Coming Together: One Dream, One Vision
Jimi Hendrix passed suddenly on September 18, 1970 while touring through London, England. When news of the tragedy made its way to James “Al” Hendrix, (Jimi's father) back in the United States, the wheels for a lasting memorial began to take shape. Al Hendrix requested that Jimi's body be brought back to his birthplace of Seattle, Washington so that a burial at a new family plot, located at Greenwood Memorial Park in Renton could be performed.
Despite having barely enough funds to bring Jimi's body back to America, Al Hendrix created a family burial site, consisting of five plots; one for Jimi, half-brother Leon, half-sister Janie, Al Hendrix and his wife Ayako 'June'. With Jimi being the first laid to rest in the new family plot, a modest headstone engraved 'Forever In Our Hearts -- James M. "Jimi" Hendrix -- 1942-1970' was crafted. Despite Jimi's grand musical style, the simple headstone was all that Al could provide his son at that point.
Fourteen years later, with the passing of Nora Hendrix (Al's mother) in 1984, a decision was made to include her in the family plot. As the years continued to move forward, the Hendrix family, like most families continued to grow in significant numbers, with more than forty new additions to both immediate and extended families. As the family continued to grow, Al Hendrix always kept a small flickering flame on his mind, believing that creating a larger family plot where everyone could be buried together.
Thankfully, through all of this, Al Hendrix successfully regained the rights to his son's musical legacy in 1995. After a two and a half year legal battle, the legacy of Jimi Hendrix had finally come home to whom it rightfully belonged. With the control of the Hendrix legacy firmly in the grips of his family and the elder Hendrix, Al finally reaped some degree of financial security as a result. With the legacy firmly back in family hands, Al Hendrix was in a position to bring past wishes to life.
As Mr. Hendrix described in an interview in 1999, "with Jimi's music now in good hands, there is one important job left for me to take care of for my family. I have decided to create a memorial for Jimi at Greenwood Cemetery.
"A resting-place for a loved one is almost always a private issue dealt with quietly by family members. However, I have always understood that Jimi in some way belongs to his fans and the world.
"Understanding this, I recently joined with Greenwood Cemetery to create plans for a beautiful memorial on behalf of Jimi. This is something I always wished I could have done for my son, but I was not able to do so until now. With the creation of this new memorial, I am now able to make sure that there is a place where all my family can be buried together. This brings me great peace."
As Hendrix described, the proposed Jimi Hendrix Memorial is more than a place to celebrate the life of Jimi Hendrix, it will become the final resting place to other members of the Hendrix family. When the memorial is finished plans currently outline the relocation of several Hendrix family members to the new 54-plot memorial at Greenwood.
The new memorial will be a place for all to enjoy and a place to remember the life and the music of Jimi Hendrix. Al Hendrix's involvement in the creation of the new memorial was rooted at its very center. Following announcements of the memorial in September 1999, Hendrix explained, "I have been directly involved with every aspect of the memorial project.
"I hope that in the years to come, both my family and Jimi's fans will find peace, remembrance, and inspiration from this memorial. I shall continue to embrace all of the other tributes to Jimi throughout the world, but I hope that the memorial project at Greenwood Cemetery will come to be seen as my legacy to Jimi and my family."
Work on the project began in early 1999 after Mr. Hendrix and his daughter, Janie Hendrix commissioned architect Mark Barthelemy of Cold Springs Granite to design the proposed memorial. The interpretive design incorporates many of Jimi's lifelong beliefs, themes from his own music, input from surviving family members and several significant historical elements, all ensuring that the completed monument would be as unique as the life and music that it celebrates.
Over the years the Hendrix family recognized the need to create something more significant for the fans who help keep Jimi’s musical legacy alive. With more than 14 thousand fans from around the globe visiting Jimi's current grave at Greenwood Memorial Park every year, Al Hendrix sought to create something that would make visiting Jimi's final resting place a truly personal and memorable experience for everyone. In addition to Mr. Hendrix’s desire for a fitting monument to his son, he also wanted a memorial for Jimi that was more respectful to the surrounding graves. With the thousands of visitors that Jimi's grave receives annually, fans trying to pay their respect to Jimi often unwittingly trample the surrounding graves.
On September 24, 1999, Al Hendrix and members of the Hendrix family held a press conference at Greenwood Memorial Park to unveil the initial design and announce to the world his intentions of creating a lasting memorial for his son.
Following on the heels of the announcement of the Hendrix memorial, the family took some pressure from fans after incorrect information was published in news reports throughout the country. Shortly following that, Al Hendrix released a statement to fans to reiterate why he was moving forward with the memorial.
Since that time, work on the project continued, leading up to a public commemoration of the memorial on June 10, 2002, a day that would mark Al Hendrix’s 83rd Birthday. Sadly in late 2001, Mr. Hendrix’s health gradually deteriorated and attention to the project was diverted towards his health. Sadly, James “Al” Hendrix passes away at his Seattle home on April 17, 2002 at the age of 82.
Al was known for his deep affection for all those around him and he always had a special place in his heart for animals. Kindness, honor and loyalty were among his best characteristics. His is a spirit that will be truly missed yet his deeds will live on.
Just as Al Hendrix had strived to fulfill the dreams and preserve the legacy of his famous son, Jimi; surviving members of the Hendrix family vowed to keep Al Hendrix’s vision alive and to complete the projects that had already been started.
While Al Hendrix is no longer here to help see this project through to completion himself, his family has renewed their focus on the memorial project and are destined to see it to completion and a public dedication ceremony this June, to help mark what would have been Al Hendrix’s 84th birthday.
Since September, considerable work has been completed on the project including the construction of three granite pillars that brace the large granite dome that will cover a life-sized bronze statue currently being constructed in Italy. In November, the remains of Jimi Hendrix, his father Al Hendrix and step-mother Ayako were moved to their permanent burial sites around the memorial.
In the coming months, considerable more granite work and bronze accents will be added to the memorial and the life size bronze statue will be installed. As the project continues, this website will feature the latest information.
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