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How London Redefined Jimi Hendrix

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courtesy of Experience Music Project

Jimi Hendrix may be one of Seattle’s most famous musical sons, but the legendary guitarist really made his name after he left home. A new show at the Experience Music Project, “Hear My Train A Comin': Hendrix Hits London,” argues that while Jimi Hendrix had a solid musical career in the United States, it wasn’t until he arrived in London in 1966 that he became the rock icon we remember.

EMP Senior Curator Jacob McMurray, who organized the exhibit, says London was the epicenter of music and youth culture when Jimi Hendrix arrived there. The British bands he encountered, bands like the Animals and the Rolling Stones, were infatuated with American blues music. They welcomed Hendrix and helped to promote his new band, the Jimi Hendrix Experience. According to McMurray, the Experience started out backing up more well-known acts. By the time Hendrix returned to the states in 1967 to play at the Monterey Pop Festival, the Jimi Hendrix Experience drew its own fans.

The EMP show includes more than 100 objects, from shattered guitars to some of the Sergeant Pepper-style mod clothing that Hendrix bought and wore around town. McMurray says the EMP actually owns more than 5,000 Hendrix-related artifacts. He says that’s one reason why Seattle and Hendrix are so closely associated. But the connection transcends the museum.

While Jimi Hendrix only played in Seattle a handful of times after he left home at age 17, his family stayed here, and Hendrix is buried in a local cemetery. His music may belong to the world, but at least a piece of his heart stayed home in Seattle.

VIDEO: "Hey Joe" performed by Jimi Hendrix Experience

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