The 60s Official Site



Jimi Hendrix: The British Experience

by David Soulsby 


Jimi Hendrix: The British ExperienceTake a slow stroll away from the American Embassy in London’s plush Grosvenor Square, make your way along Brook Street towards Oxford Street, and you’ll pass a row of fashionable Mayfair town houses where a blue plaque above a shop front might catch your eye.

Study the English Heritage plaque and the name of the man being honoured as a past resident might surprise you: it’s none other than Jimi Hendrix, regarded by many – myself included – as the greatest rock guitarist ever.

The Seattle-born Hendrix lived in the top-floor flat at number 23 Brook Street between 1968/69, and would have been seen regularly on the streets in around the capital city’s Mayfair, Soho and West End areas, wild-haired and dressed in his trademark colourful clothes. Many of London’s leading clubs and rock venues were situated here and Hendrix played at most of them, often trying out one his latest compositions for audiences that regularly boasted fellow rock stars such as Eric Clapton, Pete Townshend and Paul McCartney.

Hendrix certainly cut a dashing figure when out and about, but always seemed unfazed by the attention of passers-by. He was just going about his business — and that was the business of producing some of the best music that came out of the Sixties. And more than 40 years on, his influence and legacy live on.

So to celebrate and pay a fitting tribute to the left-handed guitar maestro who died in September 1970, the Handel House Museum, which occupies the Brook Street site where the great German composer George Fridric Handel lived in the 1700s, has held a Hendrix In Britain exhibition and tour of his flat. How fitting, I think, that Hendrix should have lived where another creative giant — albeit from a far different era and genre — produced such a legacy of important music. Indeed, Hendrix was so taken with the Handel connection that he visited a local record store and bought several Handel albums, played them, and became a fan.

Items on show included the guitar Hendrix used on the brilliant Red House, several extravagant stage costumes, the famous Westerner hat, a copy of his death certificate, concert memorabilia and a revealing selection of photos, including one that particularly caught my eye.

The photo in question was taken backstage at a concert in England when Hendrix shared the bill with headliners The Walker Brothers, plus Cat Stevens and special guest star Engelbert Humperdinck. The image says a lot — Hendrix is seated with his guitar laid across his legs, his eyes not looking directly at the cameraman but slightly down as if just a little timid, not wanting to steal the limelight, while singer Cat Stevens and Gary Leeds of The Walker Brothers are looking intently at him, one could say almost in awe. Humperdinck is the only one of the quartet with eyes for the camera, apparently unaware of the three men by his side.

The exhibition, which opened in August and ends this November, has drawn Hendrix devotees from not only Britain but from all over the world, not least from America, where a glance through the visitors book reveals poignant comments and heart-felt tributes from visitors from all parts of the States.

My own contribution says simply: ‘A fitting tribute to a great guitar genius.’ Not particularly original I know, but often the simple, direct words are the best. The word genius is a much over-used accolade but Hendrix fully deserves it — he indeed had, as the dictionary defines it, ‘an exceptional natural ability’.

But there was much more to Hendrix than just being a superb musician and musical innovator. To me, he was a complex human being. He was full of contradictions. He was flamboyant, yet surprisingly shy. Much of his music was raw and loud, yet at the same time melodic and uplifting.

On stage he did things that often shocked and even offended some people, yet away from the razzmatazz and frenzy of performing he was polite, charming and softly spoken. He appeared in control of what he was doing, but there was always in the background a feeling that he was continually searching for something new and different. He broke down musical and race barriers, and if he’d survived you can only guess at what he would have gone on to achieve. He would be 68 this November 27 — if only!

Hendrix himself said "I have plans that are unbelievable but then wanting to be a guitar player seemed unbelievable at one time.’ I think he would have gone to even greater heights. His standing among his guitar contemporaries was immense, and still stands the test of time, and his fans appear to be as loyal and respectful today as they were in the Sixties. And new young fans joining the ranks all the time add to his magnetic appeal.

To me, it doesn’t seem like 44 years ago that Hendrix arrived in England (thanks to the astute Chas Chandler of The Animals) but one, alas, can’t deny the passage of time. Hendrix emerged like an exciting, invigorating breath of fresh air. And along with fellow Experience band-mates Noel Redding and Mitch Mitchell set the music scene alight — literally, as Hendrix often burnt his guitars on stage. It was pure showmanship, yes, but it was just an addition to the brilliance of his musical talent.

