Friday, May 28, 2010

Did the CIA Kill Jimi Hendrix?

BY JOHN POTASH / Rock Creek Free Press

Newly released songs by legendary guitarist Jimi Hendrix have led music magazines such as Rolling Stone to feature him in cover stories, despite his death four decades ago. Closer scrutiny of Hendrix’s life suggests that US and British Intelligence targeted Hendrix for developing anti-war and pro-Black Panther politics. Such targeting helps explain why Hendrix failed to release much of his music before his death. It also exemplifies the extreme tactics imperialist governments use to stop anyone who could have more sway over people’s hearts and minds than does the government.

This past March stores started selling a CD of Hendrix’s previously unreleased recordings, titled “Valleys of Neptune”. These dozen songs were some of the hundreds Hendrix failed to release during his brief career. Posthumous releases of the prolific guitarist’s recordings continued for decades after his death. New evidence supports one of the reasons why Jimi Hendrix’s manager, Mike Jeffery, worked to block Hendrix from releasing more of his songs. Leading biographers have said in print that Jeffery stated he “used to” work for MI6—Britain’s CIA. In 2009, James Wright, a road manager for a band that Mike Jeffery also managed, The Animals, made an important claim against Jeffery. In his published book Wright claimed that Jeffery admitted to him that he had Hendrix killed because the rock star wanted to end his management contract with Wright.

US/British Intelligence 1960’s Attack on Political Musicians

Researchers such as British magazine editor Frances Stonor Saunders outlined how American and British Intelligence forces colluded in their work against leftist artists, writers and musicians. She gave several examples of this in her book, The Cultural Cold War. Black artists were a particular Intelligence focus partly because the racism blacks experienced often led them to have anti imperialist political perspectives.

For example, intelligence agencies closely monitored black writers Richard Wright and Franz Fanon (Gayle, Richard Wright, 1980). Researchers highly suspected US Intelligence actions in both these writers’ deaths, particularly Wright’s early death. Frances Saunders said that after Wright moved to Paris, the CIA and FBI monitored him closely until “he died in mysterious circumstances in 1960.”

US intelligence also had a particular longtime concern about political musicians and had sophisticated strategies for attacking them. An exposed intelligence document reviewed by a 1976 congressional committee examining the FBI’s Counterintelligence Program detailed many tactics used against political musicians (Constantine, Covert War Against Rock, 2001). It instructed agents to: “Show them as scurrilous and depraved. Call attention to their habits and living conditions, explore every possible embarrassment. Send in women and sex, break up marriages. Have members arrested on marijuana charges. Investigate personal confl icts or animosities between them. Send articles to the newspapers showing their depravity. Use narcotics and free sex to entrap. Use misinformation to confuse and disrupt. Get records of their bank accounts. Obtain specimens of their handwriting. Provoke target groups into rivalries that may result in death.”


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Hendrix’s Rise in Britain, Politicization and Intelligence Targeting

In the US, Hendrix received little fame during the mid-1960s while he toured with music legends such as Sam Cooke (“You Send Me”). Cooke died under questionable circumstances himself. Jimi Hendrix then moved to England where he quickly rose to stardom. Mike Jeffery coerced his way into managing Hendrix by 1967. Evidence of Jeffery’s continued MI6 work included his partnerships with CIA-linked figures, his sudden huge wealth, and his skills at acquiring CIA-type tax havens in the Bahamas.

By 1968 Jimi Hendrix had become popular worldwide. The assassination of Martin Luther King that year led Hendrix to engage in more radical-left activism. Hendrix’s fiancee, Monika Danneman, and top biographers, such as Harry Shapiro and Caesar Glebbeek, noted Hendrix’s change. He began promoting the Black Panthers in interviews, played benefits for Panther Bobby Seale and the war-protesting Chicago Seven, and dedicated his last album to the Panthers.

With his vast popularity among blacks and whites, Jimi Hendrix began posing a threat to bigoted pro-war groups. Former Air Force Secretary Townsend Hoopes said one of the government’s greatest fears was “the fateful merging of anti-war and racial dissension.” The FBI and police began targeting Hendrix in the US, and other countries aided their efforts when he went abroad. Such collaboration was common through the International police group “Interpol.” The FBI started a closely guarded fi le on Hendrix and placed him on a security list of subversives to be rounded up for detainment in case of a national emergency. Police detectives began round-the-clock surveillance of Hendrix and his band.

