Jimi Hendrix Tour

Seattle, WA

May 2007

By Cheryl
(SugarBuzz Seattle)

SugarBuzz Magazine

“It's funny how most people love the dead, once you're dead
you’re made for life.” Jimi Hendrix

Wikipedia.com describes a pilgrimage as “a long journey or search of great moral significance. Sometimes, it is a journey to a sacred place or shrine of importance to a person's beliefs and faith.”

For a legion of music fans, rock-n-roll is their religion while a chosen few, talented musicians rise above to diety status. Here in Seattle, a perfectly good Sunday can be spent in worship of hometown rock-god, Jimi Hendrix. Follow along on the journey to celebrate this divine guitar virtuoso.

Jimi’s House (listen to: "Red House”)

Johnny Allen Hendrix (later re-named James Marshall Hendrix) was born on November 27, 1942 in Seattle. The house where Jimi lived from age 12 to 15 was once located in the somewhat sketchy Central District.

After a couple of moves and squabble between the City of Seattle and the Hendrix family and foundation, the now dilapitated house was deposited smack in the middle of a three-acre trailer park in Renton, across the street from the site of Jimi’s grave. This is not the modern modular home park of recent retirees; the trailers here date back to 1972 and may house meth labs.

A tarped, chain-link fence surround Jimi’s modest former dwelling while water-logged partical board covers most windows. Unless you know what you are looking for, you’d drive right on past it. I did, twice.

Garfiled High School: (listen to – “Highway Chile”)

Jimi attended Seattle’s Garfield High School, joining the ranks of other former students, Quincy Jones and Ernestine Anderson. Once claiming that he was kicked out of school for holding hands with his white girlfriend, the truth is that Jimi rarely attended, got bad grades (to include an F in 9th grade music class) and flunked out at 17.

EMP Museum (listen to: the entire “Woodstock” album)

His passion for Jimi Hendrix music inspired Microsoft gabillionaire, Paul Allen, to squirrel away the world's largest collection of Hendrix memorabilia. Paul wanted to share his collection with the public and enlisted legendary architect, Frank O. Gehry to design and build a state-of-the art museum which is home to a world class collection of more than 80,000 music artifacts. The building is an abstract representation of a smashed guitar which caused many a coffee-jittered Seattleite to pitch a fit about for a while. They got over it… eventually.

Check out the Jimi Hendrix Gallery to see live concert footage, photos, letters, clothing and guitars, to include a fragment from the burned and smashed strat from Monterey. You may also dig the interactive jam rooms and live concert simulator upstairs.

Statue (listen to: "Purple Haze”)

On the NE corner of Broadway and Pine of Capitol Hill stands a life-size, bronze statue of Jimi playing a stratocater, titled, “The Electric Lady Studio Guitar. Jimi exudes soul and rock while he shouts at the sky titled. Michael Malone, founder of the former AEI Music Network Inc. (now DMX Music) commissioned artist Daryl Smith in 1997 because he owns one of Hendrix's guitars.

You’ll see the occasional adornment or tourist here while skaters and hipsters roll by. Take a pic leaning into Jimi’s cheek and title it “Scuse Me While I Kiss This Guy”.

Memorial Rock at Woodland Park Zoo (listen to: “Third Stone”)

Marking Jimi’s 60th birthday, a commemorative rock in Jimi’s honor was established in the African Savana exhibit at the Woodland Park Zoo. The City of Seattle and a handfull of residents have a history of wussing out when someone complains that the they shouldn’t glorify someone who used illegal drugs. Their compromise to establish a rock at the zoo is, well, embarrasing. The City claims there is no connection to racism. Ahem.

Now, don’t make a special trip to the zoo JUST for the Jimi rock, but if you’re there to see the hippos, check out the rock.

Jimi Hendrix Park (listen to: “If 6 was 9” )

The City of Seattle decided in 2006 to dedicate a park adjacent to the future site of the Northwest African American Museum in the Central Area. Basically, they tore up a parking lot and planted grass. It’s disappointing. Hopefully, additional phases to the project will come with the completion of the museum. Schedule your visit till anytime after December, 2007.

Grave @ Greenwood Memorial Park (song: “Angel”)

In 1997, I met some guy in the bar of the Showbox while stuffing a lime down the narrow neck of my ice cold Corona. I have no idea what show I was there to see, but I do recall we soon stumbled upon the topic of Jimi Hendrix. After a few more Coronas and banter, it seemed perfectly logical to take him up on his invitation to visit Jimi’s grave when the bar closed down. So what if this guy would be defined by my mother as a “complete stranger” - we were both disciples of Jimi.

The cemetary was pitch black and cold. I recall the stranger taking my hand and leading me through a dusting of snow, three graves down from the sundial. There we stood in awed silence of Jimi’s modest rectangular, flat tombstone in the glow of headlights as “Voodoo Child” blasted from his soft-top Jeep Wrangler.

Fast forward to 2007… The once modest tombstone has since been moved (double top secret exhuming event on November 26, 2002) and upgraded by Jimi’s father, Al and family, to an impressive dome of granite held by three pillars surrounded by over 50 family plots. Jimi’s autograph is engraved near the base of the pillars. There are plans to install a brass statue in the headstone… but currently, there is just a hole in the granite where fans and followers write notes to Jimi. I was so tempted to pick out one of these notes and take a peek inside, but I figured doing so could bring on some bad karma. I let them be.

Tip for grave rubbing: don’t bother with butcher paper and a crayon. Go get some very thin paper or velum and rubbing wax or charcoal. You may be able to sell your work to fans for a few bucks whilst you rub. Unlike Jim Morrison’s grave, this is no party scene, and thus, no graveyard security nazis watching your every move.

While there may not be a Graceland equivalent in Seattle for Jimi disciples, there are numerous sites, from daedal to decay, to regard with devotion. What survives the test of time, politics and family tangle is the musical mark he left on the world.

Punctuate your pilgrimage in reflection of the words Jimi Hendrix penned on the night of his death: “The story of life is quicker than the wink an eye. The story of love is hello and goodbye. Until we meet again.”





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