Elandra Meredith remembers a dark day in September 1970
In January 2013 I renewed contact with Vic Briggs (alias Antion) in order to get a second opinion about his memories concerning his first encounter with Jimi Hendrix in September 1966. I had lost his mail address but I managed to connect with his wife Elandra Meredith who passed messages on to him until Vic and I finally got it together.
Elandra follows the same spiritual path as Vic and together they now teach Yoga in New Zealand. They are also both in the process of writing their autobiographies and one day, out of the blue, Elandra told me that she mentions Jimi in her book and sent me this brief extract:
“The experience that most shook me to the core was finding myself in the house of Jimi Hendrix right after he died.
His distraught girlfriend, Monika Dannemann, was pacing back and forth and round and round chain-smoking. The room was thick with smoke and fear and horror.”
I nearly fell off my chair.
I have read many a Hendrix book (including Caesar Glebbeek’s recent investigation (“Until We Meet Again – The Last Weeks Of Jimi Hendrix”) about the circumstances surrounding his death and I have studied and participated in forum discussions about the subject but there has never been a mention of her being involved in the sequence of events.
I immediately bombarded Elandra with questions about what had happened and how she came to be there.
In the late 60s, Elandra’s name was Kirsten Lindholm (or her married name – Kirsten Betts) and she enjoyed an active career in New Zealand and London as a model and actress, appearing in films alongside the likes of Peter Sellars, Charlton Heston, Roman Polanski and John Gielgud. In 1970 she appeared in the first of many Hammer horror movies and was a regular in the TV series “Doctor In The House”.
Kirsten rubbed shoulders with the rich and famous, lived in the fashionable Mayfair district of London (so in the vicinity of the Samarkand Hotel) and was very much a part of the London nightlife scene. However, deep down, she felt that this wasn’t really her scene and to find some serenity she studied yoga, attending regular classes.
The following is what Elandra had to say about her encounter with the entourage of Jimi Hendrix on that fateful day.
Elandra: It seems there is really very little to tell, and yet it could be significant somehow. It’s only in hindsight that incidents of life seem so extraordinary. We have so many experiences and do not remember the details. And I never really thought about it since, not consciously, not till it came up as I was writing my book and mention it as one of the incidences which brought me to the point of leaving the world of the rich and famous, to eventually join Antion in the yoga world of spiritual consciousness and pursuit of truth.
I understand you don’t want to influence my memory, and it’s important to me to be as accurate as possible and not make up anything. My life is all about truth, as is Antion’s. It is so extraordinary, but some things you never forget, especially feelings, like the extreme tension and fear and horror in that room.
Remember that I am not one who has ever read about Hendrix or knows anything much about him, so cannot even put into any context what I remember.
When I wrote the incident for my book Antion supplied the name of Monika, I had not met her before, and I never thought about the date, just guessing that it was during the 2 years I was taking yoga classes, don’t know the date of the death of Hendrix.
As I said, the experience that most shook me to the core was finding myself in the house of Jimi Hendrix right after he died. His distraught girlfriend, Monika Danneman, was pacing back and forth and round and round chain-smoking. The room was thick with smoke and fear and horror.
That this beautiful man, a friend of Antion’s at the time, wondrous musician and spirit of the freedom-loving sixties had endured a ghastly end, choking on his own vomit, forcefully brought to my realization that hedonism had a terrible downside. Why was all this being shown me?”
Jim: How did you come to be at the apartment?
Elandra: I have wondered about it myself, why was I there and how did I get there…I have a sense of it only, but I too want to know! I clearly remember certain things! I was brought there by someone, a woman who must have believed I would be able to help Monika because of my yoga training. To help calm her down. So she must have known the yoga classes, and about me, maybe she was a student or a friend of a yoga student. The woman who picked me up and took me there was also in shock, a lot of tension, shaking hands.
Jim: Who was at the scene when you arrived?
Elandra: Strongest in memory: the apartment was not upstairs. It seemed not very large, the ceiling was low. The room was nice, elegant, furnished white, beige, two sofas both against the wall, and a coffee table. Perhaps the reason I remember this is that I would have liked to imagine he would be staying in a more spacious and luxurious place, so it surprised me and that’s why I remember, you know – it’s feelings that sharpen the memory, cause the association.
Monika was out of her mind with shock, distraught to the point of madness, pacing like crazy, smoking non stop with trembling hands. She seemed incapable of relating to anything.
Jim: While you were with Monika, do you think there was one other person there or many?
