Jimi Hendrix died in a London hotel on September 18, 1970, and the circumstances have remained a bit of a mystery ever since. Was there more to it than accidental suicide?
Before we get into Jimi, let’s answer this week’s riddle:
I am beat but never bruised. I have a key without a lock. I am heard but cannot hear. I am fast and slow, yet never move.
What am I?
Music!! Did you solve it? Hope so.
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Now back to Jimi…
The 27 Club -- Not one you want to join
On September 18, 1970, Jimi Hendrix was found dead - he’d asphyxiated on his own vomit after taking too many sleeping pills. He became a key member of the “27 Club” -- famous people who died at age 27.
Some of the other “club” members include: Brian Jones (Rolling Stones), Janis Joplin (solo artist), Kurt Cobain (Nirvana), and Amy Winehouse (solo artist).
Many of the 27 club member deaths were drug-related overdoses. And Hendrix is no different. It is likely this was accidental...according to the autopsy. But some believe there was foul play afoot.
So what happened the night before?
Wine and hashish and a final poem
Although the full details are a bit unclear (and often disputed), Hendrix spent his last 24 hours with his girlfriend, Monika Dannemann. After spending most of the early day running errands - a trip to the bank, clothes and antiques shopping, and buying writing paper - the couple made their way to a friend’s apartment that evening.
There, they smoked hashish. They drank some tea and wine. They hung out with a group of friends. At around 10:45 pm, Hendrix and Dannemann left to go back to her place.
At Dannemann’s, they shared a bottle of wine. Hendrix took a bath. Then he wrote a poem titled “The Story of Life.”
At around 1:45 am, Dannemann drove Hendrix to a party at business associate Pete Kameron’s house. According to those at the party, Hendrix spent the time there complaining about business problems and eating some food. Oh and he took an amphetamine tablet. (Gotta love the 70s, I guess).
Tuna sandwiches and an overdose
The couple left the party at around 3:00 am and went back to the apartment. According to Dannemann, she made some tuna sandwiches (pretty weak last meal...and I like tuna sandwiches).
After the late night snack, Dannemann said that Hendrix couldn’t sleep (turns out amphetamine doesn’t help insomnia!). He asked for some sleeping pills of hers, and Danneman claims she said no. Then she apparently took a pill herself and fell asleep.
At 10:00 am the next morning, she claims to have woken up with him in bed, sleeping normally. She left him sleeping and went out for some cigarettes. When she returned, she found him unresponsive.
She called an ambulance. Then, well, she disappeared.
Ambulance members found the flat empty except for Hendrix. He was covered in vomit. His airway “was completely blocked.” They ferried him to the hospital but it was already too late.
Hendrix was dead.
Accident? Suicide? Murder? We probably won’t ever know.
Well, other than the odd behavior of Dannemann (turns out disappearing when your boyfriend overdoses is suspicious, who knew?), there is one bombshell claim I’d like to get into...
A former roadie of Hendrix named James Wright wrote a book in 2009. In it, he claimed that Michael Jeffery, Hendrix’s manager, killed him.
In fact, he ssays that Jeffery admitted it! Here are the quotes from Wright’s book, quotes that he attributes to Michael Jefferey:
“I had to do it. You understand, don’t you? I had to do it. You know damn well what I’m talking about... I was in London the night of Jimi’s death and together with some old friends... we went round to Monika’s hotel room, got a handful of pills and stuffed them into his mouth... then poured a few bottles of red wine deep into his windpipe. I had to do it. Jimi was worth much more to me dead than alive. That son of a bitch was going to leave me. If I lost him, I’d lose everything.”
Michael Jeffery also took out a $2 million life insurance policy on the rockstar before he died. Perhaps most harrowing about this theory is that John Bannister, the surgeon who tended to Hendrix at the hospital, said he was convinced of the following:
The Jimi Hendrix death cause was drowning in red wine — despite there being extremely little alcohol in his blood.
A deeper dive on the murder claim
The Guardian did a nice write up on the death and the roadie’s claim of foul play. Check it out here if you want to get some more details.
So what do you think? Murdered? Accident? Let us know in the comments.
-Andy & Mark
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