|(published in Uncle John’s “UNSTOPPABLE” Bathroom Reader)
Death, Drugs and Rock-n-roll
Hours before Jimi Hendrix died he was working on a song titled “The Story of Life.” The last lines were:
Jimi Hendrix died in the squalid flat of a German girlfriend in London September 18, 1970, after a long night of drinking and partying. After indulging in a smorgasbord of drugs and alcohol, he and the girlfriend returned to her apartment in the early hours of the morning where, according to the girlfriend, they both took some barbiturate pills to help them sleep.
A normal dose of the downers would have been just half a pill. The girlfriend claimed she took one pill; after Hendrix’s death an autopsy showed he had swallowed nine, 18 times more than recommended. The autopsy also revealed “massive” quantities of red wine not only in his stomach, but in his lungs. The quantity and combination likely would have proved fatal had he not first suffocated on the wine and his own vomit.
There is little mystery as to what killed Jimi Hendrix. But how did it happen? Was it suicide, an accident, or murder? Ever since Hendrix’s death there have been those who think there may have been more to it than just another rock star done in by his own wretched excess. Some things don’t quite add up.
MISTAKE OR FOUL PLAY?
But the quantity of wine found inside him, and around him on the bed where he was found, raises the intriguing question, did he drink that much or was it poured down him by someone? How did so much get into his lungs? Oddly, the autopsy showed a relatively low blood-alcohol level in his body, leading some to speculate that Hendrix drowned in the wine before much of it was absorbed into his body.
Who had reason to want Jimi Hendrix dead? It may be impossible to know now, more than 30 years after his death. But here are some possibilities.
The ambulance attendants tell a different story. The two men, according to an article in Guitar World by James Rotondi, arrived at the apartment to find it empty except for Hendrix lying in a mess on the bed, quite dead already. They say they went through the motions of trying to revive Hendrix because that was standard procedure. Then they wrapped up the body, carried it to the ambulance and drove to the hospital. Hendrix was pronounced dead on arrival. The autopsy cautiously concludes that the exact cause and time of death are unknown, but evidence points to a time of death possibly several hours before the ambulance arrived.
In his book The Covert War Against Rock,” author Alex Constantine says Hendrix’s FBI file, released in 1979 to a student newspaper in Santa Barbara, reveals that Hendrix was on a list of “subversives” to be placed in detainment camps in the event of national emergency. Hendrix was an icon of not only rock-n-roll rebellion, but the Black Power and anti-war movements of the 60s. Did the US intelligence agencies consider Hendrix not only subversive, but dangerous?
There are those who believe that Hendrix and other musicians, including Jim Morrison of The Doors, ex-Beatle John Lennon, and more recently rappers Tupac Shakur and The Notorious B.I.G.—all who died under suspicious circumstances—may have been killed by the government. It would be remarkably easy to make the murder of musicians who live life close to the edge anyway look like an accident, or to blame a killing on a “lone nut” or “gang violence.” Paranoid fantasy, or could there be some truth to these fears?
According to author Alex Constantine, Hendrix was muscled by the Mob after declining an invitation to play at the Salvation, a New York club controlled by the Gambino crime family. Hendrix had been a regular at the club, but after the proprietor was murdered following an attempt to break free of Mob control Hendrix evidently felt uncomfortable playing there. Shortly after, Constantine says, a stranger approached Hendrix on the street, and while chatting pulled out a .38 pistol and casually hit a target 25 feet away. Hendrix got the message and decided to play the club after all.
Another time Hendrix was kidnapped from the Salvation by some thugs claiming to be Mafia. They took him to a Manhattan apartment and told him to call his manager, Michael Jeffery, and relay a demand to transfer his contract to the Mafia—or else. Hendrix was rescued from the thugs by men sent by Jeffery, but Hendrix later told people he thought Jeffery arranged the whole thing. Hendrix may have had good reason not to trust his manager.
Hendrix became increasingly aware that Jeffery was cheating him, and just before his death made arrangements to cancel his contract with Jeffery. The manager understandably could have been upset at the prospect of losing his lucrative client, but why kill Hendrix? The answer could lie in the rumor that Jeffery had taken out a million-dollar life insurance policy on Hendrix. Additionally Jeffery could have made much more from the scores of Hendrix albums released after the musician’s death.
Whatever involvement the former intelligence agent may have had in Hendrix’s death was indirect; he was vacationing in Spain when Hendrix died. To some Jeffrey was further implicated when he himself died under unusual circumstances less than three years later, in a plane crash.
copyright©Jim McCluskey 2002-2012