The estate of Jimi Hendrix is suing the estates of his former bandmates. The case, filed Tuesday (Jan. 18), is reportedly in response to the heirs of said bandmates threatening a lawsuit of their own over unpaid royalties dating back to 1973.
In Manhattan federal court, Hendrix’s estate along with Sony Music (the exclusive licensee of the late rockstar’s catalog) asked for a legal declaration that states nothing is owed to the estates of David Noel Redding and John Graham “Mitch” Mitchell, the musicians with whom the guitarist founded The Jimi Hendrix Experience. The Hendrix family and Sony are not suing for damages.
A cease-and-desist was issued in Dec. 2021 from those representing the families of Redding and Mitchell claiming partial ownership of Hendrix’s music. The estates are also threatening to sue for copyright infringement. Yet, in Tuesday’s filing, those allegations were said to be false since Redding and Mitchell signed away any rights to the music immediately following Hendrix’s death in 1970. Amid their groupmate’s passing, both Redding and Mitchell contributed to “protracted” proceedings required to settle his estate.
Specifically, the filing also stated they signed “broad general releases” and agreements not to sue in exchange for “significant monetary consideration” that was reportedly paid at the time. In the December cease-and-desist, Noel Redding Estate Ltd. and Mitch Mitchell Estate Ltd. claimed the aforementioned agreements were “unenforceable.” This new lawsuit in response to those claims was filed on behalf of Hendrix Experience LLC, Authentic Hendrix LLC, and Sony Music.
“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,” the Hendrix estate and Sony expressed in a statement.
The Jimi Hendrix Experience was formed in 1966 with Hendrix on lead guitar and vocals, Redding on bass, and Mitchell on drums. They went on to release a number of chart-topping hits before Hendrix died on Sept. 18, 1970, at age 27. Redding died in 2003 and Mitchell died in 2008.