The Mike Jeffery murder conspiracy and other nonsense
As we have seen on the previous page, we have the proof that Hendrix wasn’t murdered, yet the fantasy that Mike Jeffery had him killed is still out there. So this page is necessary to get a clearer picture of Jimi’s manager.
Unlike Chas Chandler, Jeffery was totally disconnected from what Jimi did creatively but he knew that it was the good old Jimi Hendrix Experience that sold millions of records and packed stadiums. However, the band split up in June 1969 and Jimi then spent about 10 months off the road, taking his time jamming and slowly fashioning a new studio album, much to the frustration of the record companies and Jeffery who naturally became impatient. The pressure was on.
Since crafting his 1968 masterpiece album Electric Ladyland, the final word in psychedelic blues-rock, Jimi had been suffering from a creative block, indecision, loss of self-esteem and drug/alcohol excess. He grew more paranoid and felt that he couldn’t trust anyone around him. In the book “Electric Gypsy” it says that he even thought that Jeffery would kill him if he didn’t release material that was commercial enough! Not only that, it’s said that Jimi even “sought out some disreputable drug connections to enquire about hiring a hit man”! So relations were tense to say the least. In his book, Noel Redding said that The Experience had considered separating themselves from Jeffery before the band’s demise in the summer of 1969. Sharon Lawrence said that she accompanied Jimi to discuss with attorney (Henry Steingarten) about how to extricate himself from all ties with Jeffery (management and Electric Lady Studios).
Jeffery has gone down in Hendrix folklore as being the man who exploited and totally ripped-off Hendrix. However, when one reads the accounts of all those who worked with the two, a different picture emerges. It transpires that Jimi had all the money in the world that he needed for his various excess and he spent it like crazy. Jimi had everything set up for him, with his own business interests that were mostly independent of his manager. However Jeffery was in that Hendrix office, close to the finances.
When Yameta’s lawyers were commissioned to look into Jeffery’s activities in relation to Hendrix (who was just one of his numerous enterprises) they found nothing illegal going on but a lot of money was missing. So much money (sometimes paid in suitcases full of cash after concerts) didn’t find its way to Yameta or the slightly later Are You Experience Ltd (Jimi’s own organisation). Jeffery was famous for his tactics of confusion and concealment so the finger would always point to him. Jimi’s trust in Jeffery eventually ran out. He feared that financial mismanagement would send everything into crisis with the taxman and having Jeffery in the thick of all the activities certainly wasn’t reassuring.
Jimi had become the highest earning musician of all by the late 60s, with his successful varied repertoire which included numerous Top 20 hits all around the planet. It was these high-profile songs that the multitude of fans wanted to hear again and again, even three years after their original release. This became a weight round Jimi’s neck. However he would always play those songs to satisfy his beloved fans right up to the end, to give them their money’s worth – money that he desperately needed to finance his new studio and pay his mounting legal debts and advances. Jeffery was also aware that the Jimi Hendrix Experience with all their great hits was the winning act for the tours and he would openly show discontent and even fear when he felt that Jimi might stray from that magic money-making formula. Jimi had successfully built his little empire around himself but Jeffery needed his precious percentages as manager. So Hendrix and Jeffery simply didn’t see eye-to-eye anymore, which was very uncomfortable as they were 50-50 partners in Electric Lady Studio and tied together legally well into the 70s.
Looking deeper into the facts, the interviews with those involved, a clearer picture of the manager appears. Mike Jeffery was like a typical war-time “spiv”, a wheeler and dealer, a hustler, a money-maker but as well as that, he was an intuitive businessman with a flair for talent. Those who experienced his methods say that he was a master of smoke-screen tactics, manipulation and intimidation, especially in relation to young hungry pop artists who were desperate to make it big. A nasty piece of work by all accounts but the information and misinformation about him has led him to be designated as Jimi’s murderer. Nonsense of course because as we have seen on the previous page, Jimi wasn’t murdered at all!
So all the information about him deserves a closer look. The popular myths just melt away.
Where did the all the money go?
This is a long section unfortunately, because it’s the only way to get an idea about what happened.
A music business tradition
John McDermott said (in “Setting The Record Straight”) that Jeffery “…was far from the tyrant thief many writers have painted him”. Jeffery was known as a devious character but many have the misguided impression that his money-grabbing tactics were exceptional in the music business but this type of exploitation of musicians was (and is still) very common. Many groups of the 60s and 70s were victims of unscrupulous managers that profited greatly from their efforts: The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, The Small Faces, Cream, Bowie, Queen, Blondie,… all had stories to tell of how they were ripped off by their managers. In the Classic Artists documentary about Cream, Journalist Chris Welch comments on the break-up of Cream in the late 60s: “Jack (Bruce) has said since that one of the reasons for Cream breaking up when they did was that they were over-worked and under-paid and I’m sure that was true of most bands in those days”. Jack Bruce: “We were just on the road working very hard. We didn’t really have any time to enjoy the fruits of our success… By the time there was a lot of fruit from that success, it had been nicked by Robert Stigwood”. Jack went on to say: “The Beatles, for their first records were getting a half of 1% between all of them. So I think we may have been getting a similar amount. Deals and contracts weren’t very generous to the artists in those days”.
Young artists with no record contract, seemingly no future, would jump at the chance of getting signed, and they wouldn’t spend enough time reading the small print or couldn’t understand some of the legally binding jargon on the contracts. The consequences of this would come back at them later as the hits rolled in, but the millions of dollars didn’t. Manager/impresario Don Arden (The Small Faces), known for his money-making tactics, once said “You can’t exploit anyone who doesn’t want to be exploited.” As a 1975 Melody Maker article (State Of Rock) declared: “At the heart of the Rock Dream is a cash-register.”
So artist exploitation was nothing unique as regards Mike Jeffery and Jimi Hendrix. It has always been the nature of the business, even if some artists deftly managed to secure their interests.
Nightclubs a go go
Mike Jeffery’s main interest was creating and managing nightclubs. In Newcastle, it had been the Club A’Gogo, then clubs in Spain (notably the Sgt. Pepper’s Club). In New York it was The Generation Club which was shelved to become Electric Lady Studios. The artists that he managed, knowingly signed contracts which gave him very generous rights and salaries. On occasion, the lines blurred between what was the artist’s enterprises and what was Jeffery’s personal projects.
Yameta and money matters
John Hillman (who set up and managed Yameta as a tax haven for The Animals’ revenue) says of Jeffery: “Part of his trouble was that he was untidy. He did a whole lot of side deals, some on behalf of Yameta, some not. He did divert funds, there’s no question of that, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that he stole anything”. (3) Hillman also said “Jeffery was a loveable rogue…his actions could be reprehensible at times, but when I confronted him, he’d throw up his hands and say – ‘OK, you (or they) caught me. Now help me get out of it’ -“.
Yameta was in fact a subsidiary of The Caicos Trust Company Ltd., of which Jeffery was an employee as were The Animals, Chas and Jimi. Jeffery didn’t own Yameta at all and the off-shore company took between 5 and 10% of the incoming money as an administration fee. From Electric Gypsy: “Increasingly, Yameta, which was in effect an artist’s management company, became reponsible for paying all the expenses which accrue to an artist – promoter, agents, hotels, travel, publicity, legal and accounting fees, management (Chandler-Jeffery as well as the London and New York office staff and premises), production fees and so on – in which case up to 40% would be sliced off the gross income.”
Initially Jeffery had shares in Yameta but for the lawful tax-avoidance scheme to function he (and Chas) became simply employees of the company on a salary. Jimi was also signed to Yameta as an employee. Noel and Mitch were paid for specific sessions and performances by the Hendrix/Chandler/Jeffery office and not by Yameta directly.
Mike and Chas soon regretted the situation and set up Jeffery and Chandler Inc. in an effort to by-pass Yameta and access the funds more easily. John Hillman of Yameta eventually found out and the two managers were reprimanded. Noel said in his book that Jeffery “had exceeded his authority in using Yameta as his own operation.” In an early March entry in his diary, Noel says “Jeffrey and Chandler have settled again with Yameta and they are bound owing $20,425, which they intend to pay out of Jimi’s (and Mitch’s and my) money due in from Sealark, Warner and GAC (bookings). They get Jimi to agree this at a meeting in New York.”(8) So this is proof that whatever Jeffery got up to with the money, he was answerable to Yameta AND Jimi was fully aware of it and was called in to approve of decisions that were made.
