April 28, 2010

Hendrix items donated to NMAI

Jimi Hendrix's patchwork coat heads to the Museum of the American IndianSay the name Jimi Hendrix and you think: Rock star. Woodstock. Crazy costumes. Greatest electric guitar player ever.

But his sister Janie and the National Museum of the American Indian want you to know that part of his great style came from his Native American ancestry. Now 49 and head of Jimi Hendrix's Seattle-based estate, she brought one of the musician's custom-made coats and two replica guitars to the museum Wednesday for an upcoming exhibit, "Up Where We Belong: Native Musicians in Popular Culture," which opens in July.

"Having Native American culture is really important to our family," said Janie, Jimi's little sister from his father's second marriage. She's the keeper of Jimi's flame, the one who tries preserve the history and family story behind the images.

Jimi, she told us, got his fashion sense from their paternal grandmother, who was part Cherokee, played vaudeville and had a flamboyant collection of feather hats and flashy costumes. "He loved suede, velvets and lots of color," Janie said. The full-length patchwork coat--green, rust, blue, camel, pink and black suede with a fuchsia lining--was one of a small number of personal items recovered by the family after his death in 1970.
Comment:  For more on the subject, see Native Roots of Hendrix and the Blues.

Below:  "Janie Hendrix delivers her late brother's coat and two guitar replicas to Tim Johnson, an associate director at the National Museum of the American Indian." (Katherine Fogden/Smithsonian)

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