Jimi Hendrix’s Home in London Is Open to Visitors

Tucked away on a cobblestone alley off of London’s Brook Street, audiophiles can find the former homes of two major musical talents. But you won’t believe which one had a flair for antiquing.

In 1723, the German composer George Frideric Handel took up residence in a Mayfair flat, where he lived until his death 36 years later. More than 200 years later, a rising rock-and-roll musician, already gaining fame in Europe, moved into the same apartment with his girlfriend. That man was Jimi Hendrix.

Today, Hendrix’s colorful Brook Street bedroom has been faithfully restored as part of the Handel Hendrix in London museum. At one point, Hendrix even claimed that he saw Handel’s ghost – a man in a wig – in the bathroom of the Brook Street flat. In restoring the bedroom, Sean Doherty, the museum’s communications manager, explains, “We used images to find every little bit of detail. Hendrix was really into textiles and antiques.”

According to Kathy Etchingham, Hendrix’s ex-girlfriend who lived with him at the time, the couple perused various London markets to decorate the apartment, including Portobello Road Market antique vendors and famed department store John Lewis. “The idea of Jimi Hendrix shopping on Oxford Street is quite a funny one,” laughs Doherty, but the legendary musician loved the housewares available at the London mainstay.

Another surprising Hendrix weakness? Persian rugs. “They were so into Persian rugs, that they had too many to even fit in the bedroom,” explains Doherty. “They would change them and mix them up.” Eventually, Hendrix’s pension for rugs gave him a reputation among antique dealers, who would seek him out whenever they had new shipments available.

Hendrix and Etchingham sought to give their bedroom an opulent feel, which they did through both the batik silk wall hanging and tasseled shawl behind the bed, which Etchingham describes as “Jimi’s favorite Victorian shawl” in her book, Through Gypsy Eyes. The bedroom also contains a Beogram 1000 turntable like the one Hendrix used to own, complete with a penny taped to the arm to prevent it from skipping. Hendrix’s record collection was recreated with help from Seattle’s Museum of Pop Culture, which also owns a significant portion of the artist’s clothing.

“We know that once he moved into this place, he found out that Handel lived here. He went out to the record shop on South Molton Street, opposite the flat, and bought Handel’s records,” Doherty says. That shop, One Stop Records, was a hot-spot in the ‘60s, with Mick Jagger and the like stopping in to shop. “He would also shop on HMV on Oxford Street.”

One oddity that looks out of place in the tranquil, colorful room is a large dog-like stuffed animal, perched on a chair in the corner of the room. The creature, nicknamed “Dogbear” by Handel Hendrix staff, moved across three different apartments with the star. “There are photos of Hendrix at the time with this life-size thing which a fan had knitted for him at a concert and thrown on stage,” says Doherty. Hendrix liked the stuffed animal and took it home – the couple would even take it to parties.

“It’s a cool room that really fit him,” says Doherty, of the colorful, funk-imbued space. “You can imagine this is Jimi Hendrix’s flat.”

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