He could have returned any moment for all I knew. The bedroom where he would practise on that same guitar he’d bought for a few dollars (still there displayed in a glass case), the rugs he’d brought back from his trip to Morocco, his monopoly set, his two telephones, always ringing for him…. It seemed just as if the room had been photographed with him there when he declared it had been the first time he’d had his own house. Yet the place had just been opened to the public last week and the greatest rock guitarist the world has ever known had been dead for almost fifty years.
His record collection, vinyl of course, was there. The three studio albums including the greatest double album in rock history released the same year I’d gone with a girl friend to hear him live at knebworth on his only British date for that year (I still have her school scarf, she may still have mine) – it was truly a time warp back to London’s swinging sixties.
Two neighbours separated by a wall and two hundred years yet with unexpected similarities.. Both hailed from foreign countries and revolutionised music in Britain. Both were idolized by their fans. Both caused factions to arise and arguments to ensue regarding their compositions.Both used inventive ground bases, riffs, unheard of sound effects and both were essentially generous souls who loved playing for the public but, at the same time, held preciously to their private lives.
The Handel Hendrix house in London’s west end is a great unifier in the world of music lovers. The only divisions to be made are those between bad and good music and the great guitarist was fascinated to realize that he lived next door in history to another great instrumentalist, this time on the organ.
Indeed, among his record collection are two well worn recordings of the Messiah and Alexander’s feast.
1970 was a year of terrible losses for the music world, especially rock. Janis Joplin, Jim Morrison and Jimi Hendrix all left us, as indeed this year further losses like the iconic David Bowie have returned to the planets from whence they fell to earth.
But music is a manifestation of eternity and our visit yesterday to the Handel,and now Hendrix too, museum was a moving example of this beautiful truth..a great highlight in a city full of highlights!