As promised here is the first of my articles about the people Hendrix was involved with on and around the day he died. I’m starting with Michael Jeffery Hendrix’s manager as he is known to have taken a lot of his money and suspected by many of actually killing him. Jeffery was a very shady character indeed, he was born in South London in 1933 the sole child of two postal workers. He completed his education in 1949 and took a job as a clerk with Mobil oil and was drafted into National Service two years later. His grades in science put him in the Educational corps, he signed on as a real soldier and entered the intelligence corps and then his military career enters an obscure phase. So quite how he ended up a night club manager and finally managing bands is a bit of a mystery.
He is alleged to have had connections to the CIA and in his obituary his dad apparently said he could speak Russian. He also boasted connections to organised crime and used thugs to get people to do his bidding as I’ll discuss later. he ran the “Club-a-go-go” in Newcastle the venue where “The Animals” established themselves, he became their manager around the time they started their recording career. By the time he had finished with them they had only £500 in their bank account, where the rest went nobody knows. Members of the band have openly condemned him and blame him for the original bands break up saying he worked them into the ground and stole all their money.
He was also apparently involved with Don Arden “The Al-Capone of pop” and Sharon Osbourne’s dad incidentally. He was also a shady character and helped Jeffery bring his acts to the South you can read more about him here. It was only because Jeffery managed “The Animals” that he got his claws into Hendrix who was bought to England by Chas Chandler (the animals bassist at one point) who wanted to manage Hendrix himself but ended up co-managing him with Jeffery who informed him he was entitled to commission from all Chandlers work including management projects.
Jeffery also continued to manage other acts like “Eric Burdon and The New Animals” and “The Alan Price Set” (led by ex-Animals organist) and “The Soft Machine” a pioneering prog rock band from Coventry. Chandler was in charge of the creative side of Hendrix’s work, while he left the business and financial side of things to Jeffery (Which I bet he later regretted when he realised he’d nicked all the money). Though he did help The Experience gain their American recording contract with reprise so not everything he did was terrible, though he did syphon off most of the money gained from it so it’s all swings and round abouts.
Then Jeffery started to suggest that Chandler and Hendrix put money in to other ventures like clubs and recording Studios, Chandler left capacity as both co-manager and producer to Hendrix in 1968 during the Electric lady land sessions having been bought out by Jeffery, this put him in complete control of Hendrix’s professional life. Jeffery’s financial resources became stretched around this time and to generate more revenue he had Hendrix tour heavily, often when Hendrix didn’t want to. He wasn’t happy when Hendrix broke up The Experience and is said by Buddy Miles to have tried to undermine Hendrix’s performance with his new band The Band Of Gypsies at Madison Square Gardens by giving Hendrix Acid. It’s also been reported that he used Mafioso type tactics to get Hendrix to do his bidding too like sending thugs to Wood Stock to bring Hendrix to new York to do a show at a club owned by Gangsters.
Jeffery also produced the film “Rainbow Bridge” which featured a lot of footage of Hendrix which was another project that distracted Hendrix from writing and recording new music. After Hendrix’s death Jeffery was involved in administering “Rainbow Bridge” and albums culled from unreleased live and studio material, but this was erratic and appeared more for his own financial gain than for his love of Jimmi.
Recently roadie James tappy Wright has written a book in which he claims Jeffery drunkenly confessed to killing Hendrix, he quotes him as saying: “I was in London the night of Jimi’s death and together with some old friends . . . we went round to Monika’s hotel room, got a handful of pills and stuffed them into his mouth . . . then poured a few bottles of red wine deep into his windpipe. I had to do it. Jimi was worth much more to me dead than alive. That son of a bitch was going to leave me. If I lost him, I’d lose everything.” And Tappy is not the only one he confessed to as well Alan Douglas he claims he also told him the same story. Jeffery is supposed to have died in a mid air plane crash in 1973 somewhere near France, personally I think he faked his death, it’s possible he wasn’t really on the plane at all, or if he was in the military he probably could use a parachute so could have jumped out after it took off. But that’s just my speculation there’s no evidence of that sadly, except his body was never recovered. Though that isn’t proof in itself as when 2 planes crash into each other over the sea I’m sure remains seldom are recovered.
Read my next article about Monika Danneman Hendrix’s “fiance” here