For their investigation into Jeffery & Chandler Inc., Yameta had hired an accounting firm called Price Waterhouse. They found that money was being moved (by Jeffery of course) but didn’t arrive at the destinations. However they found nothing – no fraud or embezzlement.
Because thousand of pounds and dollars had been put up by Yameta (and personally by Jeffery, Chandler, John Hillman and Lee Dicker) in order to create, promote, equip, house and feed The Jimi Hendrix Experience, all that money had to be reimbursed once the band began to bring in a lot of cash (which was well into 1968!).
Money in circulation
Jeffery’s personal assistant Trixie Sullivan explains in the same book how Jeffrey would use money from his activities, including those that didn’t involve Hendrix, into other projects. Even very early on, Jeffrey was using any cash he had to settle previous debts back in Newcastle, debts concerning The Animals and his real estate investments, his nightclubs,…
Sullivan also explained that Jeffery had made a fortune in his Newcastle club (thanks to a popular residency by the group Los Bravos) and the proceeds were used to to create The Sergent Pepper Club in Spain in 1968. Also, when Ed Chalpin was claiming compensation for Jimi having jumped contract when he signed to Jeffrey/Chandler/Track Records/Reprise Records (Warner), Jeffrey tried to cut a deal with Warner Brothers to make sure that the Experience money didn’t go to Yameta. This was because even Jeffrey didn’t have easy access to the money that was fed into Yameta. He wasn’t sure where the money was going either! Noel Redding (in his autobiography): “They [Chandler and Jeffrey] felt that Yameta’s administration charges were too costly, that the accounts were poorly kept and that until the Yameta operation was reoganised, no money could flow from the Warner Brothers agreement.”
From 1969, this is from the January 29th issue of Rolling Stone: “Jeffery, however, says that it was Yameta, a Bahamian management firm, that is unable to account for the money that (Eric) Burdon says is missing, and that he, Jeffery, lost out as well. Jeffery also says that he offered to jointly sue Yameta with Burdon, but Burdon turned around and filed suit against him instead.”
So much for the looney conspiracy theory that Jeffrey using the Yameta organisation to gather money from rock musician in order to feed it to COINTELPRO activities (queue hilarious laughter).
When Jeffrey set up office in the U.S.A. he had an expert team of accountants and lawyers around him and they helped Jimi and Jeffrey get out of the Yameta Bahamas account and tax tangles by setting up a new corporation called Are You Experienced? Ltd. This was established FOR JIMI (with full approval from Jeffrey) in order to collect and control his earnings, as well as pay his taxes and expenses. Of course Jeffrey received his 20% management commission (which Jimi had agreed to in the beginning). As money poured into the corporation’s account, once management, backing musicians fees, studio time and expenses were taken out, the profits, the majority of the money went directly to Jimi. This arrangement contributed to making Jimi very rich, which we know from interviews wasn’t his priority at all – it was merely a consequence of his success.
So Jimi had all the money in the world and he used it. His ultimate investment with all this cash was of course his dream studio Electric Lady and in 1969 to 1970 he diverted hundreds of thousands of dollars into the construction. Unfortunately, this came at a time when he wasn’t touring (the ten to eleven months between June 1969 and April 1970) and hadn’t put an album ut since September 1968! Jeffery, as partner in Electric Lady had put up “the lion’s share” of the money according to John McDermott (2) but in the book Electric Gypsy it says that Jimi was initially obliged to put up a whopping $250,000. Whatever, between them, Hendrix and Jeffery spent $369,000 [3 million dollars in today’s money] on the studio but further unexpected expenses (flooding from an underground stream and noise from the New York subway) led them to borrow another $300,000 from Warner Brothers!
The Ed Chalpin problem
Another thing which drained hundreds of thousands of dollars from the Hendrix organisation was the legal proceedings and settlement with Ed Chalpin’s PPX Enterprises. In the summer of 1968, all of the Hendrix royalties for Warner Brothers and his tour revenue was frozen by the judges. So neither Jimi, Jeffery or anyone was getting rich off that! When that case was later settled, Chalpin was granted royalties on all Hendrix releases until 1972 (retro-active to include the profits made from the band’s first two albums), full rights to the next Hendrix album (which turned out to be Band Of Gypsys) plus payment of $250, 000. With Jimi taking almost a year off touring, it’s no surprise that the Hendrix organisation was cash-strapped to say the least, especially with the colossal loans for the construction of Electric Lady (for which Jeffrey and Hendrix had also personally invested hundreds of thousands of dollars).
Jimi’s business interests
As mentioned above, when it became apparent that Yameta wasn’t working satisfactorily, Are You Experienced Ltd. was created to replace it and the organisation belonged 100% to Jimi, not Jeffery.
Jimi also had his own production royalties and a publishing company for his songs called Bella Godiva, which was totally separate from Jeffrey, Are You Experienced, Warner or anything else. The money rolled in for Jimi big time and he would spend a small fortune on buying Corvette Stingrays, top of the range stereo systems, televisions, guitars, clothes,… and that project of Electric Lady Studios.
Interviewer John Grant (for N.M.E. in March ’69) asked Jimi what he was doing with all his money. Jimi replied “I’m buying houses with most of it. I’m having a house built for myself in the Canyon in Hollywood with all round rooms, but others are just investments”. Even if these plans didn’t seem to have come to fruition, it shows that Jimi had no issues about lack of funds!
So, Jimi certainly wasn’t the gullible slave that many make him out to be.
Jimi also fixed up a special deal with the tour management companies Concerts West and Concerts East. This was Jimi’s own deal and Jeffery had no stake in it. He made thousands of dollars from the deal.
Concerts West manager Tom Hulett is quoted saying: “I give Hendrix credit for introducing a whole new way of doing business, where the artist made most of the money. … All of a sudden, the middle man was cut out and Hendrix made more money.” – “Hendrix was far more than the black marionette, as some have intimated, pushed on the stage, night after night for the benefit of his tyrant-like manager.” – “Jimi Hendrix was not only putting up the money to stage his own concerts, but he was making more money than any other artist in the business.” – “I would call up and clear dates with Weiss, who would clear them with Gerry Stickells, who in turn would let Hendrix know where we were going to play”. – “We made the tours as comfortable as we could for him”. (2)
Jimi would follow closely what was going on with his various business interest. Bob Levine: “I never saw a problem for Jimi to get money within reason. If he had it in the bank, Michael Hecht would give it to him. He just had to ask for it and sign a receipt. These were required because Jimi wanted to know where the money was and where it went. He accepted the system because Hecht had comme recommended from Henry Steingarten, whose word he trusted as honest and proper.” (2)
Eddie Kramer on Electric Lady Studios: “He was very proud of that studio. Being a black man of his stature, making a lot of money and owning your own studio in New York City – that was the pinnacle of success for him.”
SPEND, SPEND, SPEND!
As Shapiro/Glebbeek pointed out, Jimi knew that the finance issues weren’t clear but “he always had what he needed – as many guitars as he wanted, the latest gadgets and effects… cars, unlimited studio time” – which cost a fortune – “and all road, leisure and living expenses. The bills just went straight to the office.” That reminds one of the character Ron Decline from The Rutles’ All You Need Is Cash’ : “Don’t ask where the money is. I don’t know where it is. But if you want some money, I’ll give you some money.”
Trixie Sullivan (Jeffrey’s assistant) in Charles R. Cross’s book: “The problem was, we never even knew how much money we had and the way they all lived, including Mike and Jimi, was ‘Let’s spend it all now….Jimi might spend $10,000 in a boutique on a girl he just met and never see her again.”.
Jimi was very generous to those close to him as well. In 1968, he paid Fayne Pridgeon’s rent for her and he sent $10,000 to his father to buy a new house, car and truck. He also donated $50,000 dollars to the Martin Luther King foundation.
Noel (from his book): “Jimi always spent money like there was no tomorrow. He’d overdraw his account and funds would be transferred from either Mitch’s account or mine to cover him.” In Electric Gypsy, Noel is also quoted saying: “The problem with Mitch, and with Jimi too, is that they never saved any money. As fast as they got it, it was spent…but no me mate, I’ve got me Rolls and quite a kitty in the bank.”