Media Smears and Spy Manager Manipulations

Intelligence forces appeared to use several of the tactics outlined in the above intelligence memorandum regarding political musicians. In Toronto, Canadian federal police arrested Hendrix at an airport, claiming that he transported drugs. Shapiro and Glebbeek cited Hendrix saying he’d never take such a risk and that his manager, Mike Jeffery, set up that airport arrest.

Furthermore, regarding Hendrix and drug use, Shapiro and Glebbeek said that, contrary to popular belief, Hendrix produced his fi rst classic album, “Are You Experienced?”, with virtually no drug use. After his rise to fame, Hendrix only snorted heroin a couple times and did some pills, while also tripping on LSD at times. By later 1969, Danneman said Hendrix gave it all up except for minimal amounts of alcohol and marijuana use. Throughout Hendrix’s life and after his death, media reports claimed Hendrix’s depravity and debauchery with drugs.

Shapiro, Glebbeek and Monika Danneman also claimed that manager Mike Jeffery consistently sabotaged the guitar legend’s political activist work. For example, Danneman said that when Hendrix played one antiwar benefit show that Jeffery opposed, Hendrix believed his manager dosed his drink with LSD. Hendrix had given up LSD by that time and ended his set early, discouraged that he wasn’t playing to his best ability.

The biographers and Danneman further accused Jeffery of manipulating Hendrix with Mafi a connections to intimidate him not to end their management relationship. For example, few know that Mafia figures kidnapped Hendrix for several days in Manhattan in 1969. Jeffery collaborated with a band manager named Jerry Morrison to miraculously get Hendrix free, supposedly with “tougher” Mafi a. Morrison formerly worked as the propagandist for CIA-supported Haitian dictator Papa Doc Duvalier. Researchers have previously noted how the Mafia and US Intelligence colluded to target other black entertainers, as well as Martin Luther King and Robert F. Kennedy (William Pepper, Act of State; William Turner and Jonn Christian, The Assassination of Robert F. Kennedy).

Multiple reports cite other ways Mike Jeffery tried to undermine Jimi Hendrix’s career. For example, as stated above, Jeffery blocked release of many Hendrix albums. Jeffery gained this control by getting Hendrix to sign a complicated set of contracts in 1968. Jeffery also stole vast sums of money from Hendrix, leaving him broke at times.

Hendrix’s Mysterious Death After Firing Manager, and Government Cover-up

Rumors continue as to how Jimi Hendrix died at the age of 27. Living with him at that time, Monika Danneman appeared to give the most reliable account. While Shapiro and Glebbeek had some discrepancies with Danneman’s recollection of Hendrix’s last 24 hours, most of their eyewitnesses’ reports backed Danneman’s general description.

Danneman said that on September 18, 1970, the day after Hendrix fi nally fi red Jeffery, she found her fi ance unconscious in their London apartment bed before noon. Hendrix had been at a party the night before and took sleeping pills to counter unusually bad insomnia he had that night. Danneman called an ambulance and Hendrix died within an hour or two.

The coroner said that what Hendrix had in him shouldn’t have killed him. The coroner found a non-fatal dose of sleeping tablets, a small amount of alcohol, a trace of the barbiturate Seconal, and 20 mg of amphetamine (speed). The coroner declared that Hendrix should have recovered from the pills, so the official cause of death was “inhalation of vomit due to Barbiturate intoxication.” Danneman said that after Hendrix returned from the party that night, he showed her a handful of pills people gave him at the party, which he then discarded. Danneman suspected that someone put pills in his drinks without his knowledge.

Government offi cials’ foul play abounded thereafter. Danneman said that when police investigated her place they failed to take anything and warned her to not say anything about the death. Then, an offi cial British inquest resulted in the London coroner and the inquest members declaring an open (inconclusive) verdict on Hendrix’s death. The inquest had only called three witnesses to testify: Danneman, Hendrix’s road manager and the coroner. They failed to have the ambulance workers, the people Hendrix saw at the party, or the hospital doctors testify. Such investigative omissions further indicate possible government intelligence involvement in Hendrix’s murder.

Further evidence of government foul play includes media-echoed police reports that Hendrix left recorded messages with his friend Chas Chandler, saying that he was suicidal. Chandler said he didn’t own an answering machine. The coroner also found an unidentifi able compound in Hendrix’s body. Top doctors told Danneman that because the coroner waited several days to do Hendrix’s autopsy, any poisons in his system may have no longer been in a detectable state.

