Jimi Hendrix Estate Sues Ex-Bandmate’s Heirs Over Royalties, Copyright Threat

Videos by American Songwriter

Videos by American Songwriter

The Jimi Hendrix estate has filed a lawsuit against the heirs of former Jimi Hendrix Experience bandmates, drummer John Graham “Mitch” Mitchell, and bassist David Noel Redding, after they threatened to sue for millions of dollars in unpaid royalties dating back several decades.

In December of 2021, Lawrence Abramson, a British lawyer representing the families of Mitchell and Redding sent a cease-and-desist letter claiming they were owed a stake in Hendrix’s music and threatened to sue for infringement. The Hendrix estate and Sony Music, the exclusive licensee of Hendrix’s music, which is owned by Hendrix Experience LLC and Authentic Hendrix LLC, stated that they owed nothing in a case filed on Jan. 18, 2022, in New York City.

The case also stated that the claims were invalid since Redding and Mitchell signed “broad general releases” and agreements not to sue in exchange for “significant monetary consideration” following Hendrix’s untimely death on Sept. 18, 1970.

Redding signed in April 1973 and Mitchell in September 1974 and agreed to release the Hendrix estate from legal claims, and there has been no claim of copyright or royalties by either, or their heirs, for nearly 50 years, say lawyers for the Sony and the Hendrix estate.

“For almost half a century, there has never been any claim by defendants or their successors … concerning the copyright ownership, exploitation of these recordings by plaintiffs, or payments of royalties,” wrote the Hendrix estate and Sony.

Representatives for the Redding and Mitchell estates argued that the original agreements were unbinding, and they are owed millions in back royalties dating back to 1973.

The Hendrix estate and Sony are requesting a ruling exonerating them of the claims made by the families of Redding, who died in 2003, and Mitchell, who passed away in 2008. Lawyers for Mitchell and Redding said that both died in “relative poverty having never received their true entitlement.”

Formed in 1966, the Jimi Hendrix Experience released hits “Purple Haze” and their cover of Bob Dylan’s “All Along the Watchtower,” which spent nine weeks on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1968 and peaked at No. 20.

Photo: YouTube / Coda Collection

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