Jimi expressed his feelings about money to Ray Coleman in February 1969 “We’ll still go on making money and use it as we see fit. I don’t really care if I starve tomorrow. What’s money except a piece of paper, just like a marriage license.”(8) and in March 1969 he told the Detroit Free Press “I put any value on money or let it rule me.”(8)
As late as July 1970, he told his old family friend Freddie Mae Gautier that he didn’t take care of the money and that his manager did. He told her “It’s no big thing, ‘cos whenever I need some, Michael gives it to me”. So right up till the end, Jimi was OK with the money situation regarding Mike Jeffrey. As Charles R. Cross said in his book “He had made millions but also spent millions.”
Charles R. Cross: “Though the Experience were earning increasingly large paydays, expenses had also ballooned and the entire operation seemed moments away from collapse…When Jimi would hear that the gate for a particular concert was $10, 000, he would frequently spend that amount on jewellery or clothes without taking into account the expenses of putting on a show or the 10% that went to Jeffrey’s offshore company Yameta* for management fees…Their bills for limousines alone ran thousands per month…The band’s tab at London’s Speakeasy, where they would eat most meals, ran upwards of $4,000 dollars per month… Litigation expenses from the ongoing lawsuits with Ed Chalpin over his original PPX contract were costing Jimi thousands as well.”
*It wasn’t Jeffery’s company at all (as detailed further up).
A February 1992 Rolling Stone feature gave examples of Jimi’s devouring of ressources.
Mitch: “When Jimi wanted money, he’d just phone up the office or the accountants and it was there for him.”.
Noel: “He didn’t bother about the bread. If he wanted a car, they’d give him a car and he was happy.”.
Jimi: “I don’t have no value on money at all. That’s my only fault. I just get things that I see and want and try to put into music.”
In a January 1969 interview for Melody Maker Jimi said “I could buy myself a house in Beverly Hills and retire, but I just want to go on communicating.” The clueless conspiracy theorists and the whining “Jimi was ripped off” crowd would probably have preferred that Jimi had retired in Beverly Hills, such is their misunderstanding of the facts.
Noel in Rolling Stone magazine in 1969: “I could never understand why he[Jimi] worried so much, I mean, we were earning a fortune on the road. On three occasions we earned over $100,000 for a single performance. In the last twelve months I don’t think we ever copped less than $25,000 for a night’s work.”
In a BBC interview, Chas talked of Jimi’s crazy spending sprees once all the money started rolling in big-time. In one weekend in mid to late 1968, “…he bought 17 television sets…8 stereo sets, he sent his road manager Gerry Stickells to New York to bring his car from New York to Los Angeles. He only had it LA for an hour when he wrapped it up [crashed it]…walked straight away into a shop and bought a new one, which he wrapped up the following day and bought yet another one…and he bought 9 guitars that weekend. I mean Jimi invented spending.” Just prior to that weekend, Jimi gave a girl $75 000 in an out-of-court settlement after having put her in hospital for stiches to her head (he’d hit her with a brick according (to Chas).
However, by 1969, Jimi began to have concerns about money matters, not necessarily about where the money was going but he was concerned that his taxes might not be paid (2). Because the office handled everything financial and due to Jeffery’s notorious opacity and diverting of funds, this contributed to his desire to find someone he could better trust, to keep things in order. He consulted his lawyer Henry Steingarten about how he could sever ties with Jeffery but Steingarten asked for proof and Jimi had none to offer, so nothing came of it.
When Jimi died, very little was found in his personal bank account simply because he hardly ever used it. He charged everything to the Are You Experience Ltd. office in New York, spending all the money he ever wanted.
Jimi’s lawyer warns Jimi about his lack of discipline about money matters
Understandably, Jimi’s mass spending sprees became unsustainable. In December 1969, Jimi’s personal lawyer (Henry W. Steingarten) warned him about his outrageous spending and lack of results/commitment to his recording and touring:
“The amount of money you are committing yourself to invest is very sizable, particularly if you have to pay taxes on it, and it is important for you to realize that you must continue to produce albums and to make personal appearances because it will be some time before the moneys advanced by Warner will be paid and you will resume receiving royalties.
If you do not take this commitment seriously, your entire career can be seriously hurt, if not destroyed. The answer lies entirely in your hands.
You must stop wasteful spending and sacrifice unnecessary things for the long-term benefit which the studio represents.”
The colossal debts pile up
It’s quite ironic that Jimi is said to have begun to wonder where the money was going, while running up bills for hundreds of thousands of dollars, jamming away at The Record Plant for months on end with no album to show for it. Eddie Kramer told how in 1969, Jeffrey sent a bill to Warner Brothers for $36,000 dollars of studio time. The Warner executive asked if it was for the album and they replied that it was for just one song – and it wasn’t even finished! Harry Shapiro in Electric Gypsy: “Mike Jeffery’s business manager Jim Marron commissioned an audit into Jimi’s studio costs at the Record Plant. The results confirmed what Mike had felt; because of Jimi’s habit of block-booking the studio for lengthy jam sessions at peak rates, expenditure was enormous, amounting to $300 000.” – That is equivalent to more than a staggering $2,400,000 in todays money! With no progress on making an album in sight. And then the idiots queue up to say that Jimi never saw the money.
So it comes as no surprise that Jimi’s working methods were out of control. The only thing to do was build a studio for Jimi (and other artists) to use. As said above Jeffrey and Hendrix had to put up hundreds of thousands of dollars, plus a huge loan from Warner Bros. in order to convert The Generation Club into Electric Lady Studios [millions of dollars in today’s money] and o make things worse, Jimi had that creative block and didn’t have a touring band to bring in revenue for over 10 months! No wonder Jeffrey, the record companies, everyone, was pulling their hair out. Gerry Stickells: “It wasn’t as if you planned to tour in support of your album. You just strung dates to maintain cash flow… Remember, record deals weren’t what they are today. Percentages were very small.” (7).
Due to the financial weight of the completion of Electric Lady Studios, Jimi began to get cold feet and wanted out. The problem was that with all his other mounting debts and mass-spending he couldn’t pay back his part of the joint loan with Jeffery, who had also be putting in more and more of his own money into the project. Also, a percentage of Jimi’s record royalties had to be paid to Ed Chalpin and the next Experience studio album was due to be entirely handed over to him! Furthermore, all European royalties had been frozen by the judges because of the Chalpin/PPX case.
Jimi also owed thousands of dollars to the lawyers who had defended him in the Toronto bust case. To make matters worse, hundreds of thousands were owed to the taxman! He’d already had to pay $10,000 bail in order to continue touring after the drug bust.
In the summer of 1969, Jeffery rented a house in New York state (know as the Shokan house) which cost the office $3000 a month ($24,000 a month in today’s money). He also hired cook and housekeeper, to make things a comfortable as possible for Jimi, so that he could concentrate on creating new music.
Jimi was supposed to go on tour in the fall of 1969 but didn’t feel up to it, so he told Jeffery to cancel it. So…thousands of dollars had to be paid to the tout promoters as compensation!
That’s where all the money went!
Jeffery’s immediate future
By 1970, Jeffrey was no longer the straight looking record business executive in a suit and now grew his hair long, smoked dope and took L.S.D. Bob Levine recounted (2) that Jeffrey was bothered about getting old wanted to get hip with the New-Age crowd. He fell in love with Hawaii when the Experience had played there in the previous years and decided to set up a musician’s retreat on the island of Maui. He spent large sums of money on an American architect, drawing up plans for the building. He would soon again borrow hundreds of thousands off Warner for the Wave/Rainbow Bridge movie project. Money that would have to be made and repaid. Jimi had many things to deliver in the early 70s: his fourth studio album, a soundtrack album for Jeffrey’s Rainbow Bridge movie and it seems a further studio album to settle the Ed Chalpin/PPX lawsuit. There were also the huge debts concerning the new recording studio. With so much to deliver, the last thing that Jeffrey would have wanted was to lose his star artist (with whom he possessed management rights until 1972).
When Jimi died, Jeffery lost his equal partner in Electric Lady Studios and ended up having to settle with Al Hendrix, which involved giving him $250,000 to buy out Jimi’s share in the studio. To make things worse for him, he then had to take on the $300,000 loan from Warner Brothers alone, with no touring revenue finance that anymore. Despite the rumours, Jeffery didn’t have an insurance policy on Jimi (Warner Bros. did) so obviously, Jimi’s death was a huge blow to him.
