A Look At Seattle’s Jimi Hendrix Park
Jimi Hendrix is so closely associated with New York and London, some may forget he was born and largely grew up in Seattle. He formed his first real band in Nashville and rose to prominence with hit songs in England – but Seattle still takes pride in being the home of one of the most innovative rock stars of all time (and possibly the greatest guitarist who ever lived). Thus, it’s not exactly surprising the city would want to pay tribute to Hendrix. Doing so by building a park in his name, however, is definitely an unusual move.
Hendrix tributes have actually been semi-regular over the last several years – and perhaps they always will be. In 2014, André Benjamin starred in the John Ridley-directed biopic Jimi: All Is By My Side. It wasn’t a hit, but it is the most modern cinematic take on Hendrix, and as one review put it, is hard to dismiss. Benjamin has a cool take on the artist, and while the rapper/actor has indicated regret at taking on the role, we would say he did it justice. The film itself could have been a little bit cleaner, but in some ways it helped the idea of Hendrix come alive for younger generations.
In 2016, we also saw a Hendrix tribute in video game form. This is actually something we referenced on this site once before when Motorhead put out a similar game and the Hendrix one was planned. Now, that Hendrix game is available online, and it’s probably an even better homage than the Motorhead one. An Irish game site that hosts some of the more popular and advanced slots on the internet has a thorough description of the game, and says that it features some of the best songs ever made. That alone is a nice bit of praise for Hendrix (whose “Purple Haze” and “Little Wing” are among the tracks appearing in the game).
These are not the most surprising ways to honor an artist though. Biopics are fairly standard for major artist, and while the specific games are somewhat surprising, it’s not a shock generally to see modern multimedia of one sort or another calling back to artists of old. The Seattle approach of building a park in Hendrix’s name, however, is more unusual – and ultimately perhaps more effective.
It’s actually been quite a long time in the works. It was originally named (“Jimi Hendrix Park”) in 2006. The intent was for the park to be opened in 2012 to celebrate what would have been Hendrix’s 70th birthday. It was delayed several years, however, and though the area was open to the public beginning in 2016, it had something of a formal grand opening just last summer.
The 2.5-acre park is next to the Northwest African American Museum in town, and features several nods to Hendrix. Most notably, there’s a stairway adorned with his signature, as well as a walkway that has a sort of timeline of his life written on it, as well as the lyrics to the songs “Angel” and “Little Wing.” There is also a $300,000 wall painted with silhouettes of the artists, and in perhaps the most meaningful tribute of all, the park contains its own outdoor amphitheater. It is meant essentially as a place for people to gather in public, appreciate Hendrix, and perhaps play some music of their own.