Essaouira, Morocco; Jimi Hendrix was here, or not!

Essaouira’s association with Jimi Hendrix is one of its longstanding and most endearing myths! Although the infamous rock musician did in fact visit Morocco in 1969 it was his only visit to the country and despite many claims he did not own property there.

The Jimi Hendrix cafe at Diabat in Moroccan Essaouira on Mallory on Travel adventure photography

The Jimi Hendrix cafe in Diabat

Almost every local has a story about how Hendrix touched their lives and this café in Diabat has built a whole tourism attraction around him. He was allegedly keen to buy this little Berber village outside of the ‘city of trade winds’. The only problem is he probably never actually visited Diabat, still it is a very colourful and attractive little café, great for suspending belief momentarily and immersing oneself in a cult.

The Jimi Hendrix story version by the cafe at Diabat in Essaouira, Morocco on Mallory on Travel adventure photography

Inside the shrine-like café

Allegedly he stayed at particular Riads, which he didn’t, eaten in restaurants that did not even exist, and played the guitar he never took with local musicians. He is also supposed to been inspired to write “Castles made of Sand” after seeing the half buried fort ‘Bordj El Berod‘ exposed at high tide, despite the song being released in 1967, almost two years before his visit.

“Like George Washington he slept in everyone’s house around the Moroccan countryside” stated Deering Howe in 2005 who was Hendrix’s companion during his trip to Morocco.

The Jimi hendrix story alive and well in Diabat, Essaouira on the Moroccan coast of the North African Atlantic on Mallory on Travel adventure photography

Telling the ‘story’ like it is

  • It is quite amazing how such myths materialise and grow. It is understandable that local traders, restaurateurs and hoteliers would want to cultivate some legends, it’s a sound business strategy. A small but thriving cottage industry has grown up around these myths, there is even an experience page on Facebook, written in French. However this particular legend is happily sustained by supposedly reliable sources; media, guidebooks, and even biographers have perpetuated the myth.

There is even a story that Hendrix, Bob Marley and Cat Stevens started a Moroccan commune although I cannot find any definitive evidence Marley actually visited. However his band the Wailers did take part in the 2004 Gnaoua festival.

Like all good myths there is a seed of truth in it, the man did visit Essaouira during his time in the North African country and just for the record he did actually love Morocco. Sounds like a good recommendation, if it’s good enough for Jimi Hendrix it’ll do for me!

Essaouira harbour protected by its ramparts on the Moroccan Atlantic coast on Mallory on Travel adventure photography

Essaouira ramparts


Comments 6

  1. Mike Hinshaw

    Love this blog. I was a young man in his prime and bought all his records. Couldn’t believe it when I heard the news he had passed. He was truly a genius and we lost him way too young. Thanks for bringing back a flood of memories!

  2. BeP

    Jimi Hendrix came in July 1969, and spen 11 days in Essoiria. He arrived in Casablanca with a scheduled flight from Paris, accpaied by two friend.

  3. Carol Miller

    Being from Seattle, where Hendrix did actually live, and now spending 10 days in Essaouira see the attraction he would have to this exotic and easy lifestyle. But a short horseback ride thru the “ruins” of his alleged home, I found it hard to believe it would deteriorate so thoroughly in such a relatively short amount of time (30+years). The so called ruins of the house he supposedly built look to be over 100 years. Possibly a myth of hopeful locals, wanting to sell a piece of a dream (photos for 10 dm)? And yes, a genius not meant for a long tenure in a mortal existence. Love you Jimi, thanks for the music & memories!

  4. David Lukas

    I was there as J.H was about in leave in 1969 saw him ,but never met him or heard him play ,he did visit Diabat ,I was living in my camper van In the woods between Essaouria and Diabat,and saw him on the beach.

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