So in mid-1970, owned half the shares in the studio and royalties from the future albums and movies (the Albert Hall, Berkeley and Maui movies were in the planning stage), so he would have continued to be a very rich man whether he was still Jimi’s manager or not. Jeffery had no grounds whatsoever to kill Hendrix (and no insurance policy). The management contract of 1966 had been modified but was valid until 1972. Even if Jimi had shifted to somebody else to manage him (which he couldn’t, without lengthy court proceeding – costing thousands more – to invalidate that contract), the two were inextricably tied together through the new studio and their contracts with Warner Brothers which had been set up to continue well into the 70s. The Hendrix organisation stood to get handsome advances on future recordings and releases and hefty percentages of revenue from album and film sales. The last thing Jeffery would’ve wanted was to see Jimi get killed and put a stop to all that huge revenue! Also, legally, if Jimi died, all rights to his recordings would go to his father!
Outside of the Hendrix activities, Jeffery was being sued over money due to The Animals.
So up in flames goes the theory that Jeffrey was secretly using rock band revenues (Animals, Hendrix and others) to surreptitiously feed cash to COINTELPRO organisations in the U.S.A. through Yameta’s bank in the Bahamas! Hilarious nonsense put about by the ill-informed.
The Jeffery-Hendrix relationship
Mike Goldstein had been hired by Jeffrey from 1967 to act as the public relations man for all things Hendrix. Goldstein had this to say about Jimi’s relationship with Mike Jeffrey:
“Michael liked to think of himself as a vilain but he was too kind to ever be a villain – that was only an image. Jimi’s disenchantment with Jeffrey, if there was any, and I don’t believe there was, was his disenchantment with himself. Jeffrey’s only problem with Jimi was his inability to tell him what to do next.” – “Jeffery did what Hendrix told him to do. The Key factor that Jimi didn’t understand is what Sly understood – you do the hits in public. Jeffrey tried to tell him not to do the new stuff in public but Jimi insisted on playing what he wanted to.”
Kathy Eberth, who worked in the Hendrix office: “By this time [Mid-1969], if Jeffery wanted something from Hendrix, he would come to me and say ‘See if he will do this,…’ Jimi and I used to laugh about it.” (7)
“Hendrix would call Mo Ostin (Warner Brothers president) and say ‘I need 10 G’s’ and Mo would say ‘How do you want it, in tens, twenties or fifties?’…Mike got a percentage, took his percentage and didn’t handle the accounting.”
Talking about the money swilling around in Yameta, Goldstein said “When the money disappeared, Mike Jeffrey got blamed but he got swindled too. It was just a typical rock and roll business schmuck deal. The greed was everybody’s, including Hendrix’s.” (3)
Steve Weiss was the attorney for both Hendrix and Jeffrey, so he too knew exactly what was going on in the hive and he insisted that there was no animosity between the two:
“Jimi never seriously considered anyone else managing him. I have no first hand knowledge of any dissatisfaction whatsoever…I don’t know of any great unhappiness between Jimi and Jeffrey since they’d gone in as partners in the studio [Electric Lady Studios]. As in marriage, there were ups and downs, but overall, the relationship was a good one.” (3)
In 1969, Jimi had had momentary doubts about his partnership with Jeffery in the construction of Electric Lady Studios but on December 30, 1969 he told his lawyer Henry W. Steingarten to do whatever was necessary to secure his one-half ownership of the studio.
Other people who were close to Jimi, have said that he was unhappy with Jeffrey and wanted to get away from him. However Goldstein and Weiss, who worked very closely with Jimi and Jeffrey saw nothing more than normal disagreements. Could it be that Jimi was a bit of a drama queen in private? Noel Redding once told an interviewer “I think he suffers from a split personality…He gets everybody around him very uptight because he worries about everything.” (Circus magazine, Feb. 1970).
Gerry Stickells had this to say about Jimi’s feelings in relation of Mike: “He was always thinking of changing management but I find that to be a generally true thing about artists. In reflection, his actions were pretty typical, whereby creatively he had run out of steam. At that point, you blame everything and everyone – except yourself – for that loss of creativity.” (2)
However friends have said that Jimi was gradually becoming displeased with Mike’s possessiveness and in late 1969, he was aware that Jeffrey was uncomfortable with the Band Of Gypsys and simply with Billy Cox being involved. The Jimi Hendrix Experience had been one of the highest earning rock act of the late 60s and Electric Lady Studios was being built on the basis of that steady flow of cash. When the band split up in June ’69, that cash-flow stopped. To make matters worse, Jimi told Concerts East & West that he didn’t feel up to doing the fall tour of the U.S.A. that they had planned. Jeffrey saw that everything was in the red and Jimi still hadn’t come up with a new album either for Warner/Track or more importantly Capitol Records, to solve the PPX/Ed Chalpin legal case. Jeffrey was Jimi’s partner in Electric Lady Studios so one can understand his fears.
In Jimi’s last months, he did consult friends and advisers with a view to distancing himself from Jeffrey but Bob Levine said “Hendrix felt a certain thing for Jeffrey. He couldn’t bring himself to step on him. He didn’t feel he was right for his growth musically, but he did have mixed emotions. It had gotten to the point where Hendrix wanted change, but his options were limited.”(2)
Arthur Allen (Ghetto Fighters) said about the Hendrix/Jeffery relationship deterioration: “Jimi had always argued with Jeffery but he was very much aware of his ability as a manager. Jeffery did not like the idea of the Band Of Gypsys coming together and he expressed that. Jimi was deeply offended that Jeffery would interfere with a creative decision. That’s when he first expressed a serious desire to break away from him.”
Bob Levine is also quoted as saying:
“Jimi told me he would never leave Michael… He knew Michael was a heavy, and it was popular to make him a villain, but Jimi knew Michael would make him the most money.”(5)
However a final clue about Jimi’s state of mind comes from Charles R. Cross’s book, where it says that Jimi had shown interest in hiring lawyer Ken Hargood to help him with his business affairs. Hagwood said that Jimi told that his intention was to either fire Jeffrey or re-negotiate his contract. (5)
The “Jeffery told Jimi what to play” nonsense
This is another false story that is bandied around on the internet. There is no evidence whatsoever to back this up. Mitch, Noel, Chas, Billy, Buddy, Eddie,… no mention at all that Mike had any say in what Jimi played or who he played with. Jeffrey’s assistant Trixie Sullivan is even on film (“The Uncut Story” I think – to be confirmed) stating that Mike had no say at all regarding Jimi’s music).
In a March 1969 (during an interview for the International Times with Jane de Mendelssohn asked Jimi if he felt liberated. Jimi replied “You mean free?…In music we get to do anything we want to do.”
Let’s wind back to what Jerry Goldstein said: “Jeffrey’s only problem with Jimi was his inability to tell him what to do next….”Jeffrey did what Hendrix told him to do. The Key factor that Jimi didn’t understand is what Sly understood – you do the hits in public. Jeffrey tried to tell him not to do the new stuff in public but Jimi insisted on playing whet he wanted to.”
The Band Of Gypsys had been totally of Jimi’s making and Jeffrey didn’t like the idea. When Miles was sacked (Jimi’s decision) Mike was delighted and he organised a Rolling Stone interview in New York with Jimi, Mitch and Noel, to announce that the good ol’ Experience was back. Jimi of course dropped Noel and carried on regardless with Billy Cox.
In the October 29, 1970 issue of Rolling Stone magazine (dedicated to Jimi’s funeral), Mike Jeffery is quoted saying:
“Last week I was looking at a film script Jimi was working on, and in the margin he had written ‘Don’t raise me up; I am but a messenger.’ That’s definitely the direction he was going in…He realized the power of soul, as one of his own songs said. He was an up (sic) , one of the highest people I’ve ever known, and he was getting more and more spiritual. To my mind, his music was the music of the new religion. His stage image halted him, though, and that was frustrating for him. That old ghost from the past – the humping the guitar, the ‘Foxy Lady’ stuff. Because that wasn’t the true Jimi Hendrix, that ballsy, raunchy image. And as he was becoming more and more spiritual, he wanted more to fling that image off, and just play his music.”
“Jeffery’s touring slave” nonsense
A lot has been made over the years about Jimi being Jeffrey’s touring slave, pushed so hard that it killed him. All total nonsense as it turns out.
