Wednesday, November 15, 2006

RFID Authenticates Hendrix Memorabilia, Jessica Biel Photos

Spydo Music Inc. CEO Duane “Spyder” Hughes seems serious about using radio frequency identification technology as a means to authenticate celebrity memorabilia.

The music producer confirmed Friday he's working with RFID Ltd. to embed RFID chips into a Jimi Hendrix guitar strap and a wah-wah foot pedal. The pieces are owned by Tunde Ra and Taharqa, twin brothers who recorded with the rock icon on several albums prior to his death in 1970.

At the time, the two brothers, Albert and Arthur Allen (Tunde Ra and Taharqa), were known as The Ghetto Fighters, a back-up group who played with Hendrix.

On the surface RFID and music memorabilia might seem an unlikely pair, but Hughes says the technology can help collectors identify counterfeit items. (You can read about plans for RFID Ltd’s global database and certification service in an article in the RFID Journal.)

“Most musicians are not aware of RFID technology, but once they become aware I think they will follow,” Hughes says. “They really think of RFID for use on retail merchandise, rather than memorabilia.”

Hughes shared some Hendrix history, such as the relationship with the Allen brothers, interesting information that didn’t make it into the RFID Journal article.

Although it's well known that Hendrix was born in Seattle, Hughes says, it may not be common knowledge he needed to improve his image among those in the black community.

"Jimi needed to be around some real cool cats that knew what was going on in New York City, and those were the Allen twins,” Hughes says. "Jimi wasn’t seen as a hero in the black community” because in the 1960, playing rock guitar appealed more to “white audiences. Black audiences were into James Brown and the Temptations, the Motown sound."

Hendrix’s guitar sounded more like the rockers who migrated to the United States from the United Kingdom. “The twins gave Jimi his blacker identity,” Hughes says. “In exchange, Jimi gave the twins the guitar strap and the Wah-Wah foot pedal and other things. Jimi was a big-hearted guy and gave the brothers a couple of things like one of his strats.

At the time it wasn’t a big deal, Hughes says, because no one knew Hendrix would die and become an iconic legend, making the Stratocaster guitar legendary, too.

Why put RFID tags on Hendrix’s guitar strap and wah-wah foot pedal? RFID technology will authenticate the pieces. Tunde Ra and Taharqa, now known as the Fantastic Aleems, have agreed to sell the guitar strap and wah-wah foot pedal, along with publishing rights to several songs, to one of the major digital music sites, such as Napster, SpiralFrog or Yahoo! Music. The bidding process takes place this week. RFID will authenticate the pieces as they transition from the brothers to new owners.


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