Native Village
Youth and Education news
September 2010 Volume 4

Jimi Hendrix's patchwork coat heads to the Museum of the American Indian
http://voices.washingtonpost.com
Condensed by Native Village

Washington, D.C. -- Jimi Hendrix: Rock star. Woodstock. Crazy costumes. Greatest electric guitar player ever. Cherokee ancestry.

Jimi's half-sister, Janie, says part of her brother's great style came from his Native American roots.  "Having Native American culture is really important to our family," said Janie, 49, who heads Jimi Hendrix's Seattle-based estate.

Janie donated a few of Jimi's items to the National Museum of the American Indian for their exhibit, "Up Where We Belong: Native Musicians in Popular Culture." Among them is a full-length patchwork coat -- green, rust, blue, camel, pink and black suede with a fuchsia lining.

Jani said her brother got his fashion sense from their grandmother, who was part Cherokee. She played vaudeville and had a flamboyant collection of feather hats and flashy costumes.

"He loved suede, velvets and lots of color," Janie said.

The coat is one of the few personal items Jimi's family recovered after his death in 1970.

"When Jimi passed away, my dad went to his New York apartment," she said. "What came back was just a sliver of what Jimi had.  Friends and fans had taken most of Jimi's clothing and instruments. He had over 100 guitars and only a few of them came back home. His clothes were just in a big pile and people were just taking stuff."

Unlike many "artifacts" that show up in museums, this patchwork coat deserves attention. It's a rare, one-of-a-kind piece (obviously well-worn) from a rock icon, it's reflective of the era, and has never been displayed before.

"We've been saving this piece for some special exhibit," Janie said. "When this request came, it just felt natural."

Up Where We Belong: Native Musicians in Popular Culture
July 1, 2010–January 2, 2011
NMAI on the National Mall
Washington, D.C.


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