In the early London/Europe years, like any band, The Jimi Hendrix Experience built their reputation playing as many gigs as they could to get exposure. They also joined other acts (Walker Brothers, Pink Floyd, Amen Corner, The Move,…) on “package tours”, which were commonplace in the 1960s and not any sort of manipulative exploitation by Jeffrey or anyone else. In 1968, the same tactic was implemented for the conquering of the USA/Canada, however errors were made in some touring itineraries, seeing the band unnecessarily criss-crossing the continent in short spaces of time (which became exhausting for all concerned). This messy tour is in fact the origin of the “touring slave” thing.
Heavy touring wasn’t anything unique to the Experience and many top bands of the day went through such ordeals. However, Jimi took it all in his stride. Chas Chandler said in a filmed interview that with all the touring and recording, Jimi was doing what he loved and was having a ball. Also, when Jimi was in town, he’d be playing after-shows in small clubs or jamming with friends and acquaintances in the nearest recording studio, and this was happening all through the 1968 and 1969 tours. As Charles R. Cross points out in his book about Jimi playing Madison Square Gardens in 1969: “…you could catch Jimi in a New York club almost every night for free”.
From the book Electric Gypsy on the band’s intense touring of the U.S.A.: “On this at least, Jimi and Mike agreed. America was where the money was and, despite his love of London, Jimi never seemed that bothered about touring the rest of the country.”
After the very short but dense January 1969 European tour, the pressured, block-booked touring was over, yet Mitch said of that series of following U.S.A. concerts “On the whole, we enjoyed that tour.”(8) A few days later Jimi told Melody Maker “I always enjoy playing for people, whether it’s for 10 people or 10,000” (8) (even after all the giant U.S. tours of 1968).
Again from that January ’69 interview by Jane de Mendelssohn, Jimi said about touring allowing him to “…concentrate on the music I play, which calls for travelling all over the place in my own way. I travel most places without any money actually, and so when the money comes along, well, it’s just another part of living really. I don’t dig the way the world’s going these days but it’s nice to get experience out of it, that’s the money, that’s what I consider riches.”
After the badly planned U.S. tours of 1968, Hendrix instructed Jeffrey to keep gigs grouped around weekends, to leave him time free for recording, relaxing, living. In interviews he mentioned his plan to take a year off and he we went right ahead and did as far as touring was concerned. After the Experience’s last gig in June ’69 (Denver), Jimi took 9-10 months off from touring! In June ’69 he told Sharon Lawrence “All of my childhood dreams are coming true!”, which certainly doesn’t sound like the over-toured victim of brutal management.
As soon as that last Experience tour was over Jeffery “scheduled a long midsummer vacation for Jimi – he had the next six weeks off.” (9)
On September 15th 1969, Jimi was said to have collapsed from exhaustion. This obviously wasn’t a result of intensive touring because since early June he had only played three festival gigs, the Harlem benefit and a club gig. 5 appearances over a 3 to 4 month period. It was obviously his unhealthy lifestyle that was to blame.
A fall tour had been organised but Jimi took the decision not to commit to it. Evidently, Jimi was in charge, not Jeffrey. Jimi’s attorney Henry Steingarten urged him to do the tour but Jimi maintained that he didn’t feel up to it, so he instructed Steingarten to engage the legal proceedings to cancel the tour. So from June 1969 to April 1970, Jimi played only 10 gigs! In the last 12 months of his life, he only played 38 gigs. Hardly the pressured, over-worked rock star.
The problem with this low working rate was that the debts (for studio time and the construction of Electric Lady Studios, backing musicians/roadies pay, living expenses, guitars, cars,…) were piling up dramatically. Jimi worked at his own very slow pace. This was obviously a source of great frustration for Mike Jeffrey, Track and Warner Brothers (the latter had lent Jimi and Mike half a million dollars for the completion of the studios).
When touring finally resumed in April 1970, again, it was on Jimi’s own terms (around weekends). The US tour went like this:
2 gigs in April
8 gigs in May
10 gigs in June
6 gigs in July
3 gigs in August (Honolulu Aug 1st + IOW/Stocholm Aug 31st)
(certainly not a heavy touring schedule like in 67/68.)
For those weekend concerts, the band would simply fly out to them from New York. This was no “grueling tour” at all.
Jimi’s touring schedules were nothing exception for artists of the day (or even today). Julie Driscoll said of the whirlwind era of the late 60s with Brian Auger & Trinity: “In the four years together, we had worked constanly with only one week off”. By comparison to that, Jimi’s four years from 1967 to 1970 were a walk in the park!
Intense tour schedules have always been nothing exceptional. Check out the late 60s to early1970 tours by these other top acts of the day for example:
The Rolling Stones
Grand Funk Railroad and other acts
Pick any major or minor artist’s tour from the last 50 years and you’ll see the same thing. Hell, look at Iggy Pop’s 2022 spring/simmer European tour (and he’s 76 years old). Are you going to cry “Poor Iggy! So overworked”?
After two Hawaii gigs, Jimi took had a month off touring which included a two-week holiday on Maui! In this interview, Billy Cox says “We were supposed to be there 30 days – R&R – to get ready for the European tour after that.” So there we have Jeffery (nurturing his idea of an artist’s retreat on the island) putting a month off for Jimi into the scheduling! The whole notion of Jimi the touring slave for his uncaring manager is obviously utter nonsense.
In September, Jimi had even requested that tours be organised in Czechoslovakia, Mexico and Japan! He also wanted to play at Stonehenge in Britain. Sadly, those dates didn’t happen. He did play in Britain at the Isle Of Wight festival (a turgid performance) before embarking on a short tour of Europe where excessive drinking and drug-taking hampered his every move (see further down).
Gerry Stickells said that even during the last days, Jimi had discussed new tour dates with him and he was up for it. Just before the Isle Of Wight concert, he old Norman Joplin of Music Now magazine: “I’d like to get an English tour going soon..do about 8 cities or so.” Evidently at that stage, where he was just about to embark on a brief but dense European tour Jimi was showing no reluctance to getting out on the road. From Jerry Hopkins’ book about Jimi’s mood on the 17th of September, just after having seen Alan Douglas off at Heathrow Airport: “At 11 a.m., soon after Alan’s plane took off, Gerry Stickells called Jimi’s British agent, Dick Katz, saying Jimi wanted to do another tour of Britain and the Continent. Dick got on the phone and in a matter of hours booked several dates in England and Germany.”
Even when the short 1970 European tour ground to a halt because of Billy Cox’s problems, Jeffery made plans to help the band recuperate. Trixie Sullivan (Mike Jeffery’s assistant) was in Majorca with Mike managing his nightclub (Sgt. Pepper’s) and she says in Tony Brown’s “The Last Days” – “Mike had arranged that everyone would go over for a short break, so they could discuss picking a new bass player for Jimi and continuing with the tour schedule.” (hardly the behaviour of someone planning to kill Jimi as the conspiracy theorist likes to imagine).
So the entire notion of Jimi’s death being caused by Mike Jeffery’s demands is well and truly proven to be utter nonsense.
The Samarkand photos – “Jimi looked so tired”. Here’s why:
Jimi’s behaviour was becoming erratic and unstable. At the 1970 New York Pop Festival he abused the crowd. When he played in his home town of Seattle he hit the stage drunk and abused the audience again. After the gig, family friends noticed that he was exhausted but he didn’t even go to bed to get some sleep for two nights running. They also noticed that he was taking LSD. Around this time, others have confirmed that he was drinking heavily, smoking a lot of pot and sniffing cocaine and worse, heroin. He was obviously burning the candle at both ends and here we have an indication of what really killed Jimi Hendrix – his chosen lifestyle.
One often reads the comment that “Jimi looks so tired” on the internet in relation to Monika’s photos of Jimi in the garden behind The Samarkand Hotel (and just about any photo now). It’s seen as a evidence that Jimi was over-worked but as shown, Jimi had been doing far less touring in 1969/70 than in the previous two years. If Jimi looked tied and drawn, it was simply because he had been on a binge of drugs, alcohol and sex, ever since he arrived in Europe in late August.
Looking at the various accounts of his behaviour in those last weeks, it becomes evident that Jimi had a real drug problem:
– Brian Auger met Jimi at Electric Lady Studios where Jimi offered him some heroin to snort. Brian declined.
