make its research freely available to the public through an online library, which the Hendrix money will hope to fund.
Ms Etchingham said: "If we had known in the Sixties all about the things that were being taken, there might be a few people still alive today."
So many people arrived at the south London auction house yesterday afternoon that many were forced to sit on the floor due to lack of space.
One of the most sought-after items from the flat was the ashtray Hendrix used for stubbing out the formidable "cigarettes" to which he was so partial. It fetched double its estimated price and sold for £598.Reuse content