Anyone looking for a home right now might come across an ad for "Jimi Hendrix's brother's house" on local real estate Web sites. That would be eye-catching enough, but the description adds even more intrigue. Instead of the usual hype--something like "immaculate charmer with spacious dining room and decorator's colors"--it reads: "House is full of trash. No water or power, and needs repairs. Preforesclosure [sic]." The modest Wedgwood split-level fronted by towering evergreens is priced at just under $500,000.
By phone from Los Angeles, where he says he is working on a script for a movie about the famous guitarist's life, Jimi's half-brother, Leon Hendrix, confirms that the house at 9602 25th Ave. N.E. is his. The 59-year-old Hendrix says he bought it 35 years ago, shortly after he got married. "I lived there a long time. But we split up," he says, referring to his ex-wife.
Hendrix moved out about 10 years ago, and the house has been totally vacant for the last couple of years. Meanwhile, he says, his debts have been piling up, leading to the aforementioned foreclosure, a situation that wasn't helped by his failed lawsuit to win a share of his brother's estate. (References to Jimi are all over Leon's MySpace page: www.myspace.com/leonhendrixband. His band, the Leon Hendrix Mysterience, will play at the Columbia City Theater on Nov. 27 in honor of what would have been Jimi's 65th birthday.)
As for the trash described in the ad, Leon blames it on in-laws and friends of his six kids, aged 16 to 34. "People kept going in there and camping out," he says, which also explains why he turned the water and electricity off.
The ad is not exaggerating. On the linoleum floor of the tiny home's kitchen is a torn-open trash bag, from which junk-food containers are spilling out. Beer cans lie on one counter, dirty dishes on another. Elsewhere, the house is filled with old furniture, boxes, and pieces of paper strewn on the floor. "It would cost $10,000 to clean that thing up," says Hendrix's Windermere agent, Nick Upshaw, explaining why he didn't do it himself.
Upshaw says he's received a lot of interest in the house, but no offers. "At this point, I haven't been able to determine the value of the Jimi Hendrix name," he says. "Leon Hendrix figures he could take a spoon and say, 'Jimi Hendrix picked it up,' and it's now worth $500. He was insistent on making sure it was known that it was a Hendrix relative who owned the property."