Featured in Issue 3, Masquerade Magazine –
I was always aware of who Jimi Hendrix was as a child even though he had died well before I was born. It was only when in my teens that my friends and I began to indulge in Jimi’s music more. Along with Pink Floyds ‘Dark side of the moon’ and Bob Marleys ‘Uprising’, Jimi’s music provided the backdrop for our musical exploration and experimentation.
Jim Morrison – Overdose, died in bathtub, Mama Cass – Heart attack in sleep, Janis Joplin – Jack Daniels and heroin overdose. Rock stars deaths were always glamourised as cool when I was young and Jimi’s death was no exception. We were told Jimi Hendrix died on his own vomit due to his gluttonous nature, leaving this mortal coil at his peak and iconised forever just like James Dean and Marilyn Monroe.
Jimi lived the Sex, Drugs and Rock n Roll lifestyle to the fullest, with his gluttonous desires needing fulfilling on a regular basis. His close friend Devon Wilson – a muse to various bands of the 60’s, drug dealer and madam, would supply him with his drugs (It has been said that Devon could score dope in any part of the world). She would also organise groupies for Jimi to have sex with. It would be normal for him to return home to a room full of naked women to wait on him, pamper and please him. Jimi loved his drugs too, marijuana, alcohol and particularly LSD. He absolutely loved to trip, so much so that it was claimed he once injected LSD straight into his temple for ‘a more complete high’. So when the initial reports of his death emerged, it was more or less taken for granted that he died as a result of his immense cravings.
But years later, an exert from a book called ‘Rock Roadie’ by former roadie James ‘Tappy’ Wright claims Jimi’s former manager Mike Jeffrey confessed to him to being responsible for Jimi’s death. This new information suggests foul play rather than death by Jimi’s excessive gluttony.
Lets go back to the night before Jimi died. It was 17th September 1970. Jimi’s latest girlfriend, an ex German Ice skater called Monika Dannerman who was with him at the time, stated he had spent the latter part of the evening at a party and was picked up by her and driven to her flat at the Samarkand Hotel, 22 Lansdowne Crescent, Notting Hill around 3am.
Dannemann was first introduced to Hendrix after being invited to one of his concerts and a relationship soon blossomed. Dannemann is known for being the last person to have seen Jimi Hendrix alive. Her comments about the morning of the 18th September were often contradictory, varying from interview to interview.
Dannemann claimed in her original testimony that after they returned to her lodgings, Hendrix, unknown to her had taken nine of her prescribed Vesperax sleeping pills. The normal medical dose was half a tablet, but Hendrix was unfamiliar with this very strong German brand.
She publicly claimed that she had discovered her unclothed lover, unconscious and unresponsive sometime after 9:00 am on the 18th September, She phoned for an ambulance and said that Hendrix was alive when placed in the back of the ambulance after half past eleven, and that she rode with him on the way to the hospital.
Police and ambulance statements since reveal that there was no one but Hendrix in the flat when they arrived at 11:27 am, and not only was he dead when they arrived on the scene, but was fully clothed and had been dead for some time.
Why was Monika lying? what did she have to hide? what did she know?
At the time of Hendrix’s death, a coroner recorded an open verdict, stating that the cause was ‘barbiturate intoxication and inhalation of vomit’.
But 22 years later another of Hendrix’s old girlfriends Kathy Etchingham, not content with the official verdict, re-examined the original statements and tracked down the ambulance men who turned up at the flat in Notting Hill (surprisingly they were never asked to give evidence at the original inquest into Jimi’s death). She suggested that blame should be put on Dannemann.
In 1996 Dannemann was convicted of breaking a British High Court order not to repeat allegations that Kathy Etchingham was an ‘inveterate liar’ for accusing her of playing a role in Hendrix’s death. Etchingham asked the judge to jail Dannemann but she was released. Two days later Dannemann was found dead in a fume-filled Mercedes-Benz near her cottage in Seaford, East Sussex, aged 50, her death was ruled a suicide. Monika Dannemann had taken the truth of what happened to one of the worlds greatest muisicians to her grave.
That was until a former ‘Animals’ roadie, James ‘Tappy’ Wright, published a book in May 2009 claiming Hendrix’s manager, Mike Jeffery, admitted to him a year after Jimi’s death that he had Hendrix killed because the rock star wanted to end his management contract. It is alleged that Jeffery siphoned off much of Hendrix’s income and channeled it into off-shore bank accounts and that he had dubious connections to US intelligence services, (it has been claimed he worked for MI5, British Secret Intelligence and that he had connections to European organised crime. Once when Experience bassist Noel Redding inquired as to where Jeffery was going with briefcases full of the bands money, he was asked to leave the band).
Jeffrey allegedly made the confession to Wright in 1971, two years before he was killed in a plane crash. Writing of the admission in his book, Tappy says: “I can still hear that conversation, see the man I’d known for so much of my life, his face pale, hand clutching at his glass in sudden rage.”
Jeffrey is quoted by Wright as telling him: “I was in London the night of Jimi’s death and together with some old friends.. we went round to Monika’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.”
He said he was worried that Hendrix was about to sack him and that Hendrix was becoming increasingly more aware that he was stealing from him. Jeffrey had recently taken out a life insurance policy worth $2 million, with himself as beneficiary. “I had to do it. Jimi was worth much more to me dead than alive,” said Jeffrey. “That son of a b*tch was going to leave me. If I lost him, I’d lose everything.”
This claim was given added weight when Dr. John Bannister, the doctor who attended the scene of his death in 1970 came forth and stated publicly in 2009 “The amount of wine was just extraordinary. Not only was it saturated right through his hair and shirt but his lungs and stomach were absolutely full of wine.’ He said “I have never seen anyone die before from drowning in their own red wine.”
Corroborating ‘Tappy’ Wright’s story, the doctor’s comments point to a strong possiblity that Jimi actually died from forced inhalation of copious amounts of red wine. It could also explain why Dannemanns statement was so confusing. The thought of being targeted next and in fear for her life may have led her to fabricate a different sequence of events.
If you put together Mike Jeffreys alleged confession to Tappy Wright, the ever changing statements from Monika Dannemann and the newly established statements from the Ambulance men and medics, you could easily assume this to be the definitive explanation in to the death of Jimi Hendrix. It is not conclusive however, but as far as I am concerned, I believe this to be the case.
The biggest crime of all is knowing that Jimi Hendrix was taken from us not by his own hand but by a greedy, manipulative shyster intent on protecting his own interests.
Jimi Hendrix could have given us so much more!