Cemetery of the Week #49: The Jimi Hendrix Monument

Jimi Hendrix Memorial, Greenwood Memorial Park

Greenwood Memorial Park
350 Monroe Avenue NE
Renton, Washington 98056
Telephone: (425) 255-1511
Founded: Late 1909
First burial: February 25, 1910
Size: 40 acres
Approximate number of interments: 12,000
Open: Dawn to dusk daily

When Jimi Hendrix suddenly died in London on September 18, 1970, his father James “Al” Hendrix barely had the money to bring his body home. Among the fans attending the Seattle funeral were Miles Davis, Johnny Winter, and drummer Buddy Miles.

The elder Hendrix had purchased a small family plot in Greenwood Memorial Park near the family home in Renton, Washington, south of Seattle and east of Sea-Tac. Jimi was the first Hendrix to be buried there, under a simple granite headstone illustrated with a Stratocaster guitar and the epitaph “Forever in Our Hearts.”

Hendrix’s original tombstone

In 1995, Al Hendrix finally regained control of Jimi’s music with the help of Microsoft billionaire Paul Allen, founder of the Seattle Experience Music Project and owner of the largest collection of Hendrix memorabilia in the world. With these new funds, the senior Hendrix bought a 54-plot space in Greenwood and had plans drawn up for a suitable monument to his son. Unfortunately, he didn’t survive to see it completed.

Sundial and one of the portraits, with family headstones surrounding the outside.

The monument, designed by architect Mark Barthelemy of Cold Springs, is a granite-capped gazebo. Each of its three supporting pillars features a laser-etched portrait of Hendrix and some of his lyrics in his handwriting. The breathtaking monument is handicap-accessible.

On November 26, 2002 (the day before his 60th birthday), Jimi Hendrix was exhumed and reburied with his father in a vault beneath the new monument. His original headstone, newly restored, was encased in granite in the center of the memorial. His original burial site was then marked with a simple bronze placeholder.

A life-sized bronze statue of Jimi had been commissioned to stand atop the plinth built around the old headstone in the new monument. According to the memorial’s website, as of 2003, the statue was being constructed in Italy. When I visited in 2009, it had not yet been put in place. (This is not the same statue erected in front of the AEI Music Networks on Broadway at Pine in Seattle’s Capitol Hill district, which was completed in 1997. For several years, there have been rumors that the statue by Darryl Smith might be moved to the park that bears Hendrix’s name beside the Northwest African American Museum in Seattle’s Central District. Nothing concrete seems to have been announced yet.)

Up to 15,000 fans visit Hendrix’s grave each year. Before Hendrix was moved, fans trampled adjacent graves and caused some damage. Now they leave flowers, lipstick kisses, and drug paraphernalia.

Greenwood follows the memorial park style in that it is a large, flat green plain. Highlights include a modern carillon, a Veterans of Foreign Wars monument, crowned with an anti-aircraft gun, and the Garden of Eternal Peace, which features a large pagoda and a fountain surrounded by large carp. Hendrix’s tomb is easy to see when you enter the graveyard.

Useful links:

Greenwood’s website

Jimi Hendrix Memorial Project website

Directions to the monument

A close-up of the monument

Books I’ve reviewed that reference Jimi’s tomb:

Stairway to Heaven: the Final Resting Places of Rock’s Legends

Tombstone Tourist: Musicians

Cemeteries of Seattle

About Loren Rhoads

I am the author of the essay collection Wish You Were Here: Adventures in Cemetery Travel, co-author of the novel As Above, So Below, and editor of The Haunted Mansion Project: Year Two. Scribner published my favorite essays from Morbid Curiosity magazine as Morbid Curiosity Cures the Blues. In addition to blogging at CemeteryTravel.com, I blog about my morbid life at lorenrhoads.com.
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6 Responses to Cemetery of the Week #49: The Jimi Hendrix Monument

  1. So interesting! I remember well the day Jimi died…I had just started college and there was a huge stir on campus. But I didn’t know any of the facts related to his burial. I would actually be one of those who would like to come pay tributes…but maybe I’ll just leave a flower! Debra

    • Loren Rhoads says:

      We didn’t think to bring anything, but he was a huge influence on my husband, who’s a guitar player. I don’t think any of my photos here show how many bouquets had been left around the monument.

      I want to hear about it if you go, Debra :-)

      Loren

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