Jimi Hendrix's London flat is now open to visitors
Hendrix’s colorful Brook Street bedroom has been faithfully restored as part of the Handel & Hendrix in London museum
In a cobblestone alley off of London’s Brook Street, audiophiles can find the former homes of two major musical talents. In the year 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, who was gaining fame in Europe, moved into the same apartment with his girlfriend. That man was Jimi Hendrix.
Currently, Hendrix’s colorful Brook Street bedroom has been faithfully restored as part of the Handel & Hendrix in London museum. While restoring Hendrix's bedroom, the museum’s communications manager, Sean Doherty, explained, "We used images to find every little bit of detail. Hendrix was really into textiles and antiques."
Kathy Etchingham, Hendrix's ex-girlfriend who lived with him at the time, shared that the couple pursued various London markets including Portobello Road Market antique vendors and famed department store John Lewis in order to decorate the apartment.
"The idea of Jimi Hendrix shopping on Oxford Street is quite a funny one," Doherty said jokingly, but it is true that the legendary musician and icon loved the housewares available at the London mainstay. Surprisingly, Hendrix also had a weakness for Persian rugs. "They were so into Persian rugs, that they had too many to even fit in the bedroom. They would change them and mix them up."
Eventually, Hendrix’s passion and love for rugs gave him a reputation among antique dealers in London, who would look to seek him out whenever they had new shipments available.
Hendrix and Etchingham attempted to give their bedroom an opulent feel which they were able to do through both the batik silk wall hanging and tasseled shawl behind the bed. In Etchingham's book, Through Gypsy Eyes, she describes it as "Jimi’s favorite Victorian shawl".
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.
Doherty added: "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. He would also shop on HMV on Oxford Street."
The 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."
Hendrix even claimed that he saw Handel’s ghost—a man in a wig—in the bathroom of the Brook Street flat.