The House of Handel and Hendrix: Jimi Hendrix's bedroom becomes museum at former home in London

By Culture24 Reporter | 10 February 2016

The public can see the guitars and ashtrays in the house where Jimi Hendrix and George Frideric Handel once performed their magic

A photo of a woman sitting in a flat recreated to look like it is from the late 1960s
Kathy Etchingham at 23 Brook Street© Michael Bowles / Handel & Hendrix in London
Kathy Etchingham, who shared Jimi Hendix’s flat at 23 Brook Street after they moved in on July 4 1968, says part of the attraction of their new place was its central location without having neighbours.

There was, however, a next door flat, once home to an equally celebrated musician: George Frideric Handel lived there for 36 years, writing Messiah, which Hendrix spent hours listening to in his bedroom (at a gig at San Francisco’s Winterland Ballroom, in October 1968, he even played a loose version of Handel’s Hallelujah Chorus.)

A photo of a woman sitting in a flat recreated to look like it is from the late 1960s
A two-year project has restored the upper floors of the Georgian house© Michael Bowles / Handel & Hendrix in London
Speaking at the opening of the modest flat as a museum and learning centre, Etchingham said Hendrix would always have his Epiphone FT79 acoustic guitar near his bed, bought in New York at the end of his first US tour with the Experience and used to work out the riffs for songs including Bob Dylan’s All Along the Watchtower, as well as to entertain guests during parties.

A brightly-coloured bedspread, dark wooden chair, batik wall hanging, fruit bowl, peacock screen, bedside mirror and unfolding fire escape are part of a central room recreation based on surviving stills and films from 1969, with bright turquoise curtains and an adjoining room recalling Hendrix’s records at the flat.

A photo of a woman sitting in a flat recreated to look like it is from the late 1960s
Handel held rehearsals and first performances of his compositions at 25 Brook Street, next door© Michael Bowles / Handel & Hendrix in London
“His London life is now at the edge of living memory,” says Christian Lloyd, whose book, Hendrix at Home: A Bluesman in Mayfair, was written to accompany the £2.4 million, Heritage Lottery-backed restoration project.

“Hendrix’s ‘deathtime’ is almost twice as long as his lifetime. He was only 25 when he first climbed the stairs to the Mayfair flat.”

A photo of a woman sitting in a flat recreated to look like it is from the late 1960s
Hendrix would play records loudly on his Bang and Olufsen turntable© Michael Bowles / Handel & Hendrix in London
Lloyd interviewed some of the master guitarist’s closest friends and creative allies. “I was struck both by how loyal they remain to him and how keen they are to dispel the distorting mythologies created about him in retrospect.

“Looking at Jimi from the point of view of his everyday life makes clear how hard he worked and how dependent he was on a brilliant circle of collaborators in London for his music, image and wellbeing.”

A photo of a woman sitting in a flat recreated to look like it is from the late 1960s
A studio for shows and teaching has also been created at the house© Michael Bowles / Handel & Hendrix in London
This work ethic extended to sleep: Hendrix, recalls Etchingham, would usually rise after 3pm and, she told Lloyd, hated dancing – refusing to do so when she asked him to.

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The National Jazz Archive
Founded in 1988 by trumpeter Digby Fairweather, the National Jazz Archive holds the UK’s finest collection of written, printed and visual material on jazz, blues and related music, from the 1920s to the present day.

Saatchi Gallery, London
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