Jimi Hendrix's Father Wins Back Rights To Son's Estate

The rights to Jimi Hendrix musical legacy will finally revert to his father,

Al Hendrix, a 76-year old former gardener, twenty-five years after the death

of his famous son. In the past twenty years, the elder Hendrix has been paid

less than $2 million dollars, from the sale of Hendrix albums, and

paraphernalia--a virtual cottage industry that generates over $3 million

dollars a year in worldwide record sales, and earns more than $ 1 million

dollars in clothes, posters, and paraphernalia bearing his name and likeness.

On April 19, 1993, Hendrix filed a suit when he found out that MCA Music

Entertainment was planning to purchase his son's recording and publishing

copyrights from two international companies that had held them these past two

decades. This deal was estimated to be worth in the neighborhood of $40

million -none of which would have gone to the Hendrix family. The deal was

suspended when Al Hendrix wrote a letter to MCA protesting the purchase.

Those named in the suit were Leo Branton, Jr. a civil rights lawyer, whom

Hendrix had accused of selling the rights to his late son's catalog without

his consent. He had hired Branton in 1971, a year after Jimi Hendrix died of

a drug overdose, because the estate was on the brink of bankruptcy and he

needed someone to manage his business affairs. Branton restructured the

assets, settled all the pending litigation and reestablished control over

most of Hendrix's original master tapes. He drew up contracts in 1974 which

were signed by the elder Hendrix, relinquishing all the rights to his sons

"unmastered" tapes for $50,000 to Presentaciones Musicales SA (PMSA), a

Panamanian corporation, and then transferred over all his stock in Bella

Godiva, his son's music publishing company for a mere $50,000, on Branton's

advice. He did not disclose to Hendrix that he also represented PMSA in the

deal, according to Hendrix.

Also named were producer Alan Douglas, who had been supervising the

reissuing of Jimi Hendrix music for over twenty years, including setting up

the Are You Experienced? touring shows, in a deal negotiated by

Branton; Bella Godiva Music Inc.; Presentaciones Musicales SA, a Panamanian

corporation; Bureau Voor Muzeikrechten Elber B.V. based in the Netherlands;

and Interlit, based in the British Virgin Islands.

As the rights revert to Al Hendrix, which could be worth as much as $80

million dollars, he is required to pay Branton and others between $5 million

and $10 million over time to resolve the matter. His other costs are the

repayment of a $5 million dollar interest free loan extended to him by Paul

Allen, the billionaire Microsoft co-founder, to finance the

litigation--something Hendrix couldn't have shouldered on his own. The family

were asked to repay the loan only if they prevailed. Despite that loan, Paul

Allen and the Hendrix family have disagreed over Allen's plans for a Hendrix

museum in Seattle. Once called The Jimi Hendrix Museum, it has now been

renamed The Experience Music Project, and has been broadened to cover music

of the Pacific Northwest.

In a news conference Al Hendrix said he "was elated" to recover the rights to

his son's music, which he says that he listens to regularly.