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 Cosmik Debris (mai 1997) : Interviews de Al Hendrix, Janie Hendrix

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MessageSujet: Cosmik Debris (mai 1997) : Interviews de Al Hendrix, Janie Hendrix    Cosmik Debris (mai 1997) : Interviews de Al Hendrix, Janie Hendrix  Icon_minitimeLun 12 Juil 2010 - 18:51


SOUND FILES: A listing of the sound files available on our website that
correspond with this issue of Cosmik Debris.

EDITOR'S NOTES: Welcoming our new writer, Rusty Pipes.

AL HENDRIX - PAPA'S BRAND NEW BAG: Al Hendrix has always been an ambassador
for his late son, guitar legend Jimi Hendrix. As the family business,
Experience Hendrix, makes its first splash in the record biz, Al's
popping up in quite a few interviews. Hey, here's one now.

JANIE HENDRIX TAKES CARE OF BUSINESS: Jimi Hendrix is in the news and on the
new release list once again. After 27 years of alleged musical abuse by
what is now known as "the old regime," the Hendrix family is finally in
charge of the vaults. Jimi's half sister, Janie Hendrix-Wright, has taken
charge of the family business, Experience Hendrix. In this interview, she
talks about her family, lets us in on future plans for Jimi Hendrix
releases, and faces down her critics.

Marshall takes a very close listen to each of the new releases from MCA
and Experience Hendrix, and compares them to previous versions. CDs and
180-gram audiophile vinyl, solo and head to head.

Source : http://web.textfiles.com/ezines/COSMIKDEBRIS/199705.txt

PAPA'S BRAND NEW BAG: Checking In With The Patriarch Of The Hendrix Family
Al Hendrix interviewed by DJ Johnson

Many things have changed for the Hendrix family over the past few years,
but one thing has never wavered: they are extremely proud of Jimi. When
I was lucky enough to meet Al Hendrix 20 years ago, I was struck by the
bubbling pride and admiration he exhibited toward his late son. All these
years later, he still gets that "proud papa" tone when he talks about Jimi's
exploits and his music.

From the time of Jimi Hendrix's death (1970) until very recently, Al received
$50,000 per year from the group of businessmen now referred to as "the old
regime." He wasn't included in the decision process or any other phase of
the operation. In fact, he often didn't even know when new albums were
released. Many of the albums, once purchased by the family, left a bad
taste in their mouths, primarily because they didn't sound like anything
Jimi would have released. Studio musicians were brought in to finish basic
tracks at Electric Lady Studios, often playing competent but gutless
anonymous parts that seemed out of place behind Jimi's brilliant guitar work.
Those recordings have been the center of controversy ever since. Al, his
daughter Janie and other members of the Hendrix family resolved to gain
control of Jimi's recordings and, using a similar process with different
musicians, release them as they believe Jimi would have released them.

After a lengthy court battle, Al and his family got what they wanted. With
his daughter Janie (Jimi's half sister) in the driver's seat, Experience
Hendrix launched the first batch of recordings in April. Are You Experienced,
Axis: Bold As Love, and Electric Ladyland have all been released on compact
disc before, but this is the first time that any have utilized first
generation master tapes. The most intriguing release, however, is First
Rays Of The New Rising Sun, which is presented as the album Jimi never
finished. This time around, the tracks were recorded by musicians that Jimi
would (or at least might) have recorded with, and this time around, it sounded
like the Jimi Hendrix we all knew and loved. As far as the family is concerned,
this album rights a terrible wrong.

And so the first batch of material from Experience Hendrix is on the market,
in both CD and 180-gram audiophile vinyl formats. Now that the family has
control of "the vaults," fans can look forward to years and years of new
releases, some of which were never even a rumor between hardcore fans and
bootleg traders up until now.

The following interviews took place on an afternoon when scheduling snafus
had made Al and Janie's normally hectic routine absolutely chaotic. After
the roar died down, they were kind enough to give me even more time than we
had originally scheduled. First, I spoke with Al.

* * *

Cosmik: How is the pace for you? Are your days all jam packed with
interviews now?

Al: Yeah. [Laughs] It's a lot of runnin' and jumpin'.

Cosmik: Do you get a chance to get your bowling and your golf in anymore?

