The Handel & Hendrix in London Museum opens its doors to Jimi Hendrix’s London Brook Street flat from 10 February . It’s a unique project that the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) committee member Rachel Hasted notes: “brings together Rock & the Baroque.”
The project’s roots can be traced back to the 14 September 1997, when an English Heritage blue plaque commemorated Jimi Hendrix, and his 23 Brook Street flat was chosen as the only officially recognized Hendrix residence in the world.
The HLF has provided most of the finance in helping to the restore Hendrix’s flat which he shared in the summer of 1968 with his then girlfriend and tonight’s special guest Kathy Etchingham.
In the interim period, the 1960′s attic flat has been used an office and while tonight is all about celebrating the Hendrix legacy, the site is doubly unique because Hendrix’s historic neighbour was German-born British composer George Frederic Handel.
As HLF’s Rachel Hasted summarizes: ”This is a terrific project. We’ve been delighted to support the Handel House Trust in its ambition to reveal the story of this unique site when two of the worlds most remarkable musical talents were next door neighbours, separated only by 240 years, but what’s that in one good trip?”
She also describes the project as: “An inspired idea which will open up the heritage of London as a centre for music making across centuries, drawing on an increasing wider world of musical sources until the present day.”
The centrepiece of the exhibition is inevitably the intricately restored bedroom, a cosy space with a beguiling mix of drapes, Persian rugs, with Dylan on the turntable, a TV on the floor, copies of music papers of the time on the bed, a black dial telephone that was used to call up food from downstairs and Hendrix’s Epiphone acoustic.
This was the epicentre of Hendrix world, the place where he held court, did his interviews and wrote some of his best material. It’s also a beautifully restored snap shot of the time.
Aside from Kathy’s efforts in restoring the flat, Christian Lloyd researched and sourced artefacts etc and his effort will soon be part of a book detailing Hendrix’s time in Brook Street. Meanwhile the new permanent exhibition gives as a tantalizing view of a special time and place.
Tonight’s VIP preview is full to capacity and though probably thinner on the ground in terms of extant figures of the time, it is great to see Jimi’s partner Kathy Etchingham, who came all the way from Australia to preside over the flats restoration.
Hendrix’s pedal guru Roger Mayer is both there in person and is represented in the Hendrix Gear section of the exhibition.
It was Mayer who had the vision to help realize Hendrix’s ideas. His innovative and groundbreaking Octavia guitar effect pedal gave the musical world new audio possibilities at the time, but only Hendrix had the imagination to grasp the opportunity.
From left, Pete Feenstra, Ed Vuliammy, Kathy Etchingham, Roger Mayer – Handel & Hendrix In London
Madeline Bell is also here and its great to report that she’s still busy performing today. Guardian Journalist Ed Vulliamy who saw Hendrix at the Isle of Wight Festival and has written about him extensively is full of memories, as is music journalist and author Charles Shaar Murray, who wrote the Hendrix opus ‘Crosstown Traffic’.
Influential 1960′s snapper Barrie Wentzell (Melody Maker photographer 65-75) arrives a little later, but is warmly welcomed and rock blues guitarist Stephen Dale Petit is a contemporary Hendrix disciple.
The Handel & Hendrix’s organisation’s original mission statement was to: ‘promote knowledge, awareness and enjoyment of Handel and his music to as wide a public audience as possible.’ It’s good to know that same energy is now being channeled towards Jimi Hendrix’s legacy.
Review by Pete Feenstra
Photos by Roger Mayer
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