A permanent exhibition to Jimi Hendrix has opened at his former home in Mayfair. The third-floor flat at 23 Brook Street was home to Hendrix and his partner Kathy Etchingham from 1968-69.
In a curious musical connection, the guitarist lived beside the house once occupied by George Frederic Handel. Their twin plaques can be spied from Brook Street.
Separated by 200 years but only a few inches of mortar, the pair are now jointly celebrated at the Handel & Hendrix in London attraction. The Handel House Museum had been open to the public for several years but now, with the aid of a Heritage Lottery Fund grant, Jimi's flat has been brought into the fold.
Visitors are first treated to a small exhibition space, which tells the story of Hendrix's time in London. His Epiphone FT79 acoustic stands in pride of place. Etchingham says it was "always within arm's reach, usually beside the bed and, invariably, played at raucous parties".
A side room recreates his record collection, giving a glimpse into the bands and artists who influenced his short-lived career.
But the jewel is the artist's living room (which doubled as a bedroom), recreated to give a glimpse of the domestic life of Jimi and Kathy. It's not the rock-and-roll palace you might imagine — more a cramped bedsit, peppered with everyday items. A cheap electric fire huddles in a conclave with antiquated phones. On the bedside table, a pack of Benson & Hedges lurks beside a bottle of Mateus Rose — wine of choice for Hendrix and Etchingham. A pot of tea brews on the floor. Jimi was a white-and-two-sugars man.
It all stands in contrast with the Handel rooms next door — a suite of stately spaces occupied mostly by harpsichords. The combined museum gives a unique glimpse into the Mayfair lives of two super-famous musicians, both at the top of their games while living here, but swimming in utterly different circles. There can't be another museum quite like it anywhere in the world.
On the way out, we spot a photo of George Harrison paying a visit to Brook Street. Hendrix, Handel, Harrison, harpsichords... if, for some reason, you're embarking on an alphabetical tour of London music, this place has H well and truly covered.
Handel & Hendrix in London open from 10 February 2016, 25 Brook Street (entrance Lancashire Court), Mayfair, W1K 4HB. Monday-Saturday, 11am-6pm; Sunday noon-6pm. £10/£5. Look out for the programme of live music at the house.