Jimi Hendrix was arguably the most mercurial guitarist to have ever graced the earth — but even he wasn’t perfect. Hendrix was a nightmare tenant and, despite his supersonic skillset, The Beatles drummer Ringo Starr discovered the guitarist’s personal flaws the hard way.
The first meeting between the two men remains unknown, but Hendrix was one of the many famous faces to enjoy a brief spell living at Starr’s property, 34 Montagu Square in Marylebone, London. The American musician moved into the property in December 1966, just a few months after making his arrival in London. Bouncing around the city with his guitar strapped to his back, Hendrix couldn’t turn down Starr’s offer of just £30 a month for rent in Central London. Even counting for inflation, that’s a certified bargain.
Hendrix originally moved into the dreamlike house with his then-girlfriend Kathy Etchingham, manager Chas Chandler and his girlfriend, Lotta Null, who occupied the basement flat. Starr was renting the property and began to sublet the space out to the new king of London town.
Bizarrely, The Beatles were yet to watch Hendrix live before he moved into Starr’s property. Paul McCartney later remembered the first time he caught him in action: “Jimi was a sweetie, a very nice guy. I remember him opening at the Saville on a Sunday night, 4th June 1967,” he said, adding: “Brian Epstein used to rent it when it was usually dark on the Sunday. Jimi opened, the curtains flew back and he came walking forward, playing ‘Sgt. Pepper’, and it had only been released on Thursday so that was like the ultimate compliment.”
Despite his prowess on stage, Hendrix was far from the perfect tenant. The building is etched in musical history, with Paul McCartney previously living in the property for a period of time in 1965 and, as it happens, it is the location of which he wrote ‘Eleanor Rigby’. A few years later, John Lennon and Yoko Ono spent time in the Marylebone house during the recording process of the White Album. In fact, the home is the exact location where the duo were arrested after a controversial drugs raid by Scotland Yard.
If the walls could talk at 34 Montagu Square, then there’d no doubt be a best-selling memoir busting out of it. With that in mind, Jimi Hendrix’s time at the property would prop up the hit chapters after it all ended in tears after chaos ensued. After an LSD trip that went wrong, the guitarist ended up splattering whitewash across the walls of the house, which the drummer had expensively decorated beforehand.
Although Hendrix spent his time at the property disastrously, it wasn’t all bad, and it remains the location that he wrote the song ‘The Wind Cries Mary’. Evicting Hendrix from the property does seem a tad on the harsh side, but one suspects this wasn’t the first incident of this manner. Additionally, it wasn’t even Ringo’s property, which meant that he couldn’t throw caution to the wind.
If you’re in London and want to take a look at the house for yourself, then it’s hard to miss as it has a plaque outside unveiled by Yoko Ono in 2010, which reads, ‘John Lennon Musician and Songwriter 1940 – 1980 lived here in 1968’.