The London apartment of American guitarist and rock legend Jimi Hendrix has been restored as a museum.
Hendrix was an American rock guitarist, singer and songwriter.
He and his girlfriend, Kathy Etchingham, lived in a top floor flat of an 18th-century house in London’s Mayfair neighborhood in 1968 and 1969.
Every detail of the living space has been re-created. Persian rugs are on the floor, a Victorian shawl hangs above the bed, newspapers lie on the dresser and a clamshell ashtray sits next to it.
Another room of the new museum has a wall of album covers,
including Hendrix’s “Are You Experienced?” That was his first album with drummer Mitch Mitchell and bass player Noel Redding. Some of Hendrix’s own album collection –- including a copy of Bob Dylan’s “Highway 61 Revisited” stained with Hendrix’s own blood -– are on display.
Christian Lloyd is a professor at Queen’s University in Britain and the author of a new book, “Hendrix at Home: A Bluesman in Mayfair.” He says Hendrix had no neighbors when he rented the flat, so he could make music as loud as he wanted to.
“I think it was the kind of place where, after they’d been to ‘The Speakeasy’ – one of the music clubs just five or 10 minute’ walk away they’d come back here later and hang out and so on. So yeah, Jimi was 25 when he was here, so yeah they had some fun, yeah.”
Lloyd says the display also features Hendrix’s acoustic guitar that was always nearby.
“That guitar was always leaned up against the bed there. It was always within hand’s reach, he composed many of his most famous songs on that guitar, not on an electric guitar actually. He’s also someone who worked really, really hard on his music.”
The apartment at 23 Brook Street is next to the former house of composer George Frideric Handel. It was originally office space for the Handel House Museum. Hendrix’s old apartment had been open only for special events. Museum directors decided to open a permanent museum in the flat.
Jimi Hendrix was born in Seattle and was almost unknown when he first came to London in 1966. Word soon spread in the music community of his extraordinary talent. The following year he released his debut album, “Are You Experienced?” with his band. The Jimi Hendrix Experience made him an international star.
Although most of Hendrix's last years were spent touring, he returned to make London his base in 1968. The Brook Street house is his only surviving home.
Barrie Wentzell is a former photographer for Melody Maker magazine. He photographed Jimi Hendrix in the flat in the 1960s. Some of his images are on display in the exhibit. He says Jimi would be pleased with the exhibit.
“Every time I hear that ‘Hey Joe’ on the radio, I’m back in the darkroom again. The music and the pictures are a mnemonic to bring you back into that. And I think it’s very important for the younger generation who don’t know that world of freedom and hippyness and money wasn’t an issue and hey you walk down the street and there’s Jimmy Page or Richie Blackmore or you go to The Speakeasy and there’s Keith Moon destroying somebody’s drum it and drinking somebody to the floor in the bar.”
Jimi Hendrix died in London in September 1970, at the age of 27, of a drug overdose. Had he lived he would now be 73.
I’m Marsha James.
David Byrd reported on this story for VOANews.com. Marsha James adapted this story for Learning English. Kathleen Struck was the editor.
Words in This Story
flat – n. an apartment usually on one floor
mnemonic – n. something that helps people remember something
hippy – n. a young person who rejects established social customs and who opposes violence and war