Considered by many to be the greatest guitar player of all time, Jimi Hendrix passed away on September 18, 1970, while touring through London, England.
When news made its way to his father, James “Al” Hendrix, the plans for a long-lasting memorial began to take shape. Al requested that Jimi’s body be brought back to his birthplace of Seattle, Washington so that burial at a new family plot, located at Greenwood Memorial Park in Renton, could be performed.
He purchased a burial site of five plots, one for Jimi, half-brother Leon, half-sister Janie, himself 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.
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 wanted a larger family plot where everyone could be buried together.
In 1995, Al Hendrix and his family gained full control over Jimi’s music, name and likeness, estimated to be worth between $60 million and $90 million, after two years of legal fights. The settlement granted Al back royalties and rights to future royalties. After the decision, he and daughter Janie founded Experience Hendrix, a Seattle-based management company, to handle the estate.
Now with funds from Jimi’s royalties in hand, Al began the turning the wheels to expand the family plot at Greenwood, and a larger memorial for his son.
“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.”
Work on the project began in early 1999 after Al and his daughter, Janie Hendrix commissioned architect Mark Barthelemy of Cold Springs Granite to design the proposed memorial. A press conference was held on September 24, 1999, at Greenwood Memorial Park, where Al and family members of the Hendrix family unveiled the initial design.
A public commemoration of the memorial was to be held on June 10, 2002, which would have also marked Al’s 83rd Birthday. But in late 2001, his health gradually deteriorated and attention to the project was diverted. Al passed away at his Seattle home on April 17, 2002.
Janie Hendrix, Al’s daughter from his second marriage, and Jimi’s half-sister, took over control of Experience Hendrix LLC. The memorial project continued on and was finally dedicated in 2003. Jimi’s remains were finally moved to the memorial, along with his father Al and step-mother Ayako.
Greenwood Memorial Park estimates tens of thousands of fans visit the Jimi Hendrix Memorial each year. Many legendary musicians visit the shrine during their tour of Seattle.
On May 3, 2015, Sash and I met up with two of our friends, Allen and Rebecca who live in Olympia, for a ride to see Jimi Hendrix’ grave.
Considering my father’s side of the family have settled in Renton since the beginning of the 20th Century, I had already seen most of Renton, but oddly not Jimi’s final resting place.
With hundreds of lipstick prints visible on the marble columns, and perhaps hundreds of thousands more that have weathered off, there’s no question the impact that Hendrix has made on American culture.
Otherwise, the people Greenwood Memorial Park have done a good job of creating enough nearby parking to accommodate visitors. Definitely put on some earplugs and listen to his songs as you sit inside the memorial.
Greenwood Memorial Park
350 Monroe Ave NE
Renton, WA 98056
Cemetery Office: 8:30AM to 5:00PM
The Memorial is accessible 24 hours a day.