Back in August an auction company announced their intentions to sell "rights to the entire Jimi Hendrix catalog." My first thought was cool! How great would it be to own "Purple Haze" and "Hey Joe"?!?! I even posted something up on my blog about it. But, I quickly was contacted by the folks at "Experience Hendrix", the Seattle-based company founded by Jimi Hendrix's father to administer his estate and copyrights. They put a big damper on my dreams to own part of rock history [ok, so I couldn't afford it anyway].
According to a rep for Experience Hendrix, the auction winner will be left with a virtually worthless prize. Apparently, what is for sale is a "claim" to Hendrix recordings and songs on behalf of the estate of Frank Jeffery, the father of Jimi's former manager Michael Jeffery. So, you wouldn't actually be buying the songs. You'd be buying the rights to a "legal claim" asserting some interest in the songs. To make matters more complicated, or from their perspective simplified, Experience Hendrix says the legal claims have already been settled and that they are worthless. They explained in a statement that, in 1995, Al Hendrix [Jimi's father] obtained direct ownership of the Hendrix legacy after litigation in the U.S. District Court in Seattle. So, the auction set for later this month may or may not give the buyer any leg to stand on when it comes to controlling any of Hendrix's compositions.
Indeed, Experience Hendrix, through their rep, says they've warned the auction company about the prior settlements and court wranglings they say resolved all this and the auction house is still pushing forward. Experience Hendrix vows to continue to oppose the claim and says they will take legal action against anyone who infringes on its interests in Hendrix songs and recordings based on this purported claim.
It'll be interesting to see if anyone shells out the big bucks to take a chance on this. But, considering the winner would be going up against the Hendrix family it'd seem a little cheesy to do so, in my humble opinion. Hopefully, it all gets straightened out and us Jimi fans can go on enjoying the music, despite the behind the scenes legal shenanigans.