ALEXANDER STEVENS was having guitar lessons in Lynton Gardens in the Yarm Road area of Darlington in the late 1960s. He needed an instrument to practise on but fortunately, his teacher had one for sale.

“He said he could not use it at gigs or when he was practising because everyone would recognise it,” he says. “He showed it to me and it was black and was strung for a left-handed player.”

This guitar, it became clear, was hot property. It was the guitar that “disappeared” from the Blue Pad Club in the Imperial Hotel on the evening of February 2, 1967 – 50 years ago. It was the black Fender Stratocaster which belonged to Jimi Hendrix. The guitar teacher simply said he had “found” the guitar in a rehearsal room, but it was clear that this was the Hendrix guitar.

Of course, when Hendrix played the Imperial Hotel, he was just beginning his ascent to fame. By the time Alexander began his guitar lessons, Hendrix had risen to become the highest paid rock musician in the world, headlining Woodstock. And within a year, he would be dead.

All of which made the stolen Darlington guitar more valuable and more hot.

The guitar teacher wanted £15 for it, which Alexander, an apprentice welder at the time, was unable to afford.

Another buyer was soon found, and Alexander went with his teacher to close the deal in an alley beside Binns. The purchaser, who played in a band which specialised in Shadows covers, came from the Eastbourne area of town.

“The last I saw of it was the guitar being gutted and it was in the process of changing colour – it was handpainted blue,” Alexander remembers. “Everyone today is looking for a black, beaten-up Fender, and that’s why no one can find it.”

Any further theories?