Al: Well, I'm through with the bowling season, though they got a spring
one. But I'm gonna be too busy this summer, it looks like, to try to
do any bowling.

Cosmik: Now that the legal stuff is over and the control has been given to
the family, how has your life changed? What is your role in Experience
Hendrix now?

Al: Well, I'm just doing the same ol' same ol'. I don't have no office down
here or anything. I just come in once in a while to sign papers or do
interviews, or things of that sort.

Cosmik: So you're doing the interviews and being the front man...

Al: Yeah.

Cosmik: ...and Janie's handling the business.

Al: Yeah. Janie and all the family takes care of all the business.

Cosmik: How did it effect you, personally, to hear First Rays of the New
Rising Sun for the first time?

Al: It was great. I mean, that was the original. The way it was supposed
to have been, instead of some of the stuff that other people have put out
that had a lot of people playin' with Jimi that never played with him
before. Hearin' this new stuff, I mean, that was really tops.

Cosmik: I have to admit it was really a shock to put the vinyl on and hear
those songs sounding that different and powerful. The songs had been
released before, but with different musicians dubbing parts after Jimi
had passed away. Were any of those musicians people Jimi would have
worked with?

Al: No, after I looked into it, I found out that they just came out of the
woodwork after Jimi's death. I didn't know ANY of them. The only one I
knew of that Jimi ever mentioned to me was Eddie Kramer. He said Kramer
and him used to work together a lot in the studio. See, Jimi would spend
a LOT of time in the studio. All night, sometimes. Kramer was the only
one I knew anything about. All these other people come out of the woodwork
saying "oh yeah, I knew Jimi, I was best friends with Jimi, through thick
and thin" and all that.

Cosmik: Sure are a lot of people who say that now, too.

Al: Oh yeah.

Cosmik: You'll always run into that, I think.

Al: OH yeah! [Laughs] I still run into it.

Cosmik: All the vinyl sounds incredible, at least to my ears. Have you
had a chance to really sit back and listen to it all?

Al: Yeah, I'm sittin' back just like the public, waitin' for it all to come
out. Of course, I get a preview. [Laughs]

Cosmik: [Laughs] Perks of the job! Have you listened to some of the stuff
in the vaults?

Al: Oh, well I know there's a lot of material there, but I haven't had a
chance to listen to all of it. So much stuff there.

Cosmik: Was there a lot of music you'd never heard before?

Al: Oh yeah. Yeah, I'm just as excited as the public is.

Cosmik: Aside from busy schedules and hectic days, how has all of this
changed your life?

Al: Well, I don't have as much free time as I had before. I'm more involved.
Before, people would just call me up and tell me about this and that, or
about new records coming out, or send me a T-Shirt. I wasn't involved at
all. And now, I mean, I'm right in there because the family's handling it.
I see and know what's happening now. I didn't know WHAT was happening

Cosmik: I understand the old regime didn't even send releases to you, and
that you'd have to go out and buy them.

Al: Well, I didn't go out and buy any, but some of my friends had to buy them.
And they'd say "Al, you got that new record yet," and I'd say "No, I didn't
even know it was out!" [Laughs] So I'd have to call them people up and
wake 'em up! That happened several times.

Cosmik: They didn't have you in the loop at all. Do you have any contact with
those people now? Are they still trying to get their feet back in the door?

Al: Well... naw, I mean, I don't keep in touch with them in any way, shape or
form. [Laughs] No comment there.

Cosmik: Hands are washed, huh?

Al: Yeah. [Laughs] It's a bad past, you know.

Cosmik: What are your hopes for Experience Hendrix? What would you like to
see it accomplish?

Al: To get out all material that we can of Jimi's in its original form and
put it out the way Jimi would have put it out. That's what it was all
about. That's what he was writing it about. Don't dress it up in any
kind of different way than Jimi would of had it.

Cosmik: You feel you have the right people in place for that, correct? Eddie
Kramer and George Marino...

Al: Oh yeah, I feel confident with them. Like I was saying, Jimi used to work
with Kramer. Kramer's the only one I ever heard Jimi mention. They were
real good close friends.

Cosmik: What would you like people to know about Jimi?

Al: Well, he was just doin' his thing.

Cosmik: Are there any rumors that you would like to clear up, or things that
people don't know...

Al: Well, he was going into another phase of music, as he told me the last
time he was home. He didn't tell me exactly what it was going to be...

