Jimi Hendrix’s indelible mark on the music world is undisputed, yet a contentious legal battle has arisen over his royalties, as relatives of his British bandmates bring a lawsuit against Sony Music in the High Court of London, alleging that the label owes them millions of pounds. The late guitarist’s bassist, Noel Redding, and drummer, Mitch Mitchell – both of whom were part of the iconic Jimi Hendrix Experience formed in 1966 – have heirs who claim that Sony Music has profited from unauthorized exploitation that infringes upon their copyrights and performers’ rights. The heirs assert that their relatives were entitled to 25 percent of the band’s income each, while the remaining 50 percent belonged to Jimi Hendrix himself, who passed away in 1970.
The legal claim delves into whether Redding and Mitchell, both of whom passed away in 2003 and 2008 respectively, signed away their rights during the 1970s. A historical context reveals that the relatives lodged a claim against the Hendrix estate in the US back in 1972, which was later settled, with Mitchell receiving $247,500 and Redding $100,000. Despite these settlements, the heirs’ recent legal action challenges the assumption that the 1970s agreements are still binding.
Sony’s efforts to delay the London case have faced hurdles, with Judge Edwin Johnson clarifying that the New York law pertains specifically to the settlements signed by Redding and Mitchell, rather than the entirety of the claims. Notably, Redding had been preparing a claim of over £3 million against the Hendrix estate before his death, while Mitchell’s estate went to his daughter, Aysha.
The legal wrangling brings to light the intricate web of agreements, rights, and legacies that surround musical icons, underscoring the ongoing struggle to ensure fair compensation for those connected to their enduring artistry. As the legal proceedings unfold, the case sparks discussions about the delicate balance between artistic heritage and the financial interests of those who contributed to its creation.
Derek Chan – Editor