One of the best places to check out the sweep of London’s incredible music history is Brook Street in Mayfair, where you’ll find two blue plaques on neighbouring buildings. One commemorates the German composer George Frideric Handel, who adopted London as his home in the eighteenth century and wrote his ‘Messiah’ at 25 Brook Street. The other plaque, at Number 23, was put the first ever dedicated to a pop star: Jimi Hendrix.
George ’n’ Jimi were neighbours 240 years apart, and although the Handel House Museum has occupied the building for decades, until now there’s been nowhere for Hendrix fans to pay homage. That will all change in February, when the museum plans to reopen after major works with a new name: Handel & Hendrix in London.
Hendrix moved in to the third-floor flat on July 4 1968 with his girlfriend Kathy Etchingham, paying £30 a week (£487 in today’s money – not bad for Mayfair). From February, visitors will be able to see inside his living room and bedroom (previously used as offices) for the first time in their original state. With the help of archive photographs and film, plus the memories of Etchingham and some of the many visitors to the flat, it’s been restored to how it looked in the ’60s. The singer wrote some of his most loved riffs and songs there on an acoustic guitar, which will be on display in a new permanent exhibition alongside photos of Hendrix at home in 1968 and 1969. It’ll be a whole new look at the acid-fuelled art scene that brought Hendrix to London, and you’ll even discover some new connections between the two musical geniuses who lived on the site: apparently an LP copy of Handel’s ‘Messiah’ was one of Hendrix’s favourite records.
Handel & Hendrix in London opens on February 10 2016. Booking opens on Monday November 2 at www.handelhendrix.org.
Check out some incredible photos of Jimi Hendrix in London too.