The London apartment where Jimi Hendrix lived more than 45 years ago has opened to the public, restored to look just how the rock star used it.
Hendrix moved into the apartment on the upper floors of 23 Brook Street - next to the house composer George Frideric Handel lived in centuries earlier - in July 1968 after his girlfriend Kathy Etchingham saw it advertised in a newspaper.Hendrix, who died in 1970 aged 27, wrote music, rehearsed and gave interviews there. He told Etchingham it was his "first real home of my own" and decorated the place himself with bright curtains, cushions and lots of ornaments.In London's upmarket Mayfair neighborhood, it has undergone a two-year, 2.4 million pound ($3.5 million) restoration and is now part of the "Handel & Hendrix in London" heritage site celebrating the two musicians.
With rugs on the floor, hangings on the walls, old records and newspapers on display as well as a guitar lying on a colorful bed spread, the apartment is a trip back in time for Etchingham.
"Well it's quite strange ... 45 years on to be sitting in the same room you were sitting in when you were 22 years old but it's very much as it was," she told Reuters during a visit to the apartment.
"I don't feel emotional about it, I just feel ... it's a job well done and it's something that people wouldn't normally have got to see, they can now see it ... For me, this is like stepping back 45 years or more."
Hendrix lived in the apartment for several periods in 1968 and 1969. In March 1969 he went to New York while Etchingham stayed on at the apartment for a while. It later served as office space before the Handel House Trust took it over in 2000.
Handel lived next door for 36 years and wrote works, including "Messiah", there. He died at his home in 1759.
Brought to London by manager Chas Chandler in September 1966, Jimi Hendrix quickly established a reputation as a spectacular live performer, based on an intensive period of playing in London clubs, as well as venues across the UK, often delivering more than one set per night. The success of his first two single releases, Hey Joe (December 1966) and Purple Haze (March 1967), and his first album with the Jimi Hendrix Experience, Are You Experienced? (May 1967), coupled with the reputation established by his UK shows, led to fame; ensuring that when he returned to play shows in the USA, only nine months after he had arrived in London, he was already a European star. After spending much of 1968 recording and touring in the USA, Hendrix returned to London, moving into an upstairs flat in 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 on Oxford Street. For Hendrix, Brook Street was the doorstep to the London music scene of the late 60s. For the next three months Hendrix used the flat as his base, giving interviews there, writing new songs, and preparing for his February concerts at the Royal Albert Hall. On learning that Handel used to live next door he went with Kathy to the One Stop Record Shop in South Molton Street and bought some classical albums – including Handel’s Messiah and Water Music.
For Hendrix, Brook Street was the doorstep to the London music scene of the late 60s. His flat was a short stroll from legendary venues like the Marquee, the Speakeasy and The Scotch of St James and he would spend many evenings wandering from club to club looking for a chance to play.
On 14 September 1997, 23 Brook Street was chosen for an English Heritage Blue Plaque commemorating his life and work. It is the only officially recognized Hendrix residence in the world.
Handel House opened in November 2001 and the Hendrix Flat opened permanently in February 2016.