Janis Joplin’s Mandolin She Gifted to Jimi Hendrix Sells for Massive Price at Auction

by Alex Falls

Rock memorabilia can fetch some huge prices. Depending on the history behind the item, people will spend a fortune on something their favorite artist-owned. Few artists are as beloved as Jimi Hendrix and Janis Joplin. The 60s icons were incredibly influential to their generation. However, they both died at the young age of 27. Making the chance to own pieces of their extraordinary careers very rare.

Finding a piece of history from either famous musician is a rare occurrence. However, one piece that has a shared history between the two icons recently came up for auction and sold for big bucks.

A hand-painted mandolin owned by Hendrix fetched a steep $281,250. 29 bidders fought it out to become the owner of this piece of history. Adding to the value, Hendrix was gifted the mandolin from the enigmatic singer herself. One could argue that’s actually a great deal for a piece with such history.

The mandolin had been part of a private collection for 20 years before it was acquired by the Memphis Music Hall of Fame. The instrument doesn’t just have a cool story behind it, it’s also a beautiful piece of craftsmanship. It’s painted with flowers and phrases such as “love thy neighbor,” “Janis Joplin & B.B.H.Co,” and “Jimi Hendrix.”

The mandolin represents the friendship between two of the most iconic stars of the 60s counterculture movement. A historical piece of two Rock and Roll Hall of Famers for the price of one.

The Janis Joplin Song Inspired by Jimi Hendrix

Hendrix and Joplin struck up a great friendship after meeting in 1968. But they never got the chance to record music together, unfortunately. When Joplin began work on her seminal album, Pearl, one song had a distinct influence from her famous guitar-wielding friend.

“Half Moon” was never released as a single, but it’s beloved by fans of the era. The song was written by John Hall and his then-wife Johanna Schier. Hall said in an interview reported on by Far Out Magazine that he had been struggling as a musician at the time. But when the chance to work with Joplin came up he immediately began work on a Hendrix-inspired riff.

“So my main responsibility with that song was writing the guitar lick, which I’d say was very Hendrix inspired, and then fitting the lyric to the music,” Hall said. “Then Janis did her own job on that, fitting it to her singing style and to her band. It was very exciting to teach it to the Full Tilt Boogie Band with Janis in her living room in Marin County, California.”

Even after the amendments made by Joplin’s band to Hall’s original version of the song, the influence of Hendrix’s work on Joplin remains as clear in “Half Moon.” It begs the question of how wonderful a collaboration between the two musical titans could have been if they joined forces before their untimely deaths.