Well, it’s been a while since my last blog.
I had the chance to have a relaxing vacation in Florida & the Bahamas, and it brought this memory to my mind. The reason for this recollection is that the great, late Jimi Hendrix would have celebrated his 70th birthday on November 27th.
In the late 90’s I visited the Seattle area quite frequently. I knew that Jimi came from same district so on one occasion I decided to find out where he was buried. Those were early days for the web, so not all information was there. Instead, I had to do some work to find his cemetery.
Finally, I located his graveyard in Renton, a little town adjacent to Seattle to the East. It was Greenwood Memorial Park, but clear route guides didn’t exist in the mid-90’s. Also, there were no map-based GPS navigator systems for drivers’ convenience.
It was a rainy Saturday afternoon when I headed there with my friend driving and myself as a human navigator. Finally, we were able to locate Sunset Boulevard in Renton. It seemed like we were heading in right direction. A couple of turns still left…
Well, we finally found a graveyard in Renton and drove our car into the middle of the cemetery. No other persons were there though. Or at least we thought so. A van parked near us and stood still for a while. I lowered my car window and decided to speak to the person in the van. I yelled “Good evening, where’s Jimi?” The person in the van was immediately electrified and responded “Oh, man, you must mean Mr. Hendrix”. I said “Yeah, that’s correct!” The person told us that we were at the wrong cemetery, but volunteered to take us to the right one. It took us some 5-10 minutes to finally get to the right cemetery, Greenwood Memorial.
The graveyard differed very much from European cemeteries, especially Finnish ones. For starters, it seemed that there were no grave stones until we walked deeper into the cemetery. Quickly we learned that all the memory plaques were embedded in the lawn and without proper guidance we wouldn’t have had any chance to locate Mr. Hendrix’s final resting place. Luckily, we had the van-driving friend to take us further along the lawns of the memorial park.
Finally, he stopped to show the modest memorial plaque in the lawn, partially covered by dirt. I wiped off the dirt and was able to read the writing:
“Forever in our hearts, James M. ‘Jimi’ Hendrix, 1942-1970.” A carved Fender Stratocaster in the stone and that was it! No big statues or anything fancy! I felt a kind of disappointment throughout my body. What on earth, the greatest electric guitarist ever lived and no-one paid more attention to his last quarter!
I left my flowers there and spent a short silent moment to feel the spirit of Hendrix come over me! ;-).
Later, having talked to the van guy we learned that he was actually a drummer who had played with Jimi before Mitch Mitchell!
The fellow also told me that the less known Microsoft philanthropist, Paul Allen, had had discussions with the Hendrix estate to build a proper Jimi Hendrix Memorial to that very same location. It came into reality about six years later, as Jimi’s body was exhumed and reburied under a marble dome memorial in another section of Greenwood Memorial Park. However, I can still feel the modest, but strong spirit of the original place where no other people than us were!
Later, I’ve had a chance to take some other of my friends to this very special place!