There are two strats that many people seem to confuse. They are quite similar. The first one is a red strat smashed in Saville Theater, London, on June 4, 1967, 9 days before the flight to the Monterey Pop Festival. The other one, also a red strat, but overpainted with white on the front and also with a very similar painting, is the one he burned and smashed in Monterey.
The strat he smashed at Saville Theater was a 1956 model. The way it was painted shows that it must have had a deep meaning for Jimi to do this. Compared to the Monterey guitar, the Saville has a more meaningful look to it, and also has lyrics on the back. The Monterey guitar on the other hand seems to have been done more hastily, and also lacks the lyrics.
The significance to this guitar may be the fact that Jimi was leaving for his home country, and in a state of gratitude and thankfulness for the reception he got from the English audience he decided to sacrifice something that he loved dearly, his Stratocaster.
The poem on the back reads:
May this be love or just confusion
Born out of frustration
of not being able to make true physical
love to the universal gypsie queen of
true, free expressed music
My darling guitar, please rest in peace.
The show in Saville Theater was three days after the release of The Beatles’ «Sgt. Pepper» album, and Jimi started the show with a cover of the opening song «Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band.» All of The Beatles were actually in the audience, and to cover one of their songs three days after its release with them in the audience was one of the gutsiest moves Jimi did in his whole life. If he had played an inferior version, or done an uninspired job, the embaressment might not have been overcome. Anything less than brilliance would have been catastrophy, with Beatle manager Brian Epstein being the owner of the theater, and the Beatles present. To pull off a thing like that takes complete and total confidence, and Jimi had that. He was fearless. Not only did he cover the song, but he had already come up with a new arragement, and added a killer solo complete with feedback.
The Experience was invited to a party at Epsteins house after the show, and Paul McCartney opened the door. Handing Jimi a joint he said: «That was fucking great, man.» Paul has later stated that the cover was one of the greatest honors of his career.