The James Marshall "Jimi" Hendrix Post Office is less than a mile from where the legendary guitarist is buried in Greenwood Memorial Park cemetery.
No amount of public memorials may ever match the cultural impact Jimi Hendrix had during his all-too-short life, but that hasn’t stopped local officials from further cementing his legacy around our region. Once a leading figure of the counterculture viewed warily by the federal government, the music icon will now have a post office near his hometown named after him.
Last week a bill was signed into law re-christening the Renton Highlands Post Office the James Marshall “Jimi” Hendrix Post Office in the legendary guitarist’s honor. The bill, which passed unanimously, was sponsored by Rep. Adam Smith, D-Bellevue, and supported by both of Washington’s U.S. senators, Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell.
“I am honored to join in paying tribute to rock and roll icon and Seattle native Jimi Hendrix with the renaming of the Renton Highlands Post Office as the James Marshall ‘Jimi’ Hendrix Post Office Building,” Smith said in a statement. “This designation will further celebrate Hendrix’s deep connection to the Puget Sound region and help ensure that his creative legacy will be remembered by our community and inspire future generations.”
Before rising to international fame in the late 1960s, Hendrix grew up in Seattle, spending much of his youth in the Central District and attending Garfield High School. There’s no shortage of Hendrix tributes scattered around his hometown — from the statue on Broadway to his namesake park adjacent to the Northwest African American Museum (NAAM) — etching “Seattle’s most recognizable son,” as the museum’s director LaNesha DeBardelaben described him, into the city’s history. The Renton post office is less than a mile from the Jimi Hendrix Memorial in the Greenwood Memorial Park cemetery, where the guitar hero is buried.
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“His legendary artistic genius chartered new territory within world music,” said DeBardelaben in a statement supporting the bill. “While his reach was international in scope, his roots trace back to Seattle and we are proud to richly celebrate his legacy as part of his hometown community.”
Earlier this fall, NAAM unveiled its own tribute to Hendrix’s legacy. In partnership with Hendrix’s estate, the “Bold as Love: Jimi Hendrix at Home” exhibition, which runs through May 5, 2019, offers an intimate look into the star’s upbringing. While the exhibit touches on Hendrix’s well-documented London stint — including a replica of his signature British cavalry jacket — that helped launch him into the stratosphere, the real draw is the half focusing on his early years in Seattle.
Though some of the hardships of Hendrix’s “transient childhood” are glossed over, a rosy portrayal of his early days in and around the Central District comes alive through family artifacts and photos, including a shot of a young Hendrix in uniform with his football coach (and future Washington governor) Booth Gardner. Numerous paintings and drawings of nature scenes and Seafair hydroplanes showed Hendrix’s creativity wasn’t limited to one medium while highlighting his hometown connection. “Bold as Love” also traces Hendrix’s flamboyant fashion sense to his infatuation with his grandmother’s collection of vaudeville attire she wore while singing with the Dixieland Spectacle — an all-black vaudeville troupe that led the Hendrix family to the Northwest.
Sure to please Hendrix buffs are handwritten letters and postcards he sent home while touring as a sideman, some of which have informed the documentaries and biographies since his death in 1970. Still, “Bold as Love” provides enough of an abbreviated overview of Hendrix’s career — from recording sessions with the Isley Brothers to some of his major hometown concerts — to serve the uninitiated, with an eye toward his Seattle roots.
The James Marshall “Jimi” Hendrix Post Office is located at 4301 N.E. Fourth St., Renton.
“Bold as Love: Jimi Hendrix at Home,” through May 5, 2019; Northwest African American Museum, 2300 S. Massachusetts St., Seattle; Wednesdays-Sundays 11 a.m.-5 p.m., open until 7 p.m. Thursdays; $5-$7, free for members and children 3 and younger; 206-518-6000, naamnw.org