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Remembering Jimi Hendrix

Jimi Hendrix
Hulton Archive, Getty Images

It was 43 years ago today (September 18th, 1970), that Jimi Hendrix died at the age of 27, about two months shy of his 28th birthday. Over 40 years later, the events surrounding his death remain sketchy at best, with the only clear fact being that the coroner report stated that Hendrix had asphyxiated in his own vomit, which mainly consisted of red wine. Monika Dannemann, his girlfriend at the time, has long contended that he was alive when placed in the ambulance.

Hendrix fans are in for a treat this fall with a new American Masters special airing on PBS. The two-hour documentary, Jimi Hendrix: Hear My Train A Comin,’ will be released on DVD on November 5th — the day of its TV premiere — along with the new concert CD culled from Hendrix’s two concert appearances on May 18th, 1968 as part of the Miami Pop Festival. The two new releases cap off the year-long commemoration of what would’ve been Hendrix’s 70th birthday. Back in March, the guitarist’s latest vault release, People, Hell And Angels, debuted at Number Two on the Billboard 200 album charts.

Earlier this summer fans welcomed the latest Jimi Hendrix “official bootleg” sold through AuthenticHendrix.com. The collection, Live In Cologne, which has been bootlegged numerous times over the years, is more of a historical curio for die-hards than an audiophile’s delight, having been recorded on January 13th, 1969 in Cologne, Germany by a fan using a single microphone in the audience. The set was released on 180-gram vinyl with a digital download as a web exclusive.

ODD CIRCUMSTANCES OF HENDRIX’S DEATH

Hendrix aide James “Tappy” Wright claimed in his recent memoir Rock Roadie that Hendrix’s final manager Michael Jeffery confessed to killing the legendary guitarist a year after Hendrix’s death in September 1970. According to Wright, Jeffery claimed that he plied a semi-conscious Hendrix with enough pills and alcohol to kill him so that he could collect insurance money and not risk Hendrix breaking their management agreement.

Wright, who also roadied for Elvis Presley and Tina Turner, among others, said that Jeffery said in his confession: “I had to do it, Tappy. You understand, don’t you? I had to do it. You know damn well what I’m talking about. . . I was in London the night of Jimi’s death and together with some old friends . . . we went round to Monika’s (Dannemann’s) hotel room, got a handful of pills and stuffed them into his mouth . . . then poured a few bottles of red wine deep into his windpipe. I had to do it. Jimi was worth much more to me dead than alive. That son of a bitch was going to leave me. If I lost him, I’d lose everything.”

Jeffery, who died in 1971, had told Wright that he had taken out a $2 million policy out on Hendrix, which named him as the chief beneficiary.

The official cause of Hendrix’s death was “barbiturate intoxication and inhalation of vomit.”
The events surrounding Hendrix’s death have always been shady, especially when it comes to how Hendrix was found and who exactly called for an emergency crew — neither things which are ever out of the ordinary in an O.D. case.

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