On July 4th 1968 Hendrix and girlfriend Kathy Etchingham moved into 23 Brook St. a one bedroom flat that boasted a kitchen and mod pink bathroom located in London’s Mayfair district costing only £30 a week. Having an estate agent on the first floor and a photography studio on the 2nd meant it was the perfect spot for Jimi to live his Rock N Roll lifestyle as there were no neighbours to complain of noise.
Although Hendrix would only stay here until April 1969 it was the first and only place he would consider home. His day would usually begin in the evening with food being brought up from the Mr. Love restaurant located on the ground floor. Reportedly steak and chips, a bottle of Mateus rosé, and 20 cigarettes was usually ordered. The couple would then head to a jam session at the Speakeasy Club and return to the small flat with a crowd of friends and strangers to continue the evening into the early morning.
A mix of people ranging from groupies to famous musicians would be present at their parties, often they were so intoxicated that they could not navigate the steep stairs leading to the apartment. Keith Richard, Keith Moon, Hendrix’s bass player Noel Redding and Chris Wood of Traffic, are some of the well known people alleged to have fallen down the now preserved staircase.
23 Brook St was not just a party flat, it was also where Jimi would write songs and rehearse. He gave many interviews here and also prepared for upcoming concerts. They had 2 phone lines installed, one for business and one for personal use, however Jimi gave both numbers out to everyone and the phones never stopped ringing. Here he felt he could escape his fame and the couple created a space well suited to them. They were often spotted at the John Lewis department store where they picked out most of the furnishings for the flat including the carpet and curtains. They also spent time going to antique markets like Portobello to acquire unique pieces for the flat. Kathy has also said that Hendrix’ experience in the army meant he kept the flat extremely tidy and the bed was always made with hospital corners and all the cushions were squared.
“…we reveled in having our own little place … We were able to be like any other young couple, watching Coronation Street together and drinking milky tea rather than scotch and coke.”
- Kathy Etchingham.
Jimi and Kathy went their separate ways in 1969 and Kathy stayed on in the flat. Eventually the apartment was turned into private offices and it wasn’t until 1997 that the building was given a blue plaque commemorating Jimi’s life here. After much public interest a portion of the flat was restored as authentically as possible and opened to the public earlier this year.