– The same thing happened to Noel, who said that he was given some brown substance by Jimi and it made him “violently ill”.
– In his book, The Doors guitarist Robby Kreiger says that on the flight to London (for the Isle Of Wight festival), Jimi kept asking him if he knew where to score drugs in the capitol (and he wasn’t talking about weed/cannabis).
– A day later, we have the incident at The Londonderry Hotel where Kathy discovered an ill and feverish Jimi who had wrecked his suite and thrown two naked girls out of his room, an empty bottle of whiskey at his bedside.
– A couple of days later, Jimi was seen to down a bottle of whiskey in one go, backstage in Stockholm. The concert manager Ove Hahn said that at one point Jimi went for a walk to score drugs and that “By 8 o’clock he was completely stoned”. Journalist Klaus Burling said that it was hard to interview Jimi because he was so “spaced out”.
– Two days later there was the infamous and catastrophic Aarhus gig, where Jimi was so out of it that he abandoned the gig after two songs. Backstage, he was asking for cocaine.
– A few days later, Roger Daltrey’s partner Heather welcomed Jimi and Devon to their home one afternoon (13th or 14th) and she told of how Jimi took LSD and asked for Mandrax of Valium! He passed out and had to be carried up to bed. Heather said “We’d seen Jimi pretty high in the past but never like this.”
– On the 14th Jimi and his girlfriends went to a party at the flat of David Secunda who said that during the meal “Jimi and the girls were so smacked out, they barely ate any anything or even said a word.”
– On the 15th, with his next bed partner Monika (after the two girls at the hotel, after Kirsten, after Devon and Colette,…) Jimi turned up at Ronnie Scott’s club and asked if he could jam with Eric Burdon & War (who had a short residency at the venue). The band had to turn him down because he was so out of it. Eric Burdon recounted that Jimi’s road manager Eric Barrett asked him “What can we do about Jimi? He’s in real bad shape.”
– Jimi’s good friend and confident Sharon Lawrence was at Ronnie Scott’s that evening and she said in her book that Jimi looked terrible didn’t seem to recognise her.
– In the night of the 17th/18, Jimi met Devon at Pete Kameron’s flat where she gave him the black bomber amphetamine that didn’t mix well with the sleeping tablets which he would later take at Monika’s flat.
So all this explains why Jimi looked tired in some photos from those last week and it had nothing to do with excessive touring, which he wasn’t doing as I have detailed above.
A lot of things were of course on his mind. He had to deliver TWO new albums (a 4th studio album and the Rainbow Bridge soundtrack), Electric Lady Studios was massively in debt, he still had the Ed Chalpin fiasco to settle (with a further studio album to deliver), he faced a paternity suit from Diane Carpenter (over their daughter Tamika) and another brewing from Eva Sundquist ‘over their son James), Billy Cox was ill,… behind the mask for the journalists, he was at the end of his tether, reckless and seemingly out of control.
“Jeffery spiked Jimi with LSD at Madison Square Gardens” nonsense
Another myth, that was even put around by Buddy Miles, was that Jeffery had deliberately spiked Jimi with bad L.S.D. at the January 28, 1970 Madison Square Gardens benefit concert, in order to sabotage The Band Of Gypsys. Miles even claimed that he saw Jeffery do it backstage at the venue. This is ludicrous because Jeffery had hired a film and sound crew to record Jimi’s performance, so he would hardly sabotage such a potentially money-making opportunity at such a high-profile event. Bob Levine: “To create a [TV] program of the concert, Jeffery put up $6,000 of his own money to have the Moratorium show filmed.” (6)
Despite Miles’ insistance that Jeffery sabotaged the gig, John McDermott said: “No other member of Hendrix’s management team present at the concert accepts the sabotage story.” (2)
Kathy Eberth (who worked in the New York Hendrix office): “Acid wasn’t all Hendrix had ingested.”(2)
Jimi told friends that it was Devon Wilson that had slipped acid in his drink of Coke (probably with the intention of getting him high, rather than sabotaging the gig – but you never know with the manipulative Devon).(1) Also, Painter Mati Klarwein: “We all got very stoned with Jimi in the dressing room before he went on”.(6) Strangely, Alan Douglas said that Jimi was on top form after coming off stage! (6)
Johnny Winter was there that evening and he said that he saw Jimi arrive at the hall, already in a very sorry state: “It was the most horrible thing I’d ever seen. He came in with his entourage of people and it was like he was already dead…. he came in with his head down, sat on a couch alone and put his head in his hands. He didn’t say a word to anyone and nobody spoke to him. He didn’t move until it was time for the show” (source: Electric Gypsy). However, photos of Jimi backstage before the gig show Jimi looking quite perky and even talking to an interviewer. Winter must have seen Jimi sitting down just before he took the stage and not on arrival at the venue.
Noel Redding was there and like Miles, he claims that he saw Jeffery give Jim a tab of acid before he went on! (6) So if this was the case, Jimi’s “acid buddy” – according to Chas Chandler) must have thought that Jimi needed pepping up for the show, rather than an attempt to sabotage the concert, in which he had invested thousands for future exploitation. Mystery solved.
Mike Jeffery: “Musically it wasn’t going down well between Jimi and Buddy. Jimi was able to instill in his music all the four elements – water, air, fire, earth. When he played earth, Buddy was the best drummer in the world for him. But Jimi was getting less earthy, and when he got out there into air, Buddy just didn’t make it. There were those large gaps that had to be filled by somebody with a different drumming technique than Buddy’s. This is what I think, this is what I expressed to Jimi, and this is what he agreed with. “So I had the difficult position of getting rid of, removing Buddy from Jimi. Jimi felt it, but Jimi could never say no. Buddy was a friend of his in a nonmusical sense. I told Buddy the trip was over. I did get the feeling that he took it very personally to me. We argued a bit and we shouted a bit. I think at that time he felt he wasn’t getting his share from the group. He felt that he was a star too, and I regarded him as essentially a supporting man for Jimi.” (12)
Gerry Stickells: “Jeffery never considered Buddy Miles in the same league as Hendrix; for that matter, neither did Jimi.” (2) This was confirmed by Mitch Mitchell in his autobiography where he says that Jimi phoned him after the Madison Square Gardens gig, saying that he wasn’t happy with the Band Of Gypsys, nor the direction they were taking. Mitch was immediately called back to the drum seat. Mitch in his book: “I know that Jimi loved Buddy’s drumming and singing, until he started working with him – certainly in terms of a performing band.'”
Nicholas Schou says in his book “Orange Sunshine” that Jimi was also annoyed by the fact that Buddy used up $50 000 of the Hendrix office money for limo fees. It is also said that Buddy charged his and his family’s dental fees to the office as well! Goodbye Buddy.
> To read more about all sides of this MSG story, there’s a multitude of accounts and hypotheses in the highly recommended Valkhoff/Garuti book “Hendrix 1970: Day By Day”.
The Jeffery “Two million pound insurance policy” nonsense
In the 2011 Music Radar interview with Bob Levine, he not only ruled out the murder theory, he also let the truth be known about the supposed million dollar insurance policy that Mike Jeffery was supposed to have taken out, in case anything happened to Jimi. This is usually touted as being the motive for Jeffery having Jimi murdered. As Levine points out in the interview, the insurance policy was taken out by Warner Brothers (who owned the subsidiary label Reprise Records) and not by Jeffery at all!
Jeffery, as manager, was obliged to sign the insurance policy, to validate it. This type of policy was very commonplace at the time, as Levine explains:
“Michael signed an insurance policy on Jimi that the record company took out, and Jimi was aware of this. But that’s standard. Frank Sinatra was insured by Reprise for millions of dollars. That’s how business is done. Record companies take out insurance policies on major artists all the time. But it was nothing ruthless or dastardly on Michael Jeffery’s part. This is Tappy rewriting history.”
Also, in order to set up Electric Lady Studios, Reprise had lent money to Hendrix and Jeffery and this loan was covered by an insurance policy. Reprise would be the beneficiaries of this loan and not Mike Jeffery:
Joe Smith (Vice President of Reprise Records): “We had a big insurance policy on Hendrix that covered the money we lent him for the [Electric Lady] studio.”
