August 24, 2010 / 1:43 PM / 9 years ago

UK show explores Hendrix's links to Handel

LONDON (Reuters) - The Handel House Museum in London is a permanent celebration of the 18th century German-born composer’s life and times, but this week honors another legendary musician linked to the site — Jimi Hendrix.

Martin Wyatt, Deputy Director of the Handel House Museum poses for photographers with a hat which belonged to Jimi Hendrix, during an exhibition to mark the 40th anniversary of his death, held in the flat the musician shared with his girlfriend Kathy Etchingham in London August 24, 2010. REUTERS/Paul Hackett

From August 25 to November 7, period instruments and manuscripts of George Handel’s works will be displayed alongside an electric guitar, velvet jacket and handwritten lyrics by Hendrix, who died in London 40 years ago.

The U.S. guitar legend moved into the top floor flat of 23 Brook Street with his English girlfriend Kathy Etchingham, and it became his home in 1968 and 1969 while he played venues across town and enhanced his international reputation.

Handel moved into what is now 25 Brook Street in 1723, lived there for 36 years and died in the property in 1759.

According to Etchingham in her book “Through Gypsy Eyes,” Hendrix was well aware that Handel had lived next door.

“Not only were they both musicians, they had both come to England from their own countries in order to find recognition and build international careers,” she wrote.

Sarah Bardwell, director of Handel House Museum, said she had always wanted to put on an exhibition dedicated to Hendrix, and the 40th anniversary of his death, which falls on September 18, was a good reason to try.

“Obviously we mustn’t upset either the Handel or the Hendrix fans, but there are brilliant people who love both,” she said at a press preview of the show.


The small flat where Hendrix lived, which now serves as the museum’s administrative office, will be cleared from September 15-26 to allow the public to visit.

“It is very fitting that Handel House will now be the venue for a celebration of Jimi’s life, as he considered our Brook Street flat his true London home,” Etchingham said.

“The flat was the ideal place for us — at the heart of London at a time when the city was the center of the music world — but we were still somehow able to spend very relaxed days there, away from the limelight,” she added in a statement.

Hendrix’s habit of keeping the curtains drawn in the property was one reason his co-musicians dubbed him “the bat,” organizers said.

He and Etchingham rented the property for 30 pounds ($46) a week, which organizers said was a large amount in the late 1960s. Hendrix and Etchingham had split up by the time of his death in another area of London aged 27.

Among the items borrowed from Hendrix collections for the show is a custom Gibson Flying V guitar commissioned by Hendrix in 1969, known by him as the “Flying Angel” and played at the Isle of Wight Festival in 1970.

The exhibition also features a sketched self-portrait, and on the reverse side of hotel notepaper are his handwritten lyrics to the song “Love or Confusion.”

Editing by Steve Addison.

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