Urban Myth #427 ; The History of the Purple Electric Violin

I bought my first electric violin from an Antiques dealer in Camden Lock who’d seen me busking there. He left me his business card with a note saying he had a violin I might be interested in; when I called round to his shop and saw it I was truly amazed – it was an antique German Stradivarius copy, sprayed metallic purple and fitted with a Barcus-Berry bridge pick-up.

I knew instantly that I had to own it.  The dealer told me he’d bought it from a friend of Jimi Hendrix, who claimed to have played it on one of the Electric Ladyland sessions (apparently it had been Hendrix’s suggestion to paint it purple!) who in turn had bought it from a mysterious guy called H.H. who had allegedly travelled with the notorious League on their legendary Journey to the East!

H.H. had become disillusioned with the League following a strange and tragic incident at the gorge of Morbio Inferiore, lost his love of music and decided to sell his precious violin.

Apparently this violin had a strange and fascinating history. It had been presented to the Emperor Nero by a two-headed guy called Zaphod, who had confiscated it from a wild-skinned sky-gypsy in Milliways restaurant. When he plugged it into Hotblack Desiato’s nuclear-powered amplifier, the resultant explosion destroyed half of Rome and set fire to the rest! Salvaged from the ruins by a time-traveller known only as the Doctor, it was transported to Georgia, where a country boy named Johnny used it in a famous duel with the Devil.  Many years later, it was discovered floating in the North Atlantic by the great detective Sherlock Holmes, who believed it may have been played on board the RMS Titanic on its ill-fated maiden voyage!

Having bought it, I felt a strange compulsion to retrace the League’s footsteps, playing it on the streets of Europe for many years, its case serving as a pillow when I slept rough under the Ponte Vecchio and the Eiffel Tower. I played it at Glastonbury and Stonehenge during the legendary Free Festivals of the 1980s, under the Niagara Falls and in front of Ghiberti’s ‘Gates of Paradise’ in Firenze.

Sadly, it was stolen by some little bandits during a fight in the Melkweg in Amsterdam, and I had to hand-carve my Purple Electric Violin Mk III with a kitchen knife to replace it  -  but that’s another story!

3 Responses to “Urban Myth #427 ; The History of the Purple Electric Violin”

  1. Layne August 7, 2014 at 2:13 pm #

    Hello, trying to check out your pages has been “interesting” & frustrating. I think the site could do with some tweeking and it would be good to have some of your music to listen to whilst reading, it would also be good to have some pictures to look at….. (OH my gosh I’m moaning to a complete stranger and I have more things to say, I am so sorry to bend your ear (or twist your melon) and now I’ve lost the will to continue…….) *you hear the faint foot fall of bare feet dashing to the door, followed by a dull thud as the door is flung wide and hits the shelves on the left of it……*

    • Ed Alleyne-Johnson August 13, 2014 at 5:28 pm #

      It’s still early days with the website – hopefully it’ll evolve as we get used to it!

  2. Martin November 22, 2016 at 5:46 pm #

    Hello Ed.
    A good friend introduced me to you and the EPV many years ago and I was fortunate to be in Chester some years hence, when you were there, and I spent a good hour watching and listening. I also put a few quid in your “hat”.
    I’ve always liked the electric violin sound since first listening to Darryl Way in”Curved Air”
    Good luck, keep playing and thanks.

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