Bob Levine also recounted that at Maui, Jeffery had tried to get Jimi to sign another million dollar insurance policy. Levine, knowing what a shrewd businessman Jeffery was, warned Jimi not to sign it (probably in case he overlooked something in the fine print). To Levine’s relief, Jimi told him that he didn’t sign the policy. John McDermott: “Whereas Warner Brothers had succeeded in garnering Hendrix’s signature on a multi-million dollar insurance policy, Jeffery had had no such luck.” (source: Setting The Record Straight by McDermott/Kramer).
Also, when the money rolled in from the 1970 European tour, Jeffery channeled it straight into Electric Lady Studios and not into his own pocket.
So both insurance policies had the record company as beneficiary. Jeffery and in all probability all those on the payroll would get a compensatory fee but this would be a feeble amount compared to the cash that Jimi was generating as a performing recording artist. As Levine says:
“… Michael Jeffery didn’t have it out for Jimi in any way. I talked to him the day before Jimi died. He had major plans for Jimi. The future was very bright at the time.
The whole thing about Michael taking out a life insurance policy and wanting to collect? That’s in Tappy’s* imagination, too.”
* Tappy Wright who also wrote the fantasy about Jimi being murdered by Jeffery.”
Also, after Jimi’s death, Jeffery didn’t benefit from any insurance policy in relation to his joint acquisition of Electric Lady Studios with Jimi. Al Hendrix wasn’t interested in the studio, even though Jimi had personally invested half a million dollars into it (that’s where all the money went folks!) and he accepted $240,000 for Jimi’s share from Jeffery who continued to reimburse Warner Brother for the construction loan.
The bitter Noel Redding followed the financial goings on for decades and said in his book that Jeffery’s parents didn’t inherit anything from the million dollar insurance policy either.
The fact is that Mike Jeffery needed Jimi alive and kicking to deliver the goods. Warner and Track/Polydor were screaming for the 4th studio album, there was also the score of the Rainbow Bridge movie that Jimi had signed up to compose. Even if Jimi delivered, a large chunk of the profits were still owed to Ed Chalpin (who also wasn’t satisfied with the Band Of Gypsys album as payment) AND there were the colossal loans to settle for the construction of Electric Lady Studios. Jeffery knew that Jimi had to deliver on all of this with new songs and further touring which, as I’ve shown, Jimi was willing to do.
When Jimi died, he didn’t even have an insurance policy in regard to the fact that his business partner (Hendrix) had passed away. He ended up having to purchase Jimi’s half-share in he enterprise for $240,000 and had to face the colossal loans the the banks and Warner Brothers.
Why discuss this anyway? We have the proof that Jimi wasn’t murdered.
If you want to learn more about the legal cases, I wish you luck trying to digest it in Noel’s very sad book (written by his wife Carol Appleby who tragically died in a car accident with Noel, the same week as the publication).
The “Jeffery was MI5/MI6” nonsense
> All about Mike Jeffery at Roger Smith’s superb website Ready, Steady, Gone
“Ready, Steady, Gone” is a very interesting research site which lifts the veil off Michael Jeffery. Working with a fellow researcher, Roger Smith gathered a wealth of information about Jeffery and applied for access to the Ministry Of Defense documents relating to Jeffery’s military service. They found no proof whatsoever that he was in MI5, MI6, Spectre, Hydra or whatever. The book Setting The Record Straight incorrectly had him down as a Captain but in fact, when in the army, he had temporary duties as “acting Corporal” and “acting Sergent” but in fact never rose above the rank of Private! Hilarious! Even Jimi had a higher rank during his military service, as Private First Class!
So much for Jeffery being a high-ranking MI5-MI6 operative. Jeffery was simply in the Royal Army Education Corps which was part of the Intelligence Corps and members of that division often assisted MI6 in low key tasks such as searching for spies and liaising with the Italian Intelligence Service but there is no trace in the records of Jeffery being in MI6. The conspiracy loons will say that his activities were secret and covered up of course.
The research also reveals that he was forever a “spiv” in the army, making lots of money by re-selling newspapers to soldiers. He used that money to start a club in Newcastle, starting with a little jazz-themed coffee house and moving onto a more prestigious Club A’Gogo. He sometimes got into trouble with the law about gambling on the premises. The details paint a clear picture of the man and show that he was just an ambitious entrepreneur with a taste for sports cars and certainly not an MI6/CIA operative using the “music business” as a cover to make and divert cash for illicit international operations, as the wacky conspiracy theorists like to dream. Little clubs in Newcastle were hardly ways of generating millions. Eventually he ended up managing Alan Price, The Animals and of course Jimi Hendrix – (in partnership with Chas Chandler).
Despite his light demeanor, Jeffery was a tough cookie and he was doing business in a very tough and sometimes nasty industry. In Setting The Record Straight it says that on an Animals tour of the U.S.A., Bob Levine and his assistant were refused payment for a performance at gunpoint by the promoters. Jeffery swore that this would never happen again and he made sure that nobody would mess with him in the future (rather like Peter Grant did later with Led Zeppelin). So Jeffery had minders, connections and all this gave him an air of a sort of gangster. This came in handy when he had to deal with the local “mafia”/hard cases when Electric Lady Studios was constructed on their turf.
All of this has no relevance whatsoever with Jimi’s death of course because we have the proof that he passed away in the ambulance – so there was no murder at all.
The Jeffery COINTELPRO/CIA nonsense
As well as the MI5/MI6 fantasy the conspiracy theorist bases the CIA connection to Jeffery on the fact that Yameta had a Bahaman bank account in the same bank as the CIA! All nonsense because, as detailed above, Jeffery hated the money being tied up in Yameta and did his best to draw it out to finance his own management and real estate projects (including Soft Machine, Eire Apparent, the Sgt. Pepper’s Club and The Generation Club/Electric Lady Studios).
Another interesting detail mentioned in the Shapiro/Glebbeek book “Electric Gypsy”: as Jeffery became more and more seduced by hippy culture and drugs in 1968, he and Jimi became, according to Chas, “acid buddies”. The two socialised more and more. The conspiracy theorist sees this merely as mind games and manipulation by Jeffery, which is of course possible and even probable. However, Jeffery befriended a veteran PR man and fervent communist called Jerry Morrison who had worked for 5 years in PR for the haitian right-wing dictator and staunch anti-communist François Duvalier a.k.a. Papa Doc. Morrison had fled Haiti but nurtured a plan to overthrow Papa Doc using mercenaries. Morrison got Jimi and Mike on board with this. So the two “acid buddies” Jimi and Mike planned to fund the mercenaries to help overthrow an anti-communist leader! This was one of the last straws for Chas who quit soon after discovering the plan (nothing came of the plan we presume). So if Jeffery was supposed to be funding the CIA and their COINTELPRO anti-communist activities, he would hardly have planned to participate in the overthrow of a staunch anti-communist neighbour to Cuba, who was in good favour with the U.S. government!
The “Jeffery had Hendrix kidnapped” nonsense
The story goes that Jimi had been hanging out with The Salvation Club’s Bobby Woods who was a cocaine dealer (Jimi was a customer) and therefore mixed with some dodgy New Yorkers including the local “mafioso”. Mike Jeffery’s assistant Trixie Sullivan said that the kidnapping was by a couple of young Italian “mafioso” types who thought they could muscle-in on the music business. The grabbed a drug-hungry Jimi when he was scouring the streets for “dope” and then phoned Jeffery, asking for his record contract.
Jim Marron (who worked for Jimi, running Electric Lady Studios) is quoted as saying: “It wasn’t a hostile kidnapping, it was a house arrest. Jimi was missing and we couldn’t find him.”
One account has Jimi being taken by thugs to a Manhattan apartment but Marron says that they had simply arrived at the Shokan House (where Jimi was chilling and rehearsing) with guns out, telling Jimi that he couldn’t leave but they let him carry on as usual. The “kidnappers” phoned the Hendrix offices and demanded his contract (which is a bizarre demand!) if not they’d kill him. Jeffery freaked out, not knowing what to do but luckily one of his staff, Jerry Morrison had “connections” who owed him a favour, so he stepped in and eventually tracked the gang and Jimi down.
According to Morrison, Jeffery was greatly upset, ready to offer whatever was necessary to ensure Jimi’s release – the contract, money, anything the gangsters wanted (9).
