Hendrix and Handel

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“Separated by a wall and 200 years are the homes of two musicians who chose London and changed music” reads the pamphlet presented to us as we walk into the back entrance of 25 Brook Street,Mayfair. Central London. Its’s true, George Fredric Handel, the Baroque composer, took up residence at the building in 1723 and Jimi Hendrix moved into 23 Brook Street in 1968. Though by that time, Handel wasn’t living next door!

Handel museum harpsichord

Handel museum harpsichord

The first two floors are made up of a number of rooms filled with Handel memorabilia. A composition room with books of manuscript exampling different works from Handel’s life and time in London. His bedroom, adorned with paintings (he was apparently an avid collector) with a luxurious bed better made than mine has ever been! My favourite part though was the concert room, which houses a Harpsichord. An early keyboard instrument and ancestor of the Piano, the harpsichord has small plectrums which pick the strings instead of hammers. They were always beautifully painted and this one was no exception. It’s got a very distinctive sound with the potential to sound very jolly and bright on the top notes and dark and haunting with low chords.

Hendrix guitar fragment

Hendrix guitar fragment, Hendrix Museum London

Up a set of creaky and uneven stairs, you’re then transported from the 1700’s to the Swinging 60’s of London. A fair sized flat which Jimi Hendrix and his girlfriend called home in the late 60’s. It’s now covered in pictures, quotes and video screens. There are lists of Hendrix’s personal LP collection (Which included some Handel!) and the dates of a lot of Jimi’s tour dates. There was even a piece of a guitar which Jimi had smashed up at the end of a gig (pictured above). Rock n Roll! Through a doorway was our second bedroom of the day. A faithful recreation of a fairly messy (that’s more like it!) Jimi’s room. Complete with a low double bed, old rotary telephones, record player, old 60’s rugs and countless ashtrays filled with cigarette butts. We then boarded a real old London Routemaster bus from 1965 which drove us towards West London whilst blasting Hendrix all the way. On the way we passed his last registered address and the Hotel in where he died!

Marky Dawson and the Swinging 60 Bus Hendrix Tour

Marky Dawson and the Swinging 60 Bus Hendrix Tour

We finished the tour at The Troubadour, a historic venue in Earls’s court where we were treated to a set of Jimi Hendrix songs virtuosically performed by Kaleb McKane. One helluva guitarist!

Kaleb McCabe at the Troubadour as Hendrix

Kaleb McKane at the Troubadour as Hendrix

Overall, this was a great day out. It appealed to both ends of my musical taste. We studied Handel quite a lot in Music College and I even sang in ‘The Messiah’ one Christmas. And the hard edge of rock’n’roll too. I wonder if my flat will be made into a museum one day.

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