When a musician dies and there’s a lot of money involved, it can get nasty. You know the saying about how money is the root of all evil. You don’t get rich by being nice. An Instagram account I follow, @woke.yolk, brought this to my attention with her posts on the topic, which you can find embedded below. These were big help to me. I’ll give a summary of the information and talk about why this is an important issue in my own words. Big shoutout to @woke.yolk, who writes a lot about classic rock and social justice, two things that I’m very passionate about.
The original Instagram posts from the Hendrix Music Academy can be found below. Follow them to get updates on the situation.
Why this matters:
What’s not to love about Jimi Hendrix? He was a guitar legend and innovator and was always so humble. He didn’t like being called the best guitarist. At one point, he said that honour belongs to Rory Gallagher. One of my favourite Hendrix quotes is this one here and you probably know it:
“When the power of love overcomes the love of power, the world will know peace.”
It’s a very hippie quote and it’s something we should all live by. Forget about having the most power or money. Instead focus on loving those who are important to you and spreading love.
Like lots of musicians of the time period, Jimi Hendrix got screwed over. Record company makes the bulk of the money and the musician gets peanuts even though without the musician, the record label wouldn’t have a product to sell to the masses. Art has always been undervalued and looked down upon, especially by white collar business types. They’ll wave it off like “it’s just music” “anyone can make music” and that the real talent is the business side of things because that’s where the money is or whatever. I’m not going to talk about conspiracy theories related to Jimi Hendrix’s death in this blog post, since I’ve talked about that already. Managers will take their cut and then put the money in offshore bank accounts and start corporations or whatever shady things they do so they pay less taxes and leech off the musician. I don’t know anything about business, I’m just a rock historian.
As a Jimi Hendrix fan and a music blogger/journalist, I want to raise awareness of this.
After Jimi’s death, there were lots of arguments in his family over money and the estate – select family members got a piece of the pie, and the rest got the short end of the stick and basically got nothing. For example, Jimi’s brother Leon tried to sue Janie to have control over Hendrix’s estate, but all Leon was entitled to was one gold record – that’s it. The ones who got the money and are running Experience Hendrix and Authentic Hendrix, LLC – the companies that run the official Jimi Hendrix accounts and get the money from merch sales, are greedy and litigious and will sue if you try to use Jimi Hendrix’s name or any related logos or try to use his music. Experience Hendrix sound an awful lot like Disney. No such thing as being too rich or having too much money.
The Experience Hendrix and Authentic Hendrix corporations were started by Al Hendrix, Jimi’s father, but since he passed away, his adopted daughter (no blood relations to Jimi Hendrix, was not born a Hendrix – only met him a couple of times around the age of 8 or 9), Janie, took over and is running those two corporations. The fact that she is trying to screw over family by suing the Hendrix Music Academy (which is run by Jimi’s niece, Tina), I’m speechless. This makes my blood boil, and it’s not just about screwing over family members, it’s about the community too. This is Karen behaviour.
According to a statement Tina posted on the Hendrix Music Academy (HMA) page, in 1988, Al Hendrix gave Leon (Tina’s dad) and his descendants permission to use Jimi Hendrix’s name for charitable purposes only. HMA, founded in 2009, are an organisation that give free musical instruments, lessons, and meals for at risk and underserved youth in Seattle. They rely on small donations from Jimi Hendrix fans who want to do good and give back to the community their hero is from.
The organisation don’t have a lot of money and Experience Hendrix do and can afford the best lawyers money can buy and basically destroy HMA and harm the community that it serves. COVID is only making the situation worse because people have less money to give now. The organisation only have one paid employee who works part time and the rest of the staff are volunteers. They make a huge difference to the community they serve.
How can you tell someone that they can’t use their own last name and artwork that the musician’s brother made for their organisation? It’s greedy and petty.
What can fans do?:
As suggested in the Instagram post above:
- Unfollow any official Jimi Hendrix accounts and do not purchase any official licensed merch.
- Share this blog post or the Instagram posts above.
- Write comments on posts (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter) related to Jimi Hendrix talking about the lawsuit. You can use hashtags like #BoycottExperienceHendrixLLC and #SaveTheHendrixMusicAcademy
- Tell your friends about this. If word spreads around, chances are someone might have connections to someone with clout, like a journalist or famous musician who can talk about this.
- Tag any classic rock influencers and bloggers. Heck, shoot for the moon and tag rock musicians (especially ones who were friends/acquaintances with Jimi Hendrix) or classic rock DJs or journalists (especially in the Seattle area). If you get big names and publications talking about this, this can create pressure to drop the lawsuit.
Disclaimer: In case Experience Hendrix are reading this, I have no affiliation/association with the Hendrix family. Never met any of them. I am not associated with the Hendrix Music Academy. I have never even really been to Seattle even. I’m just a Jimi Hendrix fan with an opinion.