Jimi Hendrix Park opens after 10 years

SEATTLE • Jimi Hendrix dropped out of high school and never returned to live in his hometown of Seattle after joining the army in 1961.

But the city never forgot the iconic guitarist and came up with another tribute - the Jimi Hendrix Park - last Saturday.

The looping signature of Hendrix, who died in 1970 at 27, greets visitors at the park, which was formally christened in 2006, but did not open until last Saturday, after a decade of permit delays and financial woes.

The 1ha park honours the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame musician and is within walking distance of his childhood home in the Central District, one of Seattle's historically black neighbourhoods.

Its opening came on the 50th anniversary of the Monterey Pop Festival, a breakout event for Hendrix, who set his guitar ablaze there.

Musicians from a youth rock camp belted out a cover of Purple Haze, the first tune in a daylong Hendrix soundtrack, from underneath a red sculpture evocative of a butterfly wing.

The sculpture, which provides shade over a performance stage, sits at the centre of a spiralling sidewalk that resembles a guitar when viewed aerially.

At 12 points on the sidewalk, along what would be frets on a guitar neck, plaques embedded in the concrete narrate Hendrix's life.

Lyrics from his songs Little Wing (1967) and Angel (1971) are etched along the walkway's edge.

Now a grassy expanse dotted with flowering plants and saplings, the park was once a carpark fronting a derelict elementary school that became the Northwest African American Museum in 2008. Its founding executive director proposed that a Jimi Hendrix Park be added and the guitarist's sister Janie, 56, came on board to help fulfil the dream.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 20, 2017, with the headline 'Jimi Hendrix Park opens after 10 years'. Print Edition | Subscribe