A good addition to the Images of America graveyard books. As is typical, the text is circular and no doubt leaves much out, but if it inspires a true guide (with color pictures!) to Seattle’s lovely Lake View Cemetery, then it will have done its job.
It did guide my own visits to the graves of Jimi Hendrix and Bruce Lee, despite the typo in the listing of Hendrix’s final resting place. Lucky for me, there is no Evergreen Cemetery in Renton, Washington.
The author did a good job with the Seattle pioneers buried in Lake View, including both photos of the people and of their tombstones. Some cemetery books actually forget to show you what you’re looking for.
The photo prompt for this week is another one that’s tough to illustrate in a cemetery. I want to write about Seattle’s Lake View Cemetery for tomorrow’s Cemetery of the Week, so I’ll stick close geographically, if not in the same immediate grounds.
During my trip to Washington in February 2009, I wanted to visit Hendrix’s grave because his guitar-playing was so influential for my husband. We were staying with two musician friends in Seattle, so they were kind enough to chauffer me out to Greenwood Memorial Park in Renton. The weather was chilly and gray, but the rain held off while we poked around.
My host William chuckled about the conversation he’d face at work on the Monday after our visit. “Oh, what did you do this weekend?” he’d be asked. “Oh, nothing,” he’d say. “Just hung out in some cemeteries.”
I didn’t immediately recognize that some people might find such a thing unusual. I’ve been going to graveyards so long that it’s second nature. I always seek out graveyards when I travel. Even at home, I may spend as much time in graveyards as I do in the park. If I have some time on my own to kill, I often find the closest graveyard to explore.
I wasn’t sure if I should apologize to William, but he just laughed at me. “I know how you are,” he said. “It’s no problem.”
I reviewed the first edition of this book in Morbid Curiosity #5. The author, Scott Stanton, went to the trouble of tracking down my phone number to call and discuss the review, especially my list of musicians who should have gotten some attention and my concerns that the lack of an index made the book difficult to use. Both issues have been corrected in this edition.
Full disclosure: Stanton asked me to photograph some grave monuments for this edition, but my photos didn’t make the cut into the book. Very disappointing! Still, he thanks me and Morbid Curiosity in his introduction, so that was nice to see. The photos that are included tend to be smaller than I would prefer and somewhat dark, but I fully admit that might be sour grapes.
Special praise goes to the careful directions Stanton gives for potential cemetery visitors. Some graveyards, particularly Southern California’s Forest Lawns, will not give maps or directions to fans who want to visit their idols. To counteract that, Stanton gives specific instructions on how to find the graves. That’s worth the cover price right there.
The book is encyclopedic, spanning the roots of blues through rock to rap and rasta. If there’s a music lover in your circle, this is the perfect gift. If I were more of a music lover myself, I would give the book more stars here.
I’m still awaiting the second volume of the Tombstone Tourist series. I’m torn between Literary Figures or Actors, but either way, I’d love to see Stanton apply the same level of attention and detail to more dead people.
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.
Click here to sign up for my monthly mailing list, which will keep you up to date on my speaking schedule and upcoming projects. As a thank you, you'll receive "4Elements," a short ebook that showcases one of my favorite cemetery essays, a travel essay, and two short stories, spanning from urban fantasy to science fiction.