A Guitar Rock Legend
Some claim to have caught sight of him, others swear they even conversed with him, Jimi Hendrix. 50 years after the untimely loss of the pioneering black American guitar legend, a Diabat village on Morocco's Atlantic coast pulsates with his memory following a claimed brief stop in Essaouira, a former fort town in the summer of 1969.
Said Bousbaa, retired and former owner of a Jimmy Hendrix coffee shop in Diabat, explained the goings-on at that time, "Jimmy Hendrix came to Essaouira in 1969, he made a stint here in Diabat, at that time there was the hippie movement, almost 60,000 visited at that time from all nationalities, artists, doctors, writers, painters, a lot of people came here."
The mystery swirling around the undocumented stay of the "Purple Haze" and "Hey Joe" hit song artist has given rise to countless myths surrounding the fleeting trip. Hence, with its Cafe Jimi and the Hendrix inn, the village is now a tourist magnet - a nostalgic walk down memory lane full of images celebrating the musician in Diabat's white houses.
"I saw him here. He was young and carried a guitar on his back," swore Mohammed Boualala, who is in his 60s and grew up in the small settlement of Diabat before joining the army. "He visited friends who were staying in the village. It was the last time that we saw him," sighed Boualala, clad in a traditional brown tunic. "They say he is dead but only God knows."
"Hendrix looked in good shape" when he visited, insisted Abdelaziz Khaba, 72, his memory seemingly unhindered by the sands of time. "He was surrounded by hefty bodyguards."Khaba added that he had posed for a snap with the guitar wizard, but "lost the photo."
His Legacy Lives on in Diabat
Action shots and colourful portraits commemorate the historic passing of the guitar hero just before he wowed the crowds at Woodstock.
Local legend even has it that Hendrix's "Castles made of Sand" was inspired by the ruins of Diabat's Dar Sultan Palace. But in reality, the track was released in 1967, two years before the star's Moroccan visit. Still, this song title is triumphantly displayed in a wooden plaque nailed to the wall in the little Diabat cafe.
Further stories of Hendrix's Moroccan adventure recount how he explored the country in a van, sought to purchase an island off the Essaouira coast - and even the entire village of Diabat, before retreating behind sandcastle walls.
But there seems to be little truth amidst the haze of fantastical stories and all are to the amusement of Hendrix biographer Caesar Glebbeek, who claims that Hendrix never even visited Diabat. His "short visit... produced a mountain of erroneous information and fictitious stories."