Cosmik: Do you think he might have been heading farther into the blues?

Al: Well, I remember he was talking about that trumpet player, Miles Davis.
They were real good friends. He might have had an idea of going into a
larger group of musicians.

Cosmik: A jazz setting?

Al: Something not too big. Not no big band, maybe somethin' larger than
what he'd been doing.

Cosmik: Did Jimi listen to a lot of jazz around the house?

Al: Oh yeah, well, Jimi liked all phases of music. Even a little country
western, you know? That's the way I am, too. I like all kinds of music.

Cosmik: When he was a kid and he was first starting to get into rock and roll,
were you into that idea? Because most parents in that era tried to
discourage that notion.

Al: Oh, no! Because I've had music around all my life. Any kind. Jazz...
I listened to music on the Gramophone a long time ago when I was a kid.
We had all kinds of music on there: longhair, western, blues...

Cosmik: Oh, yeah, you gotta figure he had a lot of good blues around him
when he was growing up.

Al: Yeah. I used to buy blues records, jazz records... different types.

Cosmik: And Jimi took to it all.

Al: Yeah, he did. We liked all phases and all races of music. We liked
oriental music, and East Indian, like Ravi Shankar. I liked that, and
Jimi did too. It's something else.

Cosmik: What's your very favorite Jimi Hendrix music?

Al: People always ask me that. [Laughs] Oh, whatever mood strikes me, that's
what I play, whether it's "Red House" or "Foxy Lady," or whatever. I liked
it all equally. I roll it all in one big bundle and play it.

Cosmik: Anything else you'd like to say to Jimi's fans before we close this

Al: Just tell 'em to hang in there, because we got some goodies coming out.


Janie Leads Experience Hendrix Forward

Now that we've talked to the head of the Hendrix family and Jimi's father,
Al Hendrix, it's time to pay a visit to the head of family business. Janie
Hendrix-Wright (Al's daughter and Jimi's half-sister) has taken the wheel,
and with it much of the responsibility for the future of Experience Hendrix.
Along with that task comes responsibility for Jimi's legacy and his good name.
Janie knows this, accepts it, and truth be known, wouldn't have it any other
way. That was, after all, at least part of the motivation behind the lengthy
litigation between the family and "the old administration," the conclusion
of which left the Hendrix family in control of Jimi's music, image and

With this responsibility Janie has also had to take abuse from some of Jimi's
fans, the severity of which ranges from mild distrust to threat of bodily harm.
Every business decision is scrutinized, every personal statement dissected.
She expects it. Goes with the territory. As she says, "saint today, sinner

Janie was quite willing to give answers to all my questions except for those
regarding the most tricky legal issues or trade secrets. Like her father,
her voice dances when she talks about Jimi. While some critics say she never
even met him, interviews with the guitar legend prove otherwise. She was
special to Jimi, and Jimi remains very special to her, as you'll see.

This early in the game, it's difficult to assess every decision accurately,
but one thing seems plain: Janie believes what she is doing is what's best
for Jimi's legacy. Only time will tell.

* * *

Cosmik: Now that things are popping, how do you feel it's going? Do you
ever think "what have I gotten myself into?"

Janie: [Laughs] Well, no, because when I was six years old I made a promise
to Jimi to take care of him, because I used to think that his managers
weren't doing a very good job as far as making sure that he ate in a
timely manner. He was the artist and he was performing, and I felt that
they could have taken better care of him. So in a sense, I got my wish.
I'm taking care of him, it's just that he's not physically here.

Cosmik: Do you think they made any attempt at all to take care of him?

Janie: I think that it was a good thing he was an adult so he could take
care of himself. I think that Chas Chandler was good for Jimi, but
some of his other managers didn't really look after his best interests.
And that was evident when he was in Toronto and they hired someone to
plant drugs on him before he went through customs, and also when he was
on the Monterey Pop stage and they hired someone to put some acid in his
drink. I think that's all evidence to show that they weren't looking
out for his best interests.

Cosmik: Because drug busts were in vogue at the time?

Janie: Yeah.

Cosmik: What were you doing before this?

Janie: Well, for three years I assisted the attorneys in gathering the
information for the litigation. We fought very hard to get the rights
back. Prior to that, besides having four boys and raising them, I was
also a school teacher, and I went back to school.

Cosmik: Did it prepare you for all of this?

Janie: I think teaching, in a sense... that all goes hand in hand. When you
run any company, it's almost like you're a parent to your employees, making
sure that things get done. As far as being a teacher, I always say I left
the classroom, but I teach people about Jimi. I teach them about what he
was trying to teach the world about civil rights and human rights. And
things he was trying to teach in the 60s are still very evident and
apparent today. Even though we don't have the Vietnam war, we still have
gang wars and wars in our own back yard. And there's still racism. It's
just an underlying factor that...

Cosmik: It's gone underground...

Janie: Yeah. So it's just basically educating people, in that sense.

Cosmik: There have been shots fired from both sides, of course, but for those
who don't know, how about running down some of the family's main complaints
with the way the old administration handled things?

Janie: I have to tell you, it was quite embarrassing for the family to never
receive product. Alan's [Douglas] response was always "Oh, well, if you
WANTED that CD, you should have called and asked us."

Cosmik: What, like they didn't think you would?

Janie: Like "We would have sent it to you." But a lot of times, we wouldn't
even know it was coming out until it was already out for a week or two, or
a fan would call and say "Oh, have you heard the new album," such and such,
that we would have to go out and buy. Merchandise like T-Shirts, posters
and things, we had to purchase all those things. They were not given to
us, they weren't sent to us, we weren't part of a mailing list like a lot
of people are. We don't feel bitter about it, which is good because we
aren't looking totally at the past and not being appreciative of the
present and the future. Part of that is my father's teachings, along with
my grandparents teachings, of treating people the way you want to be
treated. And not looking back, but looking forward. My dad's 77 years
old, and 20 years ago, when he was in his 50s, and I think that it would
have been wonderful to have allowed him to see how much the world loved
Jimi. And he really didn't see that until a few years ago when we
reattained the rights, and we had a festival here in Seattle, and it was
the 25th anniversary [of Jimi's death], and the festival here included
Noel and Mitch and Buddy and Billy and some other people who played with
Jimi, like Eric Burdon... and I think it was at that point that he really
realized the magnitude. It's really unfortunate that he was, in a sense,
robbed of 20 years of not being able to see those things. I don't know
if he really looks at it that way. It's nice that he gets to see, now,
what's happening. He comes into our office at least once or twice a
week, and he's really happy that we're based in Seattle. You know, he
comes in, he eats lunch and hangs out with us, he comes to the board
meetings and he helps us make decisions on things, too. He's very
valuable to us.

Cosmik: He told me he's doing a lot of interviews. Do you think he's
enjoying that?

Janie: I think that he is. He enjoys talking about Jimi and reminiscing.
He just recently completed his book called "My Son Jimi," which Jas
Obrecht, who's editor in chief of Guitar Player Magazine, helped him

Cosmik: Is that out yet?

Janie: Not yet. Right now, we're shopping for a publisher for that. But
it was really nice to be able to experience that with him. It was very
emotional, like when he talked about what he was doing or how he felt
when Jimi died, because he went through the process of his upbringing,
my grandparents' vaudeville days, and the way he was raised. And
then his whole effort of... you know, when he was in the service, by
the time he got out, Jimi was three years old and he went to get Jimi
because Lucille wasn't raising Jimi. She was kinda doing her own thing.
She was young, like late teen, early 20s. He went to go get his son.
And he raised Jimi as a single father, which was really a rarity back
then. And it still is. So he went through the whole process of, you
know... the struggle of trying to make sure ends met and bills were
paid, and Jimi would help the cause by going to work with him in the
summer as a landscape gardener, which was my father's business, after
[years of] taking any job possible. He always laughs nowadays when
people say "I have a job for you" and people say "well, what is it?"
He says "In MY day, when people said they had a job for you, you didn't
ask 'what is it' or 'how much do I get paid,' because you just knew you
got money at the end of the day and you could pay your bills." So it
was nice to reminisce through all that. And then when we got to the
part about how did he feel when Jimi died," I mean, it was very emotional.
Some of those feelings you really suppress. I know for the first five
years after Jimi passed away, it was very very difficult for me to talk
about it without bursting into tears. Time heals, but there's still
times that we get that emotion. You know, the world looked at Jimi as
the greatest guitarist ever, or like one of the best guitarists... but
the family... we lost a very close family member who we miss dearly.

