23 Brook Street:

Handeling The Facts...

The classical composer George Frederic Handel lived in Mayfair, London, at number 25 Brook Street for 36 years until his death in 1759. He wrote one of his best-known works there, the “Messiah”. Mind you, he was also into plundering the work of others and used them (uncredited) for several of his own scores. Harold Schonberg says in his book the Lives Of The Great Composers that “bluntly Handel was a plagiarist.” Ouch!

Anyway, in early 1969 Jimi Hendrix had sent Kathy Etchingham out to get him a few Handel LPs for his record collection, so surely the guy must be okay?

“I like Handel and Bach. Handel and Bach is like a homework type of thing. You can’t hear it with friends all the time. You have to hear some things by yourself...”
Jimi Hendrix

Jimi Hendrix also lived in Brook Street, at
number 23. How long? Well, according to the blue plaque outside (see photo) two long years: “1968-1969.” F-a-l-s-e!

The facts (glanced from stamps in Jimi’s passport pages, so indisputable):

Jimi moved in on 3 January 1969 and moved out on 12 March 1969. To deduct: the days Jimi was out of town or country touring. What do we end up with?
Jimi spent a total of 49 days at 23 Brook Street. And from those 49 days we should really also deduct the nights he went out for jams, parties, etc. But hey that would be nitpicking.

On 10 January 1969 Trixie Sullivan, the secretary of Michael Jeffery, wrote a letter to her boss:

“Jimi is happy at the moment and in fact has not been out since his return [on 2 January 1969] from America, except to go shopping. He arrived and instead of going to the hotel he went to the flat [at 23 Brook Street] as he says “to pick up some clothes” but I think he wanted to see how the land was lying. It seems that Kathy [Etchingham] cooked a meal for him, and I know she cleaned the flat so thoroughly just before he arrived, that he decided to stay. Kathy says he goes to bed at 11.30 and gets up every morning at 10.30 and looks better then he has ever done. He’s buying new curtains and carpet for the flat and domestication seems to suit him for the moment. You never know how long it will last...”

Indeedy! Hendrix broke off the rocky relationship with Etchingham and he flew out to America on 13 March 1969 for yet another lengthy concert tour. In fact, Jimi Hendrix would never ever again set a foot in 23 Brook Street. [Note: Etchingham sold Jimi's flat belongings off at various auctions over the years...]

It’s now 2015 and the British Heritage blue plaque outside number 23 still claims that Jimi Hendrix lived there in “1968-1969”…

As photographer Bruce Fleming (who took the famous AYE cape shots on the cover of first JHE LP) once said:
“Jimi thought that telling the truth was a better deal than telling lies...”

Chew on that “history re-writers”!