Hendrix's father preserves memories of his famous son

September 23, 1990|By Patrick MacDonald | Patrick MacDonald,Seattle Times

SEATTLE -- James A. Hendrix, known as "Al" to his friends, is sole heir to the Jimi Hendrix estate, which, according to Forbes magazine, earns about $4 million a year.

The elder Hendrix, a retired landscape gardener who is 71, was busy last Tuesday handling calls and doing interviews related to the 20th anniversary of his son's death. He had just completed an interview with one local TV station, and was expecting two more TV crews -- one from another local station and another from CNN.

He was worried he was going to be late for a bowling date -- he's an active team bowler, as well as an avid golfer.

"You've got to do something with your time," he laughed. "I don't like sitting around here all day."

Jimi Hendrix bought his father a truck and other expensive presents, but his father, who had a successful landscaping business, refused to let his son buy him a new house. But after Jimi died, his father was advised by attorneys to make long-term investments, including the big house he now occupies in South Seattle.

The home includes a rec room with Hendrix memorabilia, including four gold records and some of Jimi's guitars.

"Stevie Ray Vaughan came by last time he was in town and he played the black guitar," Mr. Hendrix said. "I enjoyed his company."

Vaughan, a guitarist greatly influenced by Jimi, visited the elder Hendrix in July. Vaughan died about a month later in a helicopter crash following a concert in Wisconsin.

Mr. Hendrix lists his name in the phone book and takes calls from fans almost daily. He says he enjoys talking to them, even though he tells the same stories over and over, about Jimi's childhood and his early musical development.

Mr. Hendrix regularly visits his son's grave at Greenwood Cemetery in Renton, a suburb of Seattle. He was planning to go there Tuesday.

"I expect I'll see a lot of people there," he said.

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