Serious and concentrated in the chords, emulating his idol, Jimmy Hendrix, without the explosiveness that the man had that changed the way of playing the guitar in rock. This shows Paul Allen, the co-founder of Microsoft who died on Monday, a victim of cancer, in a photograph that fills the homepage of the MoPOP, the Museum of Pop Culture, which is what is called 2016, the venue dedicated to the music promoted by the billionaire and philanthropist.
Jimmy Hendrix was born in Seattle, the city of the American Pacific coast famous for the great tower, the Space Needle, recently filmed in the trilogy of Gray's shadows. After revolutionizing the rock scene for four years, Hendrix died in 1970, after an overdose of barbiturates. He was 27 years old, the same ones Kurt Cobain when the leader of Nirvana, also born in Seattle, committed suicide. Cobain also now has a small altar in the MoPOP. Allen was already a fan of Hendrix and was 22 years old when, in 1975, he founded Microsoft with Bill Gates, one of the most prosperous businesses ever created, and 30 when he left his job to fight the first of the two cancers that would affect him.
Allen and Gates, along with another famous and rival pair, formed by Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak, founders of Apple, symbolized the culture of the Silicon Valley garage, as obsessed with computers as with music. Since his departure from Microsoft, already a billionaire, Paul Allen was dedicated to start businesses that amused him and to invest in philanthropic causes. He bought an American football team and another from the NBA, which he was still controlling, Seattle Seahawks and the Portland Trail Blazers, respectively. For posterity leaves, however, this unique and undefinable Seattle museum that has never found its identity and has been suffering changes routinely, between reliquary, exhibition hall and laboratory of ideas, which was always the first intention of Allen.
First it was the Museum of Music, then the Museum of Musical Experience, now the MoPop. But without doubt it is one of the great attractions to visit in the rainy city of Seattle if you are a fan of rock music or if you travel with children. For some skeptics, the venue, opened in 2000 Right next to the Space Needle, it was poorly developed from its conception. The curvilinear structure of Frank Ghery, the same one that designed the Guggenheim, has always aroused more criticism than praise, but it is still an essential work to understand the avant-garde architect of the rough facades and the titanium plates. Although Ghery said he was inspired by the stratocaster guitars crushed on the floor by many rockers, a journalistic critic decided the fate of the building: it looks like a creature that has left the sea, has set to lie down and has died, came to say the New York Times specialist.
Like or dislike the twisted silhouette of the MoPOP, there are enough curiosities to attract visitors. For those who are not too fans of the rock world, the collection of memorabilia can remind you of a Hard Rock Café in a big way. But there are winks even for the least addicted. Like the tree-sculpture of the entrance formed by pieces of guitar, accordions and batteries that climbs up to the roof of the second floor.
And, of course, the great experience of the museum, the Sound Lab, a space with simulators where to dare with the guitar and, alone or with more friends that complete the band, play before a virtual audience and experience the same sensations as the rockers in their concerts. Children and teenagers line up to feel like rock stars for a day.
Over the years, the MoPOP has been enriched with science fiction exhibitions – there is a place of worship for Star Trek– and the universe of superheroes and spaces for the exchange of ideas and projects, such as Sky Church -another tribute to Hendrix- or the Blue Lounge. Do not miss the original Hendrix Fender or the spaces dedicated to Nirvana and Pearl Jam, the other Seattle international band of this century.
After discovering the temple of music, you can tour the historic port of Seattle that was boarding the adventures of the gold rush in Alaska, the traditional Pike market and, between rain and rain, take refuge in the countless coffee shops, and even enter the First Starbucks of the world, which opened in Seattle in 1970.