Groundbreaking Concert Features Seattle Legends

June 13 [10:00 EDT] -- The groundbreaking ceremony for the 130,000 square foot Experience Music Project gets underway in Seattle today with surprise performances from Pacific Northwest legends the original Kingsmen, MudHoney and the soon to be legendary (well, maybe) Presidents of the United States of America.

The massive music museum is the brainchild of Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen, a self-professed Jimi Hendrix fanatic and the owner of much Hendrix memorabilia. It was originally planned as a the Jimi Hendrix Museum, a shrine to the late guitarist in conjunction with the Hendrix family, but the two factions had a parting of the ways and Allen has proceeded with the non-profit project as a general tribute to the music of the Pacific Northwest.

Artists hailing from the area include Hendrix, Nirvana, Ray Charles, Heart, The Ventures, The Kingsmen, Sir Mix-A-Lot, Soundgarden, Pearl Jam, Alice in Chains, Queensryche, Bing Crosby, Kenny G., Robert Cray and many more.

The venue will lie at the northern base of Seattle's Space Needle. The design has been in progress since 1992, the final version is being unveiled today. The building is expected to be completed in 1999.

Curator Peter Blecha says the facility will be shying away somewhat from the usual memorabilia fare of costumed mannequins in rockstar clothing and will center more on interactive multimedia history and education. Blecha says the museum has already acquired such things as the mixing board Nirvana used to record its first album, and the Fender Stratocaster guitar Jimi Hendrix played at Woodstock in addition to films, posters, instruments, magazines and recordings.

The Experience Music Project works in tandem with the Experience Music Project Foundation, which supports regional nonprofit arts, music and educational organizations.

The Hendrix family, meanwhile, who sought the rights to the Hendrix legacy in court (after losing them shortly after Jimi Hendrix's death)

and won, oddly enough with the help of the now-estranged Paul Allen, intends to present its own projects. Hendrix's sister, Janie Hendrix-Wright, who says the parting of the ways was a business decision and the two factions remain amicable, says one such family endeavor is a tribute concert tentatively scheduled in New York for later this summer.

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