Elandra: Not sure, maybe a sense of someone else there speaking urgently, possibly talking about need to hurry… to pack…wanted her to hurry… so much tension…someone who did not appear or talk to me … Yes, could have been many there…
Jim: Did Monika say anything that you remember?
Elandra: Not sure, she was ranting, not sure what said, or what I said, I have the feeling I could not get her attention to even try to calm down, I may have talked about how yoga can help, tried to show her to breathe through her left nostril, by blocking off the right with her thumb…it is possible she sat down on the sofa with me and tried and felt a bit more calm…
Jim: What time of day was this ?
Elandra: It must have been the afternoon.
Jim: Did the person who took you there leave, or did you leave first?
Elandra: For sure she did not leave before me.
– Did you arrive there with anybody else (apart from this person)?
– Was there a police officer present?
– Did you see the bed?
– Do you remember seeing the announce of his death on the news or in the papers and thinking, yikes, I was actually there?
– The woman who drove you to Monika’s – do you remember how she contacted you?
– Do you remember what she looked like?
– Did you ever see her again after the event?
To all these questions, Elandra answered “No”.
(I showed Elandra a photo of Alvenia Bridges who might have taken her to the Samarkand but it didn’t ring a bell.)
Jim: Finally, do you think that it is possible that you weren’t there and that you might be confusing this with another event?
Elandra: So lets say if i am confusing it… I cannot imagine where/who else it was!? Where else had someone of celebrity status just died and been taken away and his woman in that state etc etc !? So i am totally convinced I was there, I would not imagine it and make it up, why should I?
I do wish I could remember more. Let me explain. You see when I wrote that for my book, (a book that is part memoir only) my consciousness was entirely focused on being as brief as possible – condensing everything including years into those few sentences. Focusing purely on my feelings and reasons for leaving that celebrity world. After leaving that world I had no attention in that direction, no interest in it.
Apart from these hazy recollections that is all that remains in Elandra’s memory of that terrible day. A year or so later she fell in love with Vic Briggs, who had become a Sikh and followed his spiritual path. She totally turned her back on the whole entertainment business and what happened on September 18, 1970 was almost completely forgotten.
So what to make of this? Elandra has clearly not made this up in order to add spice to her upcoming book. If that was her intention, she could have very easily researched on the internet in order to furnish a more elaborate account. Also, it was evident to me, when I posed her all the questions, that she had practically no knowledge of the the reported circumstances and the controversy surrounding the events of September 1970. All she had to go on was this hazy memory of a rushed visit to the “house”, as she remembered it, sometime between 1969 and 1971.
I was very careful not to influence Elandra’s memory in any way and when I asked on what floor of the house did the incident take place, she said that is wasn’t upstairs and the ceiling was low. So that did correspond with the description of the basement flat.
So how did Elandra come to be there? Who drove her there?
Those who have read about the last hours of Jimi Hendrix know that Monika called her friend Judy Wong (who was staying with Pat Hartley in Knightsbridge) to get the name of Jimi’s doctor when she had found that Jimi had been vomiting and impossible to wake. Judy didn’t have the information and gave a number to contact Alvenia Bridges (who was also a friend of Jimi’s and Eric Burdon’s girlfriend at the time). Alvinea answered the phone and she and Eric became closely involved in the unfolding events. As panic ensued, Alvenia took a taxi to the Samrkand to assist the hysterical, panicking Dannemann.
So, after the trauma of Jimi’s death, Monika was hysterical and in shock so we can suppose that Alvenia might have phoned around for help and somehow Kirsten’s name must have come up in relation to her yoga classes. Perhaps either Alvenia, Judy Wong, Pat Hartley or somebody else associated with this circle of friends, had recommended Kirsten as someone who understood yoga calming methods.
According to David Henderson’s book (“Scuse Me While I Kiss The Sky”) it says that in order to assist Monika, Alvenia had tried to contact Jimi’s road manager (Eric Barrett), Noel Redding (sic) and Mitch but failed. So she turned to Eric Burdon’s road manager Steve Gold and he lent Alvenia a car to help her to sort things out. Elandra remembers that a shaking woman drove her hurridly to the flat, so this could quite possibly have been Alvenia.
So thanks to this chance piece of information from Elandra, another piece of the puzzle falls into place, helping us to get a better understanding of happened, all those years ago.
Many thanks to Elandra for sharing her memories with us!
Elandra’s is the process of writing her autobiography:
“From Stardom to Wisdom:
Healing and Love beyond the Celebrity Spotlight” .
Elandra’s website, blog and on-line Health Healing Program: