Whenever a celebrity dies under mysterious circumstances, it’s natural that conspiracy theories will arise. Jimi Hendrix, who died on this date fifty years ago, passed away in a London apartment under extremely shady circumstances. This Saturday, (8 PM EST/5 PM PST0, Reelz will air a two hour documentary, Jimi Hendrix: A Perfect Murder?, that examines the issue and the evidence related to his death.
When he died in 1970, Hendrix’s career was in transition. He had formed a new backing group, Band Of Gypsies. Michael Jeffery, his manager, was not enthusiastic about his having an all-black backing band. Furthermore, Jeffery’s contract was about to expire, and as a result he put Hendrix on a grueling touring regime in order to cash in one last time. The touring took a toll on Hendrix; in his last weeks, friends noted how zombie-like he appeared. Tired, weak, and ill, to keep up with the pace, Hendrix had developed a habit of taking uppers to stay awake and downers to sleep.
Romantic entanglements also add to the cocktail of mystery surrounding Hendrix’s death. Hendrix died in the apartment of Monika Dannemann, a German artist he had met the year before. She had been his companion over the last few days of her life. Though she portrayed their relationship to be a serious one, questions arise about just how seriously Hendrix took it; after all, he was purportedly engaged to another woman at the time. Was she a paramour? Was she a groupie? Or was she something much more nefarious?
Officials attributed Hendrix’s cause of death to drowning on his own vomit. Yet as A Perfect Murder shows, the official death certificate left the nature of his death to be open. Discrepancies in Dannemann’s testimony mixed with some suspicious facts related to Hendrix’s death meant that not everyone in Hendrix’s circle accepted the official report. Throw in the intrigue of shady businessmen and even shadier hangers-on, and the tragic death of one of the greatest guitar players of all time grows even more mysterious.
The world may never know exactly what happened to Jimi Hendrix on that fateful morning fifty years ago today. Jimi Hendrix: A Perfect Murder? doesn’t attempt to offer a concrete explanation; it simply offers the facts of the case and allows the viewer to draw their own conclusion.