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Hendrix Buried In Home Town

Paying respects and playing the blues

October 29, 1970
Jimi Hendrix's casket is followed by members of his family and childhood friends in Seattle, Washington.
Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

SEATTLE, WASH. — It had been very hot and sunny the last few days in Seattle, most unusual for this time of year. But on Thursday, October 1st the sun didn't quite make it all the way out.

Down in the coffee shop of the Hilton Hotel, right by the airport, Jimi Hendrix's friends and associates were slowly gathering for breakfast. At the Hendrix family's house in south Seattle, the family was getting ready. They would all meet at Dunlap Baptist Church on Ranier Avenue South, where Jimi's funeral was to be held.

Nearly two weeks after his death in London, Jimi Hendrix was back in Seattle, his hometown, to be buried. The results of the inquest had been relayed from London; it was an "open verdict" in every sense of the word, but at this time nobody was really concerned with how he died anyhow. The reality of the present situation – Jimi's funeral – said all that seemed to be said.

The funeral was to begin at the church at 1 PM. The Hendrix family had requested a small, private funeral for friends and relatives only. A pool reporter and pool photographer were allowed inside the church, but that was all. Rope barriers had been strung along either side of the walkway leading up to the church door, and press and onlookers stayed behind it.

The Seattle longhair community was most respectful of the family's wishes. They stood quietly behind the ropes and watched as people walked into the church. They had also come to pay tribute to Jimi, for no other reason, and they provided none of the problems with crowd control that Seattle police had prepared for, just in case.

The church itself was very simple, even dull. A small building, the chapel had no stained glass windows. At the front were the pulpit, the coffin, and a floral arrangement dominated by a large and striking guitar.

Dunlap Baptist Church is attended by Janie, Jimi's nine-year-old sister. The Hendrix family had determined funeral arrangements, and chose to do it very traditionally. Participants were the Rev. Harold Blackburn, Mrs. Freddie Maye Gautier, a close friend of the family, who read the eulogy, and Patronella Wright, another family friend, who sang three beautiful spirituals backed by a gospel piano.

In her eulogy, Mrs. Gautier read from Jimi's own works: "Electric Church" and "Angel." The latter is the last song Hendrix wrote and recorded at Electric Lady, his New York studios, before he left for Europe in August to play the Isle of Wight. It is an ominous song, even more so in the context in which it was read:

Angel came down from heaven
yesterday.

She stayed with me just Long enough to rescue me.
And she told me a story yesterday,
About the sweet love between the Moon and the deep sea.
And then she spread her wings High over me.
She said she's gonna come back
tomorrow.
And I said fly on my sweet angel,
Fly on through the sky,
Fly on my sweet angel,
Tomorrow I'm gonna be by your
side.


Sure enough this woman came back
to me,

Silver wings silhouetted against a
child's sunrise.
And my angel said to me,
Today is the day for you to rise.
Take my hand,
You're gonna be my man,
You're gonna rise.


Then she took me high over yonder.
And I said fly on my sweet angel,
Fly on through the sky,
Fly on my sweet angel,
Forever I will be by your side.


At the end of the short service, the people filed past the open casket and out of the church.

Then the pallbearers – Dave Anderson, James Thomas, Steve Phillips, Herbert Price, Eddy Howard, and Danny Howell – came out, bearing the coffin. With the exception of Price, who was Jimi's chauffeur and valet in Hawaii this summer when a film was being made, all were friends from Jimi's childhood.

From the church, the procession of perhaps 100 cars made the 20-minute drive to Greenwood Cemetery, in nearby Renton, where, after a few more words from Rev. Blackburn and a chorus of "When the Saints Go Marchin' In," Jimi Hendrix, age 27, was returned to the earth.

(Hendrix's birthdate on all his press biographies was listed as November 27th, 1945, when, in fact, he was born on November 27th, 1942, and was 27, not 24, when he died.)

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Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images
Jimi Hendrix's casket is followed by members of his family and childhood friends in Seattle, Washington.
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