Cosmik: You know, there's so much misinformation out there... I've seen many
printed statements from people that say you never even knew Jimi.

Janie: It's really sad. I wish some things had happened differently. When
Jimi was here last, he was going to do Rainbow Bridge, and he said to me...
Well, you know, he was always really excited to see me, and there are
interviews in Europe where he talks about me and how he can't wait to get
back to see me, and how he has pictures of me, you know "you wanna see
the pictures?" [Laughs] And when he died, he had 12 pictures on him, and
9 of them were of me. I mean, no, I didn't get a chance to be raised in
the same household because he was so much older than I was, but every time
he came back he stayed in our house. He played Monopoly with us, and he
sat and talked for hours, until like early in the morning. And so, to me,
it's like... you cling to those times, because you may see somebody every
day and not know them. We cherished the moments the we got to spend with
Jimi, because we knew that he'd be going out of town again. But what a
lot of people don't realize is that Jimi phoned all the time. Wherever
he was, if he was in England, if he was in New York, if he was in the
studio, wherever he was he'd say "this is where I am, if you guys need
anything, call me." He always kept in touch. And that's a big
misconception, like "Oh, Jimi just came back a few times and that's all
you knew him." I mean, we talked to him all the time.

Cosmik: So he was the big brother in your life...

Janie: Absolutely. And the last time that he was here, he said to me
[whispering] "Don't you want to go to Hawaii with me?" Which sounded
like fun, because he'd brought me back a lai and I'd kept it in the
refrigerator until it was just crumbs. And I said "yeah, I'd love to
go." Well, his manager, Michael Jeffrey, said "No no no, the family
will just get in the way." And Jimi was really upset because he wanted
us to be there. He wanted family around him. He even asked my dad if
he wanted to be his road manager at one time, because he just wanted
that family...

Cosmik: Connection...

Janie: Yeah. That feeling, that love, to know somebody is watching your
back that has you covered.

Cosmik: Somebody who doesn't have ulterior motives.

Janie: Yeah, right! And I remember the last time that he was here was July
26th, 1970, and he even said to my dad "You know, it's summer break, so
let me take Janie with me because I'm going to all these places that I'd
love to take her. I was really a daddy's girl anyway, and my dad went
"How long??" [Laughs] "I don't think so." I couldn't even go to a friend's
house for a weekend without him pacing the floor by Sunday going "Uh, you
want me to come get her now?" [Laughs]

Cosmik: Sounds like a great dad.

Janie: My upbringing was the same as Jimi's. All the morals and the
teachings that were put into Jimi, my dad put into me. And I think
that's why right prevailed and we got our rights back, because that's
the way my father has lived his life: actions speak louder than words.
You can tell kids all you want, but... One of the things he taught us
was that trust is something that you never want to break, because it
takes a long time and maybe never will you ever trust that person again
if they break trust. You treat people the way you want to be treated.
If you know that that hurts when you hit somebody, you don't want to hit
somebody. But if you're PROTECTING yourself... It's like there's two
folds to that, because back in the day, we got threatened for everything.
He said "if somebody hits you, don't just stand there. Unless they're
WAY bigger than you. Then RUN!" [Laughs]

Cosmik: [Laughs] Now see, that's good advice!

Janie: But he always said if you treat people with kindness, it'll come back
to you. Anyone who has come to our house will tell you. Growing up, I
remember people would come from all over, hitchhiking from Miami or
wherever, and they'd say "I'm a big fan of Jimi's, can I come in." I
mean, it's fortunate that no psychos came in! [Laughs] Because my father
would invite them in the house, and they'd have coffee or tea or eat
dinner with us, and he would just sit and talk and reminisce. I never
thought anything was weird about it until I was dating my husband.
Somebody came over, and he said "Don't you find it strange?" And I said
"No..." He said "They could be mass murderers or something," and I said
"But they're Jimi fans, I mean, they're okay." And he says "No...Janie,
wake up! It's the 80s!" [Laughs]

Cosmik: Well, you know, Charles Manson was a Beatles fan. [Laughs]

Janie: [Laughs] Right! And only on one occasion did anyone come back and
break into our home. They stole some gold albums that had been in Jimi's
apartment and were hanging on our wall. They stole some other stuff, too.
He'd just bought some jeans, he had a video camera, a VCR... just various
things he had around the house.

