Hendrix in Britain, a new exhibit devoted to the London life, music, performances and enduring legacy of guitarist Jimi Hendrix is running from August 25 to November 7 at the Handel House Museum. While the museum at 25 Brook Street is normally dedicated to legendary 18th-century composer George Fredric Handel, who spent the last 36 years of his life there, the museum’s administrative offices are next door at 23 Brook Street, which Hendrix rented out in 1968.
To commemorate the 40th anniversary of Hendrix’s untimely death on September 18, 1970, the museum is moving all of its office furniture and equipment out of Hendrix’s old flat to allow for 12 days of tours. While there’s still time though to catch the exhibition and some other Handel and Hendrix themed events, including an improvisational harpsichord and a Hendrix walking tour, tickets to visit his flat have sold out.
The legendary guitarist would probably approve of the weird cultural mashup with Handel. Legend has it that when Hendrix found out who used to live next door, he rushed out to buy the Messiah on vinyl. Hendrix also later claimed to have once seen Handel’s wig-wearing ghost disappear into a wall. If the exhibit and other festivities are as popular as the flat visits, Hendrix may become a permanent part of the Handel House Museum.
The exterior of the museum’s Brook Street buildings sport two English Heritage Blue Plaques — one for Handel, and one for Hendrix. The museum claims that makes it the world’s only officially recognized Hendrix site. While Handel rented his Brook Street pad for £60 a year, Hendrix paid £60 a month, receiving visits there from Rolling Stone’s guitarist Keith Richards and The Who’s drummer Keith Moon.
Some of the Hendrix items on display at the exhibit include:
- handwritten lyrics
- a distinctive orange velvet jacket and Westerner hat Hendrix wore in concert
- a doodled self-portrait
- Hendrix’s scrawled directions to the Isle of Wight Festival, where he performed his final significant concert in August 1970
- UK concert memorabilia
[Image: Hendrix in Britain's Facebook page]