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Sunday, 2 January, 2000, 16:14 GMT
Hendrix's purple memories


Jimi Hendrix: His legacy is still a controversial subject


By BBC News Online's Darryl Chamberlain

A rock legend from another generation is set to be one of the faces of 2000, as fans prepare to mark the 30th anniversary of Jimi Hendrix's death.

Hendrix died in his sleep after overdosing on barbiturates in London on 18 September 1970, aged just 27.

The musician who changed the way rock fans thought about guitars is remembered with fondness by those who knew him - but his legacy continues to be the subject of controversy.

Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen planned to build his own museum to Hendrix in the performer's home city of Seattle.


Hendrix's body will be exhumed and re-interred in the family's memorial
But after a falling-out with the Hendrix family - which both parties refuse to talk about - his plans for the Experience Music Project, although still spectacular, have mutated into a general music museum.

The Hendrix family's own plans have also led to disputes. They include the unveiling of a lavish memorial at the cemetery where he is buried.

His remains will be moved and re-interred in the memorial, which will also include plots for up to 60 members of the Hendrix family.

The family are appealing for money from fans to help build the memorial - but the plans have proved controversial with some that were close to him. Hendrix's bass player Noel Redding and ex-girlfriend Kathy Etchingham are among the critics.



When you see things like a Jimi Hendrix golf cart being marketed, it does suggest that there is a lack of respect for what the man was trying to stand for
Johnny Black
Music writer Johnny Black, who has just published his own biography of the performer, is sceptical of what he sees as the commercialisation of the performer.

"When you see things like a Jimi Hendrix golf cart being marketed, which is one of the things I've heard of, then it does suggest that there is a lack of respect for what the man was trying to stand for - being the best musician he could be."

Black's book, Eyewitness Hendrix, is a day-by-day account of Hendrix's life from his birth in 1942, up to his fame and his sudden death.

The people he spoke to researching the book have fond memories of one of rock's original wild men.


Paul Allen's Seattle museum takes shape
"You would meet this guy - he was a big lad, well over six feet, and he would meet a lady and he would always say 'Hello, ma'am, nice to meet you,' he would stand up when they came in the room, he would offer them his seat.

"He was an exceptionally charming person, who then took to the stage and became Jimi Hendrix the entertainer."

Although most people have fond memories of Hendrix - his old friends often have few good words to say about each other.



People are resentful that they didn't get what they think is their due, and also they want to stake their claim on the legend.
Johnny Black
This feuding ended in tragedy in 1996 when one ex-girlfriend, Monika Danneman, committed suicide after losing a court case brought by another former lover, Kathy Etchingham.

The two had been in dispute over the circumstances of Hendrix's death - leading to the police reopening their inquiries into the incident in 1993.

Black says: "It's inevitable, because there's a lot of money involved, and there are people who ought to have a portion of the money accruing to the Hendrix estate.


A model of Allen's museum
"People are resentful that they didn't get what they think is their due, and also they want to stake their claim on the legend.

"The various ex-girlfriends tend to be vicious about each other, and I think that's about each of them saying 'I was his real love'. I think a lot of them are effectively deceiving themselves."

Black is hoping Hendrix will be remembered for his contribution to rock music, and his use of feedback and technology to set a path for others to follow.

If he was still around to see in the new millennium, Black feels Hendrix would have been an Eric Clapton-style "elder statesman" of rock.

"He would be a survivor, and he probably would have got into into jazz, that's my guess.

"He resented that he had to do the stunts to be successful, he wanted to be successful because people thought he was a good player, but unfortunately that's not the way it works."

Eyewitness Hendrix, by Johnny Black, is published by Carlton, priced 15.99

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