Cosmik: It's possible it wasn't a fan, but just a random robbery. Those gold
records on the wall would catch their eyes and look valuable.

Janie: Well, we kind of have an idea of who it was.

Cosmik: Something you can't say?

Janie: Nooooo, I can't say.

Cosmik: That's okay, I couldn't print it anyway. [Laughs]

Janie: They know that we know, and that's the important part.

Cosmik: So they have to keep it buried in a closet somewhere.

Janie: And then they've had to live with it, too, and to me, that would
be even worse. I don't think that they could sleep too well at night.

Cosmik: I want to talk a bit about the game plan for Experience Hendrix.
When the legal battle was nearly over, did the family sit down together
and work out an actual strategy so you would have something to go on,
going into this venture?

Janie: We had sat down with John McDermott, who had really helped us during
the litigation, and we figured out a wonderful ten-year plan, which we
are still operating by. And we had also won the name, image and license
back early, so we were able to start doing merchandising during the
litigation, which kind of gets you into the groove of what's going on out
there and meeting people. It was a step-by-step process taking us through.
We had really good advisors around us to help us through.

Cosmik: What were the key elements and goals, besides the obvious business
goal of bringing in money?

Janie: Well, you know it's really interesting that you say that, because for
us, it really wasn't about the money. I know that sounds strange to people,
but we were offered a ton of money to just sell. And it would have been
very easy for us to say "you're gonna give me that much money and I don't
have to worry about this? Okay, here!" [Laughs] But it wasn't about money.
I'm not saying money's bad, or it's not good, because money's good. It's
a tool that helps you get through day to day life, but it wasn't looked
upon as "hmmmm, how much money can we get?" It was looked upon as... we
want to get the music as close as we can to what Jimi wanted it to be.
And we can go one step further because when Jimi was alive, the technology
was available as it is today. We wanted to retrieve the flat masters,
which we did, for the foundation of doing Electric Ladyland, Axis, and all
that. And then we also wanted to fulfill Jimi's wish for First Rays,
because that was the name of the album that he wanted, and although the old
administration divided everything up and did Cry Of Love and all those
different albums, that's not what Jimi wanted. And it was the same thing
with the European Electric Ladyland. He did not want that cover with the
naked ladies on it. I remember him even calling the house saying [in an
embarrassed voice] "You... haven't seen that cover, have you?" In fact,
if you see the documentary "The Making Of Electric Ladyland," the
photographer is interviewed in there, saying "it was kind of a last minute
decision where we said okay, we have all these women in the room... we'll
give you five pounds each to take your clothes off," and they dropped their

Cosmik: I love that video, by the way. Being a musician, I love any chance
to see and hear the nuts and bolts of a recording like that. [Ed.note:
"The Making Of Electric Ladyland" includes lots of footage of Jimi's
engineer, Eddie Kramer, raising and lowering the volume of various tracks
so you can hear individual parts and sounds.] What else is in the video
AND audio vaults right now?

Janie: Our next plan is to give the fans a never-before heard product. Never
heard on bootleg, never heard anywhere.

Cosmik: That's hard, because the bootlegs are everywhere.

Janie: They are, but we've managed to find at least two albums worth of stuff
that has not been out in any way, shape of form.

Cosmik: When you go through the vaults, are you watching out for the
sub-standard work? Because he did have his bad days...

Janie: Yeah, but these aren't. [Laughs]

Cosmik: Okay, so these are hot stuff. Can you say what they are?

Janie: Uuuuum, no. [Laughs]

Cosmik: [Laughs] Aw, YOU'RE no fun!

Janie: I can only tell you that part. And then, of course, we've uncovered
video that you've never seen before, too.

Cosmik: I've seen lists of what people SUSPECT exists. I also saw a list
of what's already in your possession, and I was quite surprised at how
much you do already have. Who decides what's good enough to go and what

Janie: We do. Our team. There's me, and there's John and there's Eddie.
We all sit down and listen and figure it out. Mainly John and I. Actually,
we're getting ready to go to New York this month to actually go back in
and start listening to things to create another project. To just basically
show the integrity of our family, I mean, before we even had an MCA contract
in hand, we made sure that the albums were ready to be released in a timely

Cosmik: That's gotta be a major job. I'm curious, also, about a particular
type of recording. It's well known that he used to carry tape recorders
with him to record his jam sessions, which involved some of the greatest
players of the day.

