Hey Joe, where you going with my cod & chips? Unravelling the truth behind Jimi Hendrix's historic visit to a fish & chip shop in the north of England

The exterior of Marshalls Fish & Chip Shop in Tynemouth
(Image credit: Marshall's Shop: James McNair | Jimi Hendrix: Chris Walter via Getty Images| Fish & Chips: Tracey Kusiewicz/Foodie Photography via Getty Images)

You can just picture it. It’s March 10, 1967, and having played at the Club Agogo in Newcastle, Jimi Hendrix has ventured to the nearby seaside village of Tynemouth. Perhaps the young guitar god has pulled a Geordie lass who lives on the coast, or maybe his Newcastle-born manager Chas Chandler is showing him the sights. Either way, Jimi is hungry. He’s worked-up an appetite putting his Stratocaster through the Club Agogo’s plaster ceiling (actor Jimmy Nail was there and witnessed this), and, strolling along Tynemouth’s Front Street, he spots a fish & chip shop. 

It’s winter and the delicious fried food and vinegar smell is temptation enough, but when Jimi notices the shop is called Marshalls, he feels fate’s hand at his shoulder. Born James Marshall Hendrix, and a famed-user of Marshall amps, the guitarist goes inside and purchases a fish supper wrapped in newspaper, maybe a Saveloy and a pickled egg, and devours them on a nearby bench overlooking the sea. That’s the story commemorated on the blue plaque in the window of Marshalls Restaurant to this day. But did it really happen? 

The blue plaque in the window of Marshalls

(Image credit: James McNair)

Famously, The Animals’ bassist Chas Chandler had ‘discovered’ Jimi some nine months earlier while on his final US tour with the Brit Invasion band. Chandler’s Vogue model friend Linda Keith persuaded him to come see Jimi play with Jimmy James & The Blue Flames at New York City’s Cafe Wha? on 5 July, 1966. Blown away, Chandler lured Jimi to the UK that September with the promise of an introduction to Eric Clapton, and together with former Newcastle Club Agogo boss Mike Jeffery, he would mastermind Jimi’s rise to fame as leader of The Jimi Hendrix Experience.

Chas and Jimi first came to Newcastle in January 1967, around the time Jimi’s cover of Hey Joe first charted. But this was only for a heavy drinking session at the home of Chandler’s parents in the Heaton district. Locally, rumours abound that Jimi busked on nearby thoroughfare Chillingham Road that night, but like his partaking of a fish supper in Tynemouth, the story remains possible but unprovable, lost to the ravages of time.

Classic Rock approached staff members at Marshalls chippy for further information on Jimi’s blue plaque and supposed visit, but was told “You’ll have to speak to the manager and he’s not here.” Subsequent attempts to contact the shop’s owner proved fruitless, despite Classic Rock calling at the shop again and leaving a name and contact number. So if there is some kind of evidence (anecdotal or otherwise) of Jimi’s visit to Marshalls, the shop’s manager doesn’t seem particularly keen to present it.

Marshalls fish & chip shop in Tynemouth

Crowds gather outside Marshalls' fish & chip shop in Tynemouth to eat fish & chips and pay tribute to Jimi Hendrix, possibly (Image credit: James McNair)

It’s a matter of record, however, that Jimi played the New Cellar Club in South Shields on February 1, 1967, and when he returned to play Newcastle’s Club Agogo that March 10, those present included the aforementioned Jimmy Nail, future Geordie and AC/DC singer Brian Johnson, and a certain Gordon Sumner, aka Sting. 

“I must have been 14”, Sting recalled. “I’d never seen a black man before, let alone a black man who was six feet tall with an Afro haircut and a sort of 17th Century military costume.” Discombobulated and inspired in equal measure, Sting would go on to cover Jimi’s Little Wing, but sadly he didn’t accompany Jimi for fish & chips the night he saw him live. Otherwise, we might have a living witness to the purported scoff.

James McNair

James McNair grew up in East Kilbride, Scotland, lived and worked in London for 30 years, and now resides in Whitley Bay, where life is less glamorous, but also cheaper and more breathable. He has written for Classic Rock, Prog, Mojo, Q, Planet Rock, The Independent, The Idler, The Times, and The Telegraph, among other outlets. His first foray into print was a review of Yum Yum Thai restaurant in Stoke Newington, and in many ways it’s been downhill ever since. His favourite Prog bands are Focus and Pavlov’s Dog and he only ever sits down to write atop a Persian rug gifted to him by a former ELP roadie.