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  • Writer's pictureRock Tour London

Hendrix & Handel? for real?

Updated: Sep 23, 2021

After spending much of 1968 recording and touring in the United States, Hendrix returned to London; moving into an upstairs flat at 23 Brook Street, which his then girlfriend, Kathy Etchingham, had rented for them that summer.

Kathy had completely furnished the flat with their joint possessions and new purchases, including curtains and carpets from John Lewis department store on Oxford Street.

For the next three months Hendrix used the flat as his base giving interviews there, writing new songs and preparing for his upcoming February concerts at the Royal Albert Hall. Upon learning that Handel used to live next door (albeit 200 years prior), he went to the One Stop Record Shop on South Molton Street and bought some classical albums including Handel's Messiah and Water Music.

For Jimi, Brook Street was the doorstep to the London music scene of the late 60's. His flat was a short walk from legendary places like the Marquee, the Speakeasy and The Scotch of St. James. He would spend many evenings wandering from club to club looking for a chance to play.

The building has been converted into a museum. The bedroom has been recreated using evidence from photo shoots, from reporters descriptions and through discussions with Kathy Etchingham. The artifacts have been either built from scratch as replicas pulled from original photographs, or sourced in a global search seeking out surviving items from the 1960's. The oval mirror above the fireplace is the one item that is original to the flat. The goal was to recreate the feel of the space and in doing so, shed light on Hendrix's life and surrounding in 1968 and early 1969. Hendrix created this room to be his escape from the world and considered it the first home of his own. Here he entertained small groups of friends who often came back to the flat after attending gigs in the area. A few other items of note (there's lot of them but here's just a couple - see them in the carousel of pics below): The BOAC Airline Bag that sits at the right of the bed replicates the bag that Jimi used as his guitar tool kit. He carried spare strings and picks in it and took it everywhere he went.

There's a page of lyrics on the bedside table that is a photocopy of Hendrix's handwritten lyrics to Voodoo Chile and Voodoo Child (Slight Return). The bed - guests would sit around on the bed and on the floor and every morning Jimi would make the bed neat and presentable again, probably a result of his time in the military.

The place just gives off a vibe that sends you right back to that time...both Hendrix and Etchingham smoked incessantly so that was probably the main aroma. But if you just stand there for a second you can imagine the street noise and that music must have been a constant...or just Jimi playing guitar. So cool.

London Rock and Roll history...


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