Fifty years ago this week, Jimi Hendrix arrived in London with the aim of creating rock 'n' roll history. In celebration of this, here are ten locations linked to the musical legend (brick walls and demolished buildings not included).
A drinking hole frequented by everyone from The Beatles to Stevie Wonder, The Scotch of St James became one of London’s most exclusive venues. On September 24 1966, having touched down from the US that very morning, Hendrix sweet talked his way on stage, turned up the amps and proceeded to shock (and impress) his audience with a unique rendition of 'Wild Thing' by The Troggs.
Beatles drummer Ringo Starr sub-let 34 Montagu Square to Hendrix from December 1966 until March 1967. It became the location where he composed 'The Wind Cries Mary', splashed some paint around during an acid trip and was then evicted.
On October 1 1966, the now University of Westminster played host to Eric Clapton’s band Cream and a then unknown Jimi Hendrix. In 'Clapton: The Autobiography', Eric recalls: 'The song Jimi wanted to play was by Howlin’ Wolf, entitled Killing Floor. I thought it was incredible that he would know how to play this, as it was a tough one to get right. Of course Jimi played it exactly like it ought to be played, and he totally blew me away.'
The Bag O’Nails club was the setting for Jimi Hendrix’s official London debut. Witnessed by a host of musical greats including Pete Townshend (The Who), Eric Clapton (Cream) and Jeff Beck, Hendrix created showmanship, cementing his tradition of playing guitar with his teeth.
A favoured haunt to the end (and his place of residence on his death certificate), The Cumberland was an escape for Hendrix after years of drug abuse, touring and partying. In the words of Keith Altham, a confident of Hendrix’s, for £17 a night it was the perfect for 'meeting various young ladies when he wanted to keep away from the various other young ladies that he was seeing'. Sneaky.
An international ice-skating rockstar, Hendrix found himself trying out the Queensway Ice Rink during an impromptu day off. 'At the rink they had trouble finding a pair of boots big enough for Jimi’s size 11 feet,' recounts ex-girlfriend Kathy Etchingham. 'They managed it eventually and he tucked his flares in and we set off.'
'This is my first real home of my own,' wrote Hendrix of the £30-a-week Mayfair flat he moved into in July 1968. The attic played host to wild parties and late-night jam sessions, earning Hendrix the nickname 'The Bat'. A £2 million pound restoration later, the flat is now a museum, complete with blue plaque – the first to be bestowed upon a rockstar.
Despite the odds, The Troubadour is still going strong after 60 years in business. Warmly welcoming musical greats like Bob Dylan, Paul Simon, The Strokes and (more importantly) Jimi Hendrix to its stage, the venue continues to host live music most nights of the week.
London jazz joint Ronnie Scott’s was the site of Jimi Hendrix’s last ever public appearance on September 16 1970. 'Hendrix made his entrance during the second set. There was a crack in the air… the typical London jazz crowd tried to show indifference as he took the stage, but a ripple of applause greeted the greatest guitar player in the world,' noted Eric Burdon in his autobiography.
10. The Kingston Parakeets, KT1
Although merely a theory, some say the origins of London’s ever-growing parakeet population lie in the hands of Hendrix. Having supposedly freed a pair of the birds on Carnaby Street during the '60s as a symbol of peace, rumour has it that this act established the colony. Whether true or not, London has been besieged by a bird population as noisy as the man himself ever since.Share the story