Inside Jimi Hendrix’s blood-spattered record collection

You can see it on display in central London

If you’re ever at a loose end in central London, you could do far worse than checking out the historic recreation of Jimi Hendrix’s Mayfair flat. Handel & Hendrix in London is a museum dedicated to two disparate musical icons – George Frideric Handel and Jimi Hendrix – because both lived on the museum’s Brook Street site. As part of your visit, you can check out a recreation of Jimi Hendrix’s flat, including his record collection – which includes some huge classics (one of which, slightly grimly, has blood all over it). The museum supplied us with some stories about his well-thumbed vinyl collection – see them below, and scroll further down for the full list:

The Beatles – ‘Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band’

Of the Beatles albums in Hendrix’s collection, ‘Sgt. Pepper’ is the most worn; he famously opened with a ‘killer’ arrangement of the title track at the Saville Theatre just three days after the album’s release and with the Beatles in the audience. Paul McCartney called the performance “one of the greatest honours of my career”.

Bob Dylan – ‘Highway 61 Revisited’

In 1965, as a struggling musician in New York, Hendrix was already enough of a Dylan fan to spend his last money on this album. The Brook Street copy of this LP has Hendrix’s blood on its sleeve, after he cut his hand on a broken wine glass then picked up the album. 

Ravi Shankar – ‘Sound of the Sitar’

Hendrix’s albums by Ravi Shankar were presents from Brian Jones of the Rolling Stones, a great supporter, who was a world music listener, and knew Hendrix would be open to the different scales and structures of Indian classical music.

Richie Havens – ‘Mixed Bag’

Richie Havens, an old friend from Hendrix’s Greenwich Village days, dropped by Hendrix’s flat in Brook Street to present Jimi with this record, his latest album. Havens then demonstrated his anti-war anthem ‘Handsome Johnny’ to a small party in the flat on Hendrix’s Epiphone acoustic guitar. 

Muddy Waters – ‘Electric Mud’

‘Electric Mud’ attempted to “modernise” Muddy Waters via the addition of wah wah and other voguish sounds. When he heard it in Mr Love, the café below his flat in Brook Street, Hendrix asked the waiter what it was. When told it was Muddy Waters’ latest, Hendrix at first refused to believe it, before smiling and saying “I used to follow him. Now he’s following me”.

Handel – ‘Great Choruses from Handel’s Messiah’

Hendrix owned two copies of Handel’s ‘Messiah’, both of which show signs of wear and tear. This rendition by the English Chamber Orchestra promised period sounds which would have been uncanny listening so near to where it was composed. 

The Bee Gees – ‘1st’

Kathy Etchingham describes this as “one of the first records in the collection. We used to listen to that quite a lot. Jimi thought their harmonies were really great.”

Otis Redding – ‘The Immortal Otis Redding’

During 1963 Hendrix toured with Solomon Burke in a five-act lineup which also included Otis Redding. Burke struggled with Hendrix’s flashy playing: “five dates would go beautifully, and then at the next show, he’d go into this wild stuff that wasn’t part of the song. I just couldn’t handle it anymore.” One night on the tour bus Burke traded Hendrix to Otis Redding, exchanging him for two horn players.

John Lennon and Yoko Ono – ‘Unfinished Music No. 1: Two Virgins’

‘Two Virgins’ had to be distributed in the UK by Track Records; EMI’s board declined to take the risk of an obscenity prosecution over the full frontal cover image. Even One Stop Records (Hendrix local record store when he lived at 23 Brook Street, Mayfair), where Jimi bought his copy, sold the album in a brown modesty bag. Kathy Etchingham remembers Hendrix bought it on a whim because of the cover.

Sam Gopal – ‘Escalator’

Released just as Hendrix left Brook Street, this LP features a young Lemmy on guitar (he also wrote several of the songs). Lemmy had roadied for the Jimi Hendrix Experience at their 1967 Royal Albert Hall show, getting the job from his flat mate, regular Jimi Hendrix Experience roadie Neville Chesters.

The Red Crayola – ‘The Parable of Arable Land’

Not all of Hendrix’s album selections imply significant musical influences; some were bought for very superficial reasons. For example, Kathy Etchingham believes that Hendrix picked up this album on an impulse because the cover artwork was similar in style to his own drawings.

Elmore James – ‘Memorial Album’

This album features ‘Bleeding Heart’, a track Hendrix first covered live in 1965 and which he popularised through recording multiple versions. It featured on the set list of Hendrix’s legendary Royal Albert Hall gig on the 24th February 1969 while he was living at 23 Brook Street.

Dr. John – ‘Babylon’

It’s possible that Hendrix’s ownership of this album has to do with the fact that he is name-checked in the final track, the bizarre ‘The Lonesome Guitar Strangler’, with Dr. John proclaiming how he’s going to murder Hendrix.

The Dream – ‘Get Dreamy’

Hendrix was gifted a copy of this rare album on tour; it was inscribed by Dream guitarist Terje Rypdal, who wrote “with all the respect we can give a fellow musician, we wrote “ Hey Jimi” as a tribute to you. We hope you like it and enjoy the rest of the LP too.” 

Django Reinhardt – ‘Django’

Features the fast finger-picking style of a self-taught Romany master of the guitar. Hendrix named his group Band of Gypsys in Django’s honour.