Jim Marron: “Jeffery was incensed that someone would actually steal his artist and question his power. It was a show of force against him. Though the entire affair was really about Bobby Woods and cocaine, Jeffery was determined to back them down rather than accept any of their terms.”. “A lot of Long Island stuff was very Mob-orientated. Mike was owed a favour [in fact Jerry Morrison was] who said ‘Okay, I’ll take care of it’. So this promoter [Morrison] sent another car with four or five armed guys up to Shokan. They walk in and say, look, you guys are out of here because so-and-so has sent us. Their boss was above the guy the kidnappers worked for, so they moved out”. “He [Jeffery] had developed his own connections and his were much more powerful than theirs. It cost Jeffery a favor…”.
Bob Levine: “I told Jeffery – to no avail – that he was risking a situation that could turn nasty or require retribution.”
Trixie Sullivan (Jeffery’s assistant): “They snatched Jimi and Mike had to meet a guy, someone who was very much into the mafia, and Mike was taken by guys with machine guns, and it was negotiated. I remember Mike telling me that there were men in trees with guns.” (5)
All of this has led some to incorrectly theorise that Jeffery had staged this house arrest and “rescue” in the hope of spooking Jimi and to convince him that he was an invaluable manager and protector. It didn’t work because apparently, Jimi was found at the Shokan house, very calm and amused by the whole silly episode. Marron: “He was kind of amused by it all.”. Levine: “Jeffery had backed them down, but Jimi saw right through that. Though Jeffery had flexed his muscles and proved his own power, he had no control over Hendrix.”
In his 1983 book “Hit & Run – The Jimi Hendrix Story”, Jerry Hopkins devoted a whole chapter to the kidnapping. He’d interviewed Jerry Morrison, who recounted that he’d orchestrated Jimi’s rescue, backed up by a couple of heavies he knew. Morrison claimed that he had contacted a big mafia boss who told him that he had heard about it and that it was merely a couple of “jitterbugs” (young mob wannabee louts), “morons”. The don gave Morrison the green light to go and get them and do what he wanted with them.
It’s said that Jimi was being held in an apartment in New York’s Little Italy area but Morrison discovered that the thugs had taken Jimi somewhere else. Supposedly acting on a hunch, acting on a hunch, Morrison for some reason thought that they were at the Shokan house. He said that with his heavies, he crept up to the house in the dark, gun in hand and found the two thugs in the kitchen (tied them up) and then found Jimi upstairs, perfectly happy, relaxing on his bed! He said he sent the young hoodlums back to New York, where they got a good kicking by the mafia.
Jerry Hopkins decided to verify Morrison’s story and contacted the police and the F.B.I. but they had no trace of the kidnapping (normal because the incident was never reported). However, a friend of his knew a high level police officer who had enough weight to contact the top mafia families in New York. They were shown Hopkins’ research and they said it was all nonsense and that Morrison had totally exaggerated his participation in Jimi’s liberation. All parties thought that the kidnapping had been a set up by Morrison himself. Hopkins concluded that Morrison had done this in order to work Jeffery into his confidence. However, the truth about what happened came out much later. Read on.
All the above has been known since he 80s/90s and in 2011 ex-drug trafficker, mafia family member and government informant by the name of John Parnell Roberts (born Jon Riccobono) published his autobiography ‘American Desperado’ in which he confirmed what had been written in the McDermott/Kramer book ‘Setting The Record Straight”. Back in the fall of 1969, he knew Jimi because of his connections with the drug scene that was around The Salvation Club (which Jimi frequented). As par of their protection racket, the mob had forcefully installed Riccobono as manager of the club. Because Electric Lady Studios was being built in the same area of mafia operations, the Hendrix office was unwittingly drawn into their web of influence and Jerry Morrison and Jeffery were the ones who had to deal with this. Jimi’s gig with Gypsy Sun & Rainbows at the Salvation was set up by Jeffery as a favour, in order to appease tensions. (2)
It was Roberts/Riccobono who was the mysterious “connection” that Morrison and Jeffery had in fact contacted in order to rescue Jimi from the young wannabes. An extract from the book can be read here.
So it’s evident that there was no Mike Jeffery organised kidnapping.
Jeffery’s reaction to Jimi’s death
When the European tour was aborted due to Billy Cox’s breakdown, Jeffery arranged for Jimi and the crew to meet with him in Majorca (where he was managing his nightclub Sgt. Pepper’s) for a break while they discussed what to do about replacing Billy and completing the tour. Hardly the behaviour of someone planning to kill Jimi!
Mike’s personal assistant Trixie Sullivan knew Jeffery very well. She has repeatedly stated that the murder theory is utter nonsense. She was working with Jeffery in Majorca when Jimi died. Trixie recounted that on the 17th of September, Jimi phoned the Majorca office asking for Mike but he was out, so he asked that Mike call him back. Mike called back in the evening but a violent storm hampered communications and he didn’t get through to London., “Mike was terribly upset at the thought of Jimi not being able to get through to him.”
Jim Marron (who managed the U.S. Hendrix offices affairs and Electric Lady Studios) said that after Jimi’s death, Jeffery told him of his intention to do his own investigation into the affair. He then flew from Spain to London to get some answers. Hardly the behaviour of a supposed murder mastermind. In London, Jeffery did his own investigation into what had happened to Jimi. His conclusion was that there had been no foul play.
John McDermott in Setting The Record Straight: “Gnawing at Jeffery was the notion that Hendrix’s death had resulted from a reckless overnight that could have been prevented”.
Jim Marron from the same book: “Jeffery found Jimi’s death hard to accept. As his personal manager, the image of his million dollar rock star drowning in his own vomit was ugly and hard to dismiss. Though he knew that Jimi had neither committed suicide nor been murdered, he never went public with his feelings because they would have hurt his record sales. Jeffery didn’t want to tell the truth – as ugly and simple as it was – because he was afraid that it would pop the bubble. He believed in mystique”.
There is some nonsense on the web with yet another obscure ex-roadie talking about Jeffery flying to Paris then travelling to London on September 17th, on a mission to murder Jimi. Crazy bonkers stuff because Jeffery had already been in London only a few days earlier. As said above, Trixie Sullivan and Jim Marron said that Mike was with them in Spain when Jimi died and he flew to London once he heard that Jimi had died, in order to carry out his own investigation. Of course the conspiracy loons will tell you that Sullivan and Marron (and Scotland Yard, the road crew and the hospital staff…) were all involved in a cover-up. It makes you wonder what they think is being covered up when we know for certain that Jimi was still alive on the way to the hospital.
The “Jeffery faked his own death” nonsense
Of course the conspiracy theorist likes to imagine that Jeffery faked his own death. He died in a freak aircraft collision near Nantes, France, three years after Jimi’s death. The French authorities requested that Jeffery’s body be identified, so Gerry Stickells flew to Nantes in order to do this. However, the body was so mangled that they told Gerry “You don’t want to see the photos.” All Gerry could do was confirm that the jewellery found on the body was Mike’s. The idiot conspiracy theorist likes to think that Jeffery somehow planted (or gave) his jewellery to someone else and organised the crashing of the plane in which 47 British citizens were killed! Seriously lunatic logic.
Hendrix, Jeffery, Track and Polydor had seen UK royalties frozen because of the Ed Chalpin legal case since 1968. Jimi died without seeing the case resolved (the Band Of Gypsys album hadn’t met the requirements that had been promised to Chalpin and Capitol Records). The case continued into the 70s and came to a head with the final hearing in March 1973. The case was looking good for the English side and Jeffery was on the verge of recuperating millions of pounds but he perished in the plane on the way to London… for that court hearing. So he would hardly have faked his own death and completely disappeared off the face of the Earth, if there was the possibility of being awarded such a colossal amount of money!
1. Electric Gypsy (Shapiro/Glebbeek, Mandarin 1994 edition)
2. Hendrix – Setting The Record Straight (McDermott/Kramer, Warner Books 1992)
3. Crawdaddy interview with John Swenson, 1975
4. The Final Days by Tony Brown (Rogan House (1997)
5. Room Full Of Mirrors by Charles R. Croww (2005)
6. Hendrix 1970: Day By Day by Ben Valkhoff and Luigi Garuti (2022)
7. The Ultimate Experience – Johnny Black (1999)
8. Hendrix 1969: Day By Day by Ben Valkhoff and Luigi Garuti (2021)
9. Hit & Run – The Jimi Hendrix Story by Jerry Hopkins (1983)
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