Iconic Jimy Hendrix Places That Tell a Story

Unarguably the greatest guitarist and blues magician of all time, Jimi Hendrix arrived in London on 22nd September 1966 after joining the 101st Airborne Division of the US army to avoid a jail sentence for car theft but hated the army immediately.

A regimental report read: “Individual is unable to conform to military rules and regulations.”

 

Hendrix soon managed to move to New York where he was immediately noticed for his exceptional guitar skills, enough to fly him to London where the hunger for blues was inexplicably greater than in America.

Here there were a lot of white guys listening to blues from America and wanting to sound like their heroes.” One of them was Eric Clapton of Cream, who invited Hendrix to sit in on a performance at Regent Street Polytechnic. And this signed the beginning of an exceptional iconic figure in the world’s music, forging a new soundscape, stretching the blues to some outer limit of expression, ethereal but fearsome, lyrical but dangerous, sublime but ruthless.

By the time he left London in June 1967, he was one of the biggest acts in Britain, with a string of hit singles, a debut album that had made number two in the charts behind him, and a reputation for wild virtuoso live performances.

 

Following Hendrix’s Traces in London

 

MONTAGU SQUARE

Beatles drummer Ringo Starr sub-let 34 Montagu Square to Hendrix from December 1966 until March 1967. It became the location where he composed ‘The Wind Cries Mary’, splashed some paint around during an acid trip and was then evicted. Discover more on our Bloomsbury and Knight Templar Tour.

 

UNIVERSITY OF WESTMINSTER

On October 1 1966, the now University of Westminster played host to Eric Clapton’s band Cream and a then-unknown Jimi Hendrix.

In ‘Clapton: The Autobiography’, Eric recalls: ‘The song Jimi wanted to play was by Howlin’ Wolf, entitled Killing Floor. I thought it was incredible that he would know how to play this, as it was a tough one to get right. Of course, Jimi played it exactly like it ought to be played, and he totally blew me away.’

 

From Mayfair to Bloomsbury, to Notting Hill Hendrix has left a sign all over London.

Join our Secrets of London Templars Walk to discover more.

The Making of “Do They Know It’s Christmas”

It wouldn’t be Christmas without hearing ‘Do They Know it’s Christmas’ at least once!

But do you know why and where this song was recorded? In October 1984 Boomtown Rats singer Bob Geldof watched in horror as footage of the worsening Ethiopian famine played across his television screen as part of a BBC News documentary. A week later he met up with Midge Ure, who was just as troubled by what he had seen on the report. The two decided to channel their outrage into a new charity single.

 

The plan grew significantly larger in scope after Geldof made some calls to the British pop community. “I rang Sting and he said, ‘Yeah, count me in,’ and then [Simon] Le Bon. He just immediately said, ‘Tell me the date and we’ll clear the diary,’” Geldof told Melody Makerin 1984. “The same day I was passing by this antique shop and who is standing in there but [Spandau Ballet’s] Gary Kemp, just about to go off on tour to Japan.

He said he was mad for it as well and to wait 10 days till they got back in the country… suddenly it hit me. I thought, ‘Christ, we have got the real top boys here,’ all the big names in pop are suddenly ready and willing to do this… I knew then that we were off, and I just decided to go for all the rest of the faces and started to ring everyone up, asking them to do it.” The vocal track was completed in one marathon 24-hour session, and — amazingly — in shops just days later, credited to “Band Aid.” Thanks to a massive publicity campaign and an hourly push on BBC radio, “Do They Know It’s Christmas?” shot to number one in the U.K., where it remained the biggest selling single until Elton John’s “Candle in the Wind 1997.” In addition to the tens of millions of dollars it raised worldwide for Ethiopian famine relief, the song helped sew the seeds for Geldof and Ure’s Live Aid concert the following year.

The recording took place in Notting Hill at Sarm West Studios, an old church converted into a studio in 1969.

Bob Marley’s Chelsea House: Where famous songs were created

Bob Marley London House | Unexpected London

Ever wondered why one of Bob Marley’s most iconic albums is called Exodus? If not here’s a brief excerpt of the incredible and tragic story that forced Bob Marley to flee from Jamaica to England to save his life.

The Exodus

1976 was a crucial year in the life of the most iconic reggae artists of all times. In a very tumultuous period for Jamaica, when a state of Emergency was declared due to growing inequality in the society, Bob Marley announced plans to organize a concert to try and calm spirits down and dwell violence. Although politically neutral this was taken by many as tacitly supporting the main party.

On December 3, 1976, two days before the Smile Jamaica concert, seven men with guns raided Marley’s house at 56 Hope Road. Marley and his band were on break from rehearsal. Marley’s wife, Rita, was shot in the head in her car in the driveway. The gunmen shot Marley in the chest and arm. His manager, Don Taylor, was shot in the legs and torso. Band employee, Louis Griffiths took a bullet to his torso as well. Astonishingly, there were no fatalities. This led Marley to flee Jamaica and go to London. His album Exodus was inspired exactly by this tragic event.

Where did Bob Marley live in London?

Bob Marley lived in London on a self-imposed exile from 1976 to 1979 and during these three years, he changed a few houses, living in Bloomsbury, Kennington/Brixton, Notting Hill and Chelsea.

The house where he recovered after the assassination attempt was in Chelsea at 42 Oakley Street, where an English Heritage blue plaque was installed on 1st October 2019. The one-bedroom flat on Oakley Street, off King’s Road, was where Marley lived whilst recording one of his most famous albums. He soon after moved to another acquaintance’s home in Old Church Street, Chelsea, where he was joined by members of his band The Wailers. When they were not recording they would make the short trip over the Albert Bridge to play football in Battersea Park. Bob Marley composed the huge hit in this very house. It was while living in Chelsea that Marley and the Wailers finished recording Exodus, the album which featured Jamming and One Love. The historian David Olusoga, a trustee of English Heritage and blue plaques panel member, said he was particularly excited by the Marley plaque. Marley, he said, remained “one of the most loved and most listened to musicians of the 20th century. He was one of the first superstars to come from a developing country. He is one of the most famous faces in the world, one of the most recognisable faces in the world, and he blazed a trail for other artists from developing countries.”

Learn more about the connection between Bob Marley and Chelsea in a unique immersive walking tour organized by Unexpected London: Chelsea Unexpected Tour.