Jimi’s full London record collection:

Mr. Acker Bilk and his Paramound Jazz Band – ‘Mr Acker Bilk’s Lansdowne Folio’
Albert King – ‘Live Wire/Blues Power’
J.S. Bach, E. Power Briggs – ‘Bach on the Pedal Harpsichord’
The Band – ‘Music from Big Pink’
The Beatles – ‘Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely hearts club Band’, ‘Magical Mystery Tour’
The Bee Gees – ‘Bee Gees’ 1st’
Bill Cosby – ‘I Started Out as a Child’, ‘Revenge’
Blind Blake – ‘1926 – Bootleg Rum Dum Blues’
Bob Dylan – ‘The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan’, ‘Blonde On Blonde’, ‘John Wesley Harding’, ‘Greatest Hits’, ‘Highway 61 Revisited’, ‘Bringing It All Back Home’, ‘Nashville Skyline’
The Bonzo Dog Band – ‘The Doughnut in Granny’s Greenhouse’
The Byrds – ‘Fifth Dimension’, ‘Younger Than Yesterday’
Canned Heat – ‘Canned Heat’
The Charles Lloyd Quartet – ‘Journey Within’
Charley Musselwhite’s Southside Band – ‘Stand Back! Here Comes Charley Musselwhite’s Southside Band’
Chris Barber and his Jazzband – ‘Mob – The Chris Barber Convention – Hamburg 1968’
Clara Ward – ‘Gospel Concert’
Cream – ‘Fresh Cream’
Delaney & Bonnie – ‘Home’
Django Reinhardt – ‘Django’
The Dream – ‘Get Dreamy’
Dr. John – ‘Babylon’
The Electric Flag – ‘The Trip: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack’
Elmore James – ‘Memorial Album’, ‘The Best Of’
Eric Burdon & the Animals – ‘The Twain Shall Meet’
The Free Spirits – ‘Out of Sight and Sound’
Friar Tuck – ‘Friar Tuck and his Psychedelic Guitar’
George Harrison – ‘Wonderwall Music’
Handel – ‘Great Choruses from Handel’s Messiah’, ‘The Inspirational Majesty of Favourite Selections from Handel’s Messiah’, ‘Belshazzar’
The Hollies – ‘The Hollies Sing Dylan’
Holst – ‘The Planets Op. 32’
Howlin’ Wolf – ‘More Real Folk Blues’, ‘The Howlin’ Wolf Album’, ‘Moanin’ In The Moonlight’
Jaki Byard – ‘Freedom Together!’
Jaki Byard Trio – ‘Sunshine of my Soul’
James Brown – ‘Showtime’
The Jimi Hendrix Experience – ‘Are You Experienced’, ‘Smash Hits’, ‘Electric Ladyland’
Jimmy Reed – ‘The New Jimmy Reed Album’
Jimmy Smith & Wes Montgomery – ‘The Dynamic Duo’
Joan Baez – ‘Any Day Now’
John Lee Hooker – ‘Drifting Blues’, ‘Live at Café Au-Go-Go’
John Lennon and Yoko Ono – ‘Two Virgins’
John Mayall & The Bluesbreakers – ‘Blues Breakers with Eric Clapton’, ‘Crusade’, ‘A Hard Road’
Johnny Cash – ‘At Folsom Prison’
Junior Wells – ‘It’s My Life, Baby’
Leadbelly – ‘Take This Hammer’
Lightnin’ Hopkins – ‘Earth Blues’, ‘The Roots Of’, ‘Soul Blues’, ‘Something Blue’, ‘Lightnin’ Strikes’
Little Richard – ‘Little Richard Volume 2’
Love – ‘Da Capo’
Lowell Fulson – ‘Lowell Fulson’
The Mothers of Invention – ‘Freak Out!’
Muddy Waters – ‘The Real Folk Blues’, ‘Down on Stovall’s Plantation’, ‘Electric Mud’
Nina Simone – ‘Nuff Said!’
Otis Redding – ‘The Immortal Otis Redding’
Pierre Henry – ‘Le Voyage: D’Après Le Livre Des Morts Tibétian’
Ravi Shankar – ‘Sound of the Sitar’, ‘Portrait of a Genius’ ‘India’s Master Musician’
The Red Crayola with the Familiar Ugly  ‘The Parable of Arable Land’
Richie Havens – ‘Electric Havens’, ‘Mixed Bag’
Robert Johnson – “King of the Delta Blues Singers’
The Roland Kirk Quartet – ‘Rip, Rig and Panic’
The Rolling Stones – ‘Their Satanic Majesties Request’, ‘Big Hits [High Tide and Green Grass]’
Roy Harper – ‘Sophisticated Beggar’
Sam Gopal – ‘Escalator’
Smokey Smothers – ‘The Driving Blues of Smokey Smothers’
Sonny Boy Williamson – ‘Blues Classics by Sonny Boy Williamson’
Sonny Boy Williamson II – ‘Down and Out Blues’, ‘More Real Folk Blues’
The Spencer Davis Group – ‘Autumn ’66’
Subbulakshmi – ‘The Sounds of Subbulakshmi’
Tim Buckley – ‘Goodbye and Hello’
Vanilla Fudge – ‘Vanilla Fudge’
Various – ‘The Original American Folk Blues Festival’, ‘Blues Classics’, ‘American Folk Blues Festival ’66’, ‘Origial Hits of the Great Blues Singers, Vol II’, ‘Chicago/The Blues/Today!, Vol 1’, ‘Heavy Heads’, ‘We Sing The Blues!’
Washboard Sam – ‘Blues Classics by Washboard Sam’
Wes Montgomery – ‘A Day in the Life’
The Zodiac – ‘Cosmic Sounds’