Jimi Hendrix psychedelic smile. portrait by Richard Keith Wolff
Jimi Hendrix at home. Richard Keith Wolff picture and recollections of Jimi Hendrix composer, guitarist and quiet man.
On Tuesday morning 7th January 1969 I found myself sitting in the back of a London Taxi cab chatting with Canadian freelance music TV reporter Hugh Curry. Pulling up to 23 Brook Street in Mayfair, to Jimi Hendrix’s London home, I could see the film crew had just arrived and were now unloading their film equipment. Jimi let us in and we all went up the narrow stairs to the top flat where he lived. Hugh Curry was scheduled to interview Jimi Hendrix for a TV programme and had asked me along to take a few additional stills photographs.
Kathy Etchingham, Jimi Hendrix's English girlfriend, at this time, left shortly after our arrival, it was now quite crowded with our crew, so she went upstairs to the top floor of the apartment. The film crew set up their equipment, while Hugh Curry made further notes for his interview and I took a photograph of Jimi Hendrix standing in front of the mantel place. The biggest room was the bedroom come living room on the lower floor of the apartment, with its double bed covered in colourful traditional Indian prints, so this was the most suitable room for filming the interview.
When the filmed interviewing began Jimi Hendrix was sitting on the bed, Hugh Curry was sitting in an armchair just behind the camera, while I sat nearer on the floor leaning against the wall but also discretely out of shot. In these days this kind of external TV filming for was mostly taken on 16mm film cameras. Because the film magazine needed to be changed when the film ran out, about every seven minutes, this created a break when the camera assistant had to change the film magazine over to a new one.
During these breaks the interviewer Hugh to relax would light up a herb cigarette take a few long meaningful puffs, then get up and take it over to Jimi who was on the bed, Jimi would repeat the process and then get up to bring it over to me, I was sitting on the floor leaning against the wall. Looking back on this, when I recall looking up and seeing Jimi Hendrix handing the cigarette down to me, it seems an amazing mental image. Then in time honoured fashion in due course I would get up my self and take the cigarette back to Hugh in full circle and so on, until the film crew, who abstained (I have to admit they were true professionals) were ready to continue filming.
In one of these breaks between the filming of the interview, I took a few more stills photographs of Jimi lying on the bed leaning over him with my camera as I took them. One time he looked like he was asleep with his eyes closed, another he seemed playful and with his big smile seemed amused by being photographed at this high point and another time he smiled like he was in nirvana, which is kind of what it felt like.
In one of the breaks from filming, Jimi Hendrix picked up his guitar and offered to play it. The film crew's continuity lady suggested, though technically correct but most unhelpfully that it would create a continuity jump cut, I thought an issue that could have been addressed in a number of ways afterwards and anyway who cares about film syntax against listening to Jimi Hendrix playing guitar. Jimi Hendrix looked perplexed by the brief discussion between her and Hugh and put his guitar down, the moment had passed on.
At the end of the interview, the film crew were packing up all their equipment when I heard a knock at the entrance door to the flat, I went down to see who was there. I open the door to see ominous looking men in dark suits, I asked them to wait, then shut the door on them. When I returned, because I was feeling kind of dreamy, I forgot all about them. A while later Jimi asked me who it was that had come to the door, when I explained, he looked for the first time a little bit anxious and went down to see them immediately.
Richard Keith Wolff
Hugh Curry interview of Jimi Hendrix, was made for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) and it was broadcast in a Canadian television programme called "Through The Eyes Of Tomorrow" hosted by Stephen Foster, the following month on 23rd of February 1969. Hugh Curry was a former radio disk jockey for CHUM-FM Toronto.
Post Post Script:
Jimi Hendrix flat at 23 Brook Street, Mayfair, was an office for Handel House Museum which is next door. Handel the baroque composer lived next door at 25 Brook Street from 1723 to 1759. It has been reported that Jimi Hendrix upon learning that the composer Handel had lived next door, however over 200 years before, went to the local record shop and bought some records including Handel's Water Music and Messiah. An official blue plaque to commemorate Jimi Hendrix has been installed on the building quite near the next door blue plaque honouring Handel.
The Handel House Museum has become: Handel & Hendrix In London.
Hendrix Flat was opened to the public on Wednesday 10 February 2016.
Richard Keith Wolff
Location: 23 Brook Street, Mayfair, London, England
Photographer: Richard Keith Wolff