This Day In London’s History
1709: Samuel Johnson born. When Channel 5 finally get round to making the Top 100 greatest Londoners of all time, the famous dictionary compiler will certainly be in the leading pack. His fame rests as much on the number of bon mots he left the world, as any lexicographical legacy: “Patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel” ; the overworked ‘When a man is tired of London, he is tired of life’; and, appropriately, ‘Every quotation contributes something to the stability or enlargement of the language‘. Top fellow. Raise a glass to his 297th birthday this evening.
1970: Jimi Hendrix dies in Notting Hill. Hendrix would be another sure-fire inclusion in that Top 100. The man often praised as the greatest electric guitarist of all time made his name in the London music scene. The circumstances surrounding his death, aged just 27, remain slightly mysterious. The official version is that he asphyxiated on his own vomit after taking too many sleeping pills. Rock and roll.
London fact of the week
On the face of it, Johnson and Hendrix would seem to have little in common. But here’s how to link them in four steps.
1. Samuel Johnson was played by Robbie Coltrane in Blackadder III.
2. Coltrane also starred in James Bond flick ‘Goleneye’.
3. The theme tune of which was sang by Tina Turner.
4. Who toured with Jimi Hendrix in the mid-1960s.
Can anyone do it in fewer?
London Person of the Week
The award goes to the BBC London News team, for putting together the ultimate barrel scrape: Is this the way to Al-Jazeera?
One thing you must do in London this week
While we’re at it, there’s another connection between Hendrix and the cream of the 18th Century. The late guitarist once lived on Brook Street, Mayfair, next door to an address previously occupied by watery composer George Handel. The two musicians are now celebrated at the little-known Handel House Museum (23-35 Brook Street).