Janie: Yeah, you're absolutely right, because he DID do a lot of things on
cassette tape in his hotel rooms. But even better, he had his own studio.
Which... what a foresight for a musician, to have your own studio back in
the day. And he was one of the only two... I think the other was Nat King
Cole. So we have two musicians who had their own studios where they could
just go hit play and record and record for like 15 hours at a time without
paying that huge studio price that they try to put on you.

Cosmik: There's no pressure.

Janie: And everybody's just jamming and playing. The interesting thing that
I found, and it's kind of a side of Jimi that people don't see because...
I know I've been accused in the media, or at least on the Internet, of
trying to change Jimi's image. It's not so much changing it, but it's
educating people about how he really was, and not what the old
administration tried to make him appear to be, because he wasn't this
angry madman. But he would go into the studio and he would play with the
guys, and he was so far ahead in the music, that a lot of times they
didn't grasp what he wanted. So instead of getting angry... and believe
me, we've listened to at least six weeks worth of studio tape, he never
got angry or started screaming or yelling at people. He wanted people
to catch what he was doing, but if they couldn't get it, he'd spin off
into this huge solo. And that's how he'd relieve his anger and frustration.
Then he would go back into the same beat they left off in, and they'd
pick it back up. To me, that's an amazing genius and creator of music
who was in total control. And you knew he was in control when he was in
the studio. He was confident and he knew that this is what he was meant
to do.

Cosmik: Listening to those tapes and the conversations between takes, and
hearing him talking as if he was in the room... what was that like for you?

Janie: Very emotional. A lot of things he said made you laugh, though. Jimi
had a wonderful sense of humor that people really don't know about, and
that's why, in the liner notes and the booklets that we put out, we really
wanted to capture those pictures of him smiling and laughing. Because
that's the Jimi that WE know. That's the Jimi that WE got to see. He
would say things in the studio that nobody would get. One of the things
he said that was so funny, and nobody got this in the studio, and nobody
got this when we were listening to it but me, only because my Dad used to
talk about this woman named Mama Hankins. She used to help take care of
Jimi. Again, all the false information about my dad bouncing Jimi around
when he was working, well it's like when YOU go to work, where are YOUR
kids? At day care, at grandma's house, at auntie so and so's house.
Somebody's helping you take care of those kids so you can work. Basically,
Mama Hankins used to help take care of Jimi. So he was laughing and
joking in the studio, and he says "Well that's a Mama Hankins. Imamamama
Hankins! Right Devon?" And Devon starts laughing, and I don't know, maybe
Jimi had told her about Mama Hankins... Jimi's whole sense of humor was
like "I know something that you may not know what I'm talking about," and
if you figure it out, you're in on the joke. And if you didn't, well, then
the jokes kinda on you. He'd always do stuff, like at the dinner table
he'd make all these faces, or like take somebody's bread off their plate.
Then they're looking around like "Hey! Who did that!" And if you happened
to see him, then you were laughing because he was so comical about it.
That side of Jimi really comes through on those studio tapes.

Cosmik: So here you are in possession of all of that, your first salvo of
releases have hit the market... How would you rate the overall performance
of Experience Hendrix so far, based on the goals you set?

Janie: I think we've surpassed every goal that we've put before us. We
created a magazine, and we kept telling everybody that we wanted this
to be a magazine with glossy pages and four-color photos, but people
we originally brought on board didn't really see the vision. They kept
thinking newsletter, they kept thinking small. And now we have this
magazine that started out with 10,000 copies, which we made the first
time around, and now we have a distribution of 50,000. And that was
only within a couple months. We spoke with Elvis Presley's estate, and
what we accomplished in a couple months took them five years. We, through
I guess a lot of God-given instinct, have stayed away from people who
wanted to entrap... like there are licensees out there that really wanted
to give us like a million dollars. "We'll do your licensing" and all
this, but when you read the fine print, it's like "We get 30% of all your
licensees from now until..." you know? I know some estates that weren't
so fortunate. They signed on the dotted line and they're stuck.

Cosmik: What's the power structure now