Other Investigations and Government Cover-up Around Hendrix’s Death

Groups reexamined Jimi Hendrix’s death at least twice in later years. In 1975, the magazine Crawdaddy investigated and concluded that a death squad of undercover intelligence agents killed Hendrix. While that magazine’s sources are uncertain, more official inquests followed.

In 1992, England’s attorney general ordered an inquiry into Hendrix’s death, and Scotland Yard also re-examined the case. Danneman, Shapiro and Glebbeek easily contradicted Scotland Yard, exposing the agency’s cover-up. For example, Scotland Yard claimed to quote Hendrix’s attending doctor, Dr. John Bannister, saying Hendrix was “dead on arrival… [dying] in the ambulance or at home.” The ambulance workers denied Hendrix was dead on arrival, as supported by official reports of his death an hour after arriving at the hospital.

Danneman also asked for more information from Dr. Bannister. Scotland Yard told her he had been struck off England’s official list of doctors, without any further explanation. In 2009, Dr. Bannister turned up, reporting in a London Times article that he moved to Australia in 1972. He eventually lost his license there for fraudulent behavior. In that 2009 Times article, though, Bannister supported road manager James Wright’s assertion about Jeffery saying he had Hendrix killed and that Hendrix appeared to have been murdered.

Fight over Hendrix’s Posthumous Music, Linked Deaths and his Legacy

Mike Jeffery confi scated all of Hendrix’s recordings and belongings from his New York studio. It took 25 years for Al Hendrix to gain the rights to his son’s music from Warner Records. And then, on albums and memorabilia that made over $100 million in sales, he was only given $2 million.

Several groups sued Hendrix’s manager, Mike Jeffery, for money he owed them. A judge allowed Jeffery to travel for business during the trial, and Jeffery reportedly died in a plane crash in 1973. Because a witness only identified Jeffery from his jewelry, some believe he escaped with the shell company fortunes he created. Jeffery created his tax haven shell with the same Bahamas institutions that worked later with George H.W. Bush’s CIA in the BCCI/Iran-Contra scandal.

One key Hendrix-linked death occurred much later. Monika Danneman said Jeffery threatened to kill her if she published the memoir about Hendrix that she wrote in 1971. She said she lost her book manuscript twice between 1971 and 1973, fi rst to a thief she believed Jeffery sent, and then to a Jeffery associate.

In 1995, Monika Danneman fi nally published a book (The Inner World of Jimi Hendrix) about Hendrix’s activist political plans, Jeffery’s sabotage, and government cover-up. News reports said Danneman killed herself in 1996. Her close friends believe she was murdered. They said Danneman had continued getting death threats over the years and had just finished a long interview for a film on Hendrix.

While most rock historians still consider Jimi Hendrix the top guitarist of all time, his image remains soiled with falsehoods. Evidence supports that he was moving away from drugs and that intelligence forces killed him for the political activism he started in 1969. Such evidence also suggests that other political musicians’ early deaths deserve more scrutiny.

This article was adapted from a chapter of  The FBI War on Tupac Shakur and Black Leaders,



  1. I think there is no question the US government killed Hendrix. However given that there are at least 12 different agencies that spy on American citizens, I think it's hard to pinpoint exactly which one did it. It's my impression that most covert assassinations are contracted out to private companies at present - so there is less and less of a paper trail when people die mysteriously and unexpectedly. Sometimes people with a political message have to keep all their wits about them just to stay alive. I describe my own "interesting" experiences that led me to emigrate to New Zealand 8 years ago in THE MOST REVOLUTIONARY ACT: MEMOIR OF AN AMERICAN REFUGEE. More about the book at

  2. jimi Hendrix, Jim Morrison, Janis Joplin. All dead in a year. All in apparent overdoses- i.e. choking on their vomit etc. Sounds like an op to not only eliminate the top 3 american 60's rock heroes, but to do so in a way that would shame them and the movement.

  3. Jimi Hendrix was waterboarded with wine.

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  5. There's some serious corner cutting and outright wrong information is this article but otherwise it is basically on the right track. For instance friends of Jimi saw him voluntarily take the acid before the Madison Square Garden Peace benefit. Also, he didn't have his drink spiked the night he died because the autopsy showed the main drug in his system was the Quinalbarbitone of the Vesparax sleeping tablets. He had told his doctor he intended to take some sleeping pills for his insomnia. I suspect the super-powerful Vesparax were deliberately placed in his reach to make him pass-out.

