Set in neighbouring Mayfair properties, the homes of Hendrix and Handel are open to view. Compare the musicians’ living styles in the heart of London.
Alliteration aside, nothing seems to connect Handel and Hendrix apart from a mastery of their trade. Yet both these iconic musicians lived in Mayfair properties that are next to each other; unlikely neighbours who were separated by two centuries. Handel & Hendrix in London presents the opportunity to visit George Frideric Handel’s home and Jimi Hendrix’s apartment on Brook Street, and highlights many differences, and some unlikely parallels, between the living styles of the two virtuosos.
In the summer of 1723, Handel moved to 25 Brook Street, after being appointed at the Chapel Royal. His home was on the doorstep of the musical and artistic communities of Soho and Covent Garden, yet it was also near enough to St James’ Palace for Handel to perform his courtly duties. They say that walls have ears; this being true, those of Handel’s parlour would have been regularly delighted by rehearsals. Aged 74, the artist died in his London home on 14 April 1759, ignorant of all things rock ‘n’ roll.
However, 200 years later, Hendrix described the apartment that he inhabited at 23 Brook Street as his first real home of his own. There is no doubt that some will be surprised to learn Hendrix decorated it with John Lewis curtains and cushions, which he bought on Oxford Street. At night, the guitarist would peruse London’s late-1960s music scene, visiting famous venues such as the Speakeasy and the Marquee. Hendrix also learnt that Handel had lived next door and visited record shops on South Molton Street to buy Handel’s Messiah. We can only guess what inspiration he drew from it!
Certainly, the two musicians chose well: Brook Street is conveniently located in the heart of what is now London’s most luxurious neighbourhood, Mayfair. Aside from offering convenient transport links to the rest of the city, the area is close to the National Museum, the National Gallery, Buckingham Palace, and many more of the Capital’s favourite attractions. Although Handel lived and died in Mayfair long before Liberty’s opened in 1875, Hendrix may well have enjoyed browsing the extravagant and eastern influences that became fashionable in the 1960s, and inspired many of Liberty’s furnishing designs. Hendrix would also have enjoyed watching films at the grand Curzon cinema, which opened in April 1966 in a prime location in Mayfair.
The famed Mews of Mayfair has created a Handel & Hendrix afternoon tea, featuring some of the musicians’ favourite guilty pleasures (available until the end of September). Others still may be swayed to sip cocktails instead at Mr Fogg’s Residence, just off Berkeley Square Gardens. With live performances and late openings, Handel & Hendrix in London is a fascinating opportunity to explore the interconnected lives of two music icons. It is best to book a ticket online to avoid disappointment; historical coincidences seem to draw a crowd and the museum has been popular since opening in February 2016.