Jimi Hendrix estate sues bandmates’ heirs after alleged royalties and copyright threat

The estate of Jimi Hendrix is suing the heirs of the trailblazing guitarist’s former bandmates after they allegedly threatened to sue for “millions of pounds” in unpaid royalties dating back decades, Billboard reports.

在十二月, Lawrence Abramson, a British lawyer representing the families of the Jimi Hendrix Experience bassist David Noel Redding and drummer John Graham “Mitch” Mitchell, sent a cease-and-desist letter that claimed they owned a stake in Hendrix’s music and threatened to sue for infringement.

In a case filed on 18 January in Manhattan, the Hendrix estate and Sony Music, the exclusive licence holder of Hendrix’s catalogue, requested a legal declaration stating that they owed nothing.

They said that the claims were invalid given that Redding and Mitchell signed “broad general releases” and agreements not to sue in exchange for “significant monetary consideration” after Hendrix’s death. Their lawyers claim that Redding signed in April 1973 and Mitchell in September 1974 agreeing to release the Hendrix estate from legal claims, Rolling Stone reports.

The Hendrix estate and Sony said that the settlements “specifically” concerned the band’s recordings and that there had been no claim by Redding and Mitchell or their successors “for almost half a century … concerning the copyright ownership, exploitation of these recordings by plaintiffs or payments of royalties”.

Hendrix and Sony are not suing for damages, but a ruling that exonerates them of the claims made by representatives for Redding and Mitchell.

The Guardian contacted representatives for Redding and Mitchell’s estates, who said they could not yet comment.

In the cease-and-desist letter, representatives for the Redding and Mitchell estates argued that the agreements reached in 1970 were unenforceable and that they were owed millions in royalties dating back to 1973.

Hendrix formed the Jimi Hendrix Experience in 1966. They scored hits, particularly in the UK, with songs such as their cover of All Along the Watchtower and originals Voodoo Chile and Purple Haze. The group broke up in 1969 after Redding’s departure.

Hendrix died in September 1970 在年龄 27. Redding died in 2003 and Mitchell in 2008. Lawyers for the group’s rhythm section claim that “both died in relative poverty having never received their true entitlement from their works, performances and founding membership of the Jimi Hendrix Experience”.

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