I’ve posted out of order! Preceding impressions from my August 2019 trip with the St. John the Divine Community Chorale from NY to London, here’s the story of a single residence we found — home to two musical figures, centuries apart. Finding the Handel House / Hendrix Flat is like solving a puzzle. We knew we were close when we saw this message on the tiled wall of a downward-sloping alley: From the summer of 1723 until his death on 14 April 1759 Handel lived and composed many of his greatest works at No 25 Brooks. It stands among other multi-story houses from that era, now occupied by art studios and boutiques.
And here’s the twist. Two hundred years after George Frederick Handel and his harpsichords lived there, another musician moved into the upstairs flat. Now Jimi Hendrix’s room is restored, with a very good exhibit about his brief residency in 1969.
Hendrix and his girlfriend Kathy Etchingham decorated the room in fabrics, spreads and rugs. Based on her memory and many photo sessions that took place in this flat, the bedroom is restored and features a replica left-handed guitar. “Etchingham remembers that this guitar was always on the bed or propped up against the bed so that Hendrix could write songs, noodle away or jam with his guests.”
There are sample covers from his record collection, and a list of his records from Acker Bilk and Albert King through The Beatles, Bill Cosby and Handel himself to Richie Havens, Roland Kirk and Wes Montgomery.
Hendrix also entertained musicians and went out to hear music. The timeline says that in March 1969 “Hendrix goes to [the club] Ronnie Scotts to see Roland Kirk play” … there’s a photo … “and continues to return to the Speakeasy [a neighborhood club] to jam with the likes of The Gods and Billy Preston.”
This was a peak time in Jimi Hendrix’s career. Also a short time — a few months. Hendrix died in London in 1970 at age 27.