Fifty years after guitar legend Jimi Hendrix’s death, a village on Morocco’s Atlantic coast pulsates with his memory.
Some there claim to have seen him, others to have spoken with him.
“I saw him here. He was young and carried a guitar on his back,” said Mohammed Boualala, who is in his 60s and grew up in the small settlement of Diabat before joining the army.
In the summer of 1969, Hendrix, the pioneering US guitar wizard whose hits included Purple Haze and Hey Joe, made a brief stop in Essaouira, a former fort town and latter-day tourist magnet located five kilometres (three miles from the village.
There are no soundtracks or images left from the rock icon’s journey, but countless myths surround his fleeting trip.
“He visited friends who were staying in the village. It was the last time that we saw him,” sighed Boualala, clad in traditional brown qamis tunic. “They say he is dead but only God knows.”
Hendrix choked on his own vomit in a hotel in London on September 18, 1970 after swallowing sleeping pills and drinking red wine.
Images celebrating the American musician are a permanent fixture in Diabat’s white houses, nestled in coastal sand.
With its Cafe Jimi and the Hendrix Inn, the village has an air of sanctuary, half rock and half flower power.
“Hendrix looked in good shape” when he visited, insisted 72-year-old Abdelaziz Khaba. “He was surrounded by hefty bodyguards.”
Khaba added that he had posed for a snap with the guitar wizard, but “lost the photo”.