London attic that Jimi Hendrix called his 'only home' to be a museum

Lottery grant of HK$15m will recreate the rooms in London where US guitar legend lived in 1968

PUBLISHED : Monday, 30 December, 2013, 9:47pm
UPDATED : Monday, 30 December, 2013, 11:27pm


A permanent museum is to be created in a London attic which rock music pilgrims have been pleading to get into for decades.

They are the rooms rented in the late 1960s by Jimi Hendrix and described by him as "the only home I ever had".

The Heritage Lottery Fund is about to announce a £1.2 million (HK$15.3 million) grant to restore the rooms to their appearance in 1968, when Hendrix paid £30 a week to share the flat with his girlfriend Kathy Etchingham.

They will hold displays on his life, work and musical legacy.

A pair of blue plaques on the outside wall of the 18th-century listed building celebrates the two musical giants whose time there was separated by centuries.

Hendrix lived at 23 Brook Street and George Frideric Handel at 25. The Mayfair properties, separate houses when constructed in 1721, are now linked as the Handel House Museum.

Hendrix was almost unknown when he first came to London in 1966, but word soon spread of his extraordinary talent. On one night his audience included John Lennon, Eric Clapton, Pete Townshend and Mick Jagger.

The following year his debut album Are You Experienced, which included the tracks Purple Haze and Foxy Lady, made him an international star.

Although most of Hendrix's last years were spent touring, he returned to make London his base in 1968 and the Brook Street house is his only surviving home.

Although many assumed Hendrix knew nothing of the Handel coincidence, he was fascinated to learn of his distinguished predecessor.

[It is the] flat where Jimi Hendrix found inspiration and happiness

He headed off to a shop in nearby South Molton Street to buy music Handel wrote while living there, including Water Music and Messiah. Handel died in 1759 in his bedroom in the house. Hendrix died in 1970, aged 27, in a west London hotel.

His death is believed to have been caused by choking after an accidental drugs overdose. But conspiracy theories abound, with some claiming it was suicide or even foul play.

At Brook Street, the Handel House museum was established in 2001. The Georgian interiors Handel occupied for almost 40 years, paying £60 a year for the entire house, have been meticulously recreated.

But Hendrix's rooms, long since stripped of period detail, had become the offices of the museum staff. When they went on display for a few hours on annual Heritage Open Days, places were booked out instantly, and a one-off exhibition in 2010, marking the 40th anniversary of Hendrix's death, was packed out.

The grant will allow the staff to leave the Hendrix rooms and take up residence permanently in alternative office space.

Wesley Kerr, of the London committee of the Heritage Lottery Fund, said he was delighted the grant would open up another chapter in music history.

"It will make available to visitors the neighbouring flat where Jimi Hendrix, another extraordinary musical émigré from a more recent era, found inspiration and happiness, transcending musical boundaries in the heyday of rock and roll."