British musicians had been invading America in droves in the Sixties and taking it by storm. It seemed a little unfair of us Brits to have such a monopoly, so it was perhaps only right that the balance should be redressed by a then-unknown America performer who came, saw and quickly conquered the UK. Hendrix did that, and then returned to his homeland to stamp his mark for ever, his appearances at the Monterey Pop Festival in 1967 and Woodstock in 1969 among the most breathtaking in the history of live music.

Surprisingly, it took many years for Hendrix to earn the music industry praise due to him — it was 1992 before the Jimi Hendrix Experience were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and another 13 years before gaining recognition in the UK Music Hall of Fame. Still, better late then never.

I remember when I first heard Hendrix play. It was like hearing a conversation and wanting to be part of it. That might sound odd, but that’s how I felt. I’m glad to say that I have continued to listen to the conversation and still want to be part of it.

Carry on kissing the sky, Jimi.



David Soulsby

About the Author:

David Soulsby lives in Romford, Essex, England, and is now retired after 46 years as a journalist. During his career, he worked on local and national newspapers and magazines, and in the Sixties met many of his musical heroes, including Johnny Cash, Bob Dylan, Roy Orbison, Sonny Boy Williamson, James Brown and Mel Torme. He’s now freelancing as a writer and proof-reader, working from home. He’s the author of Somewhere In The Distance, a novel about four friends growing up in the Sixties.



Purchase David's book "Somewhere in the Distance"Somewhere in the Distance



Your Daily Oldies Fix


An Enlightening Quiche, a novel by Eva Pasco


Hullabaloo! Dave Hull


My Summer on Haight Street by Robert Rice Jr.


Inside Songs of the Sixties by Brian Forsythe 

Culinary Tributeto the Beatles 


The 60s - Carl - 1968 - Vietnam

 Vietnam -1968

The 60s - Webmaster - 2006


Altamont AugieEva Pasco's Book


Somewhere in the Distance by David Soulsby 

The Isla Vista Crucible


Read my Blog

 Franchise Trees

40th Anniversary of Woodstock

Vibration of a Nation Video 

Sign the Guestbook 



Go to The 60s Official Site Jukebox






Updates and New Content
My Home Town - Circleville Ohio
My Jade East Adventure
The 60s Tradition of Eating Together as a Family
The Blown Perfect Game
The Great Pumpkin Caper
The Haunted Bridge Near Yellowbud
Union Street Beat
Union Street Peeping Toms
What Ever Happened to The Cool Jocks?
Top Ten Countdown
The Sixties With Eva Pasco
David Soulsby Reflections
Ask Big Dog
Things You Just Don't Hear Anymore
1960s Candy
60s Articles - Baby Boomers
60s Fads & Fashions
60s Music A Decade of Great Music
60s Songs That Peaked on the Charts in 1970
Grammy Award Winners
Our Music, Our Times, Remember When?
The 60s Craziest Songs
The Top 100 Recording Artists of the 50s and 60s Era
Webmaster's Pick of the Top 100 Songs of the Decade
60s Rock 'N Roll Headline News
A Story of Life - A Thousand Marbles
60s Slang- Do You Remember These?
A Tribute to Elvis
Elvis Presley's Top Recordings
Stories About Elvis Presley
Baby Boomer Cities
British Music Invasion
British Top Hits of the 1960s
Chickenman Has Been Identified
Class Reunion Tips
Dance Crazes of the 60s
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s "I Have a Dream Speech"
Drive-In Theater Memories
Flashback Time Capsule High School Years
Great TV Commercial Jingles
Living in Black and White
Moms Cookbook
Movies of the 60s
Quotes of the Baby Boomer Generation
Remembering Valentine's Day
Previous Spotlighted Artists
Vikki Carr
Bob Dylan
Lovin' Spoonful
Rhythm and Blues Music of the 1960s
Rock 'N Roll Hall of Fame
Route 66 - The Mother Road
Summer of Love
Television in the 60s
The Economy and Prices
The Headlines and Key Facts of the 1960s
The Pickle Jar
The Top Ten Songs on this Day
The Vietnam War - The War that Changed a Generation
Medal of Honor Soldiers
Music Favorites from 'Nam
My Tour Pics of Vietnam
Pictures From The Vietnam War
Tet Offensive - An Explanation
Vietnam War Myths
Vietnam War Time Line
Today in Baby Boomer History
Top DJs of the 60s
Toys and Games
Whatever Happened to
Woodstock Rock Festival

 Your Daily Oldies Fix


 My Blog


Go to The 60s Official Site Jukebox

Sign the Guestbook