    Jimi was most likely murdered by a CIA COINTELPRO operation and political assassination using Jeffery. Funny how 1 month after Jeffery confessed to Tappy Wright he died in a strange mid-air crash that could only be arranged at the CIA level.

    What people don't know is the Bahamian banks Jeffery kept Jimi's stolen money in were the same ones CIA kept their most sensitive black ops funds in. Jimi was leading his lawyers to those banks. Suddenly he ends up dead from - alcoholic waterboarding in combination with barbiturates, a strictly military intelligence method of covert murder.

  6. I'm just seeing this comment for the first time. Jimi Hendrix's fiancee, Monica Danneman claimed Jimi Hendrix told her he believed Jeffery spiked his drink with acid. I don't know why she would make this up. It's her word against these supposed friends. Within a year of her publishing her account, she died and her friends thought she was murdered. Jeffery had made death threats to her just after Hendrix's death. Also, my book, The FBI War on Tupac Shakur and Black Leaders, has much on the Bahamian bank accounts of Jeffery. Overall, thanks for your comments.

  7. Don't believe anything Monika says. I believe she was possibly there when Jimi was murdered and was possibly an infiltrator hired by Jeffery. Monika's story was that the Samarkand was a secret place only known to her and Jimi, however it was only 2 blocks from Jimi's stage manager Gerry Stickells' flat. In December 1970 Stickells screwed-up and told an interviewer he was at the Samarkand earlier that evening but had no idea what would transpire later on. At the Inquest he went out of his way to make an alibi that he went to the Cumberland when called and had no idea about the Samarkand. However Jimi had visited Billy Cox at Stickells' place on the 16th. Stickells was nursing the spiked LSD victim Cox who Jeffery was trying to get out of the band. I find it hard to believe Jimi was only 2 blocks from the Samarkand on the 16th, concerned about Cox, and didn't tell Stickells about the Samarkand. I also find it hard to believe someone called Stickells and told him Jimi was in serious trouble and didn't tell him where he was.

    I think what is obvious here is Monika, being German and unfamiliar with London, was somehow under Jeffery's instruction and went to him to get a flat in London. Stickells got her one near his place because he knew about it. The Samarkand was a death trap set-up by Jeffery with Monika's cooperation. Stickells never gave any interviews or appeared in any Hendrix documentary from that day on.

    Buddy Miles said he saw Jeffery give Jimi 2 tabs of acid the night of the Moratorium Concert. Jimi said it was Devon. Either way because Devon worked for Jeffery.

    I believe I can prove the murder in the forensic evidence. I think a 'Justice For Jimi' website needs to be made.

  8. I'm not sure if you know everything about those Bahamian banks you need to know. CIA made a deal with the US mob after Castro that if they helped prevent another Castro CIA would look the other way and let them run the Caribbean. In return CIA got a healthy cut of mob proceeds it then deposited into those Bahamian banks. CIA did that to prevent any US audit of their funds. These covert funds were then used to fund the CIA's most wicked anti-communist black operations.

    I think there's good reason to suspect Michael Jeffery was recruited right out of MI-5 to run the British branch of this illegal funding program. He ripped the Animals off blind through those same banks before he ever heard of Hendrix. Jeffery staged a kidnapping of Hendrix where he put Jimi on the phone and told him "There are very powerful people who depend on me being your manager and if you ever fire me you will be killed". In the week before Jimi was murdered he was sending his lawyers to investigate those banks. A few hours after calling his NY lawyers to fire Jeffery Jimi died by a classic CIA method designed to look like a drug overdose.

    CIA gave itself away by murdering Jeffery. CIA knew eventually smart investigators would have figured this stuff out and asked Jeffery questions he couldn't answer, so they called him to his nightclub to help fix strange electrical problems and got French Air Traffic Controllers to strike. They then put military controllers in charge of French air traffic and steered two planes into each other. CIA is the only outfit that could have arranged this. They couldn't wack Jeffery outright because it would be too obvious.

    If you think this is crazy Wikipedia BCCI Bank and read how the CIA used it during the CONTRA era. The banks Jeffery used were much more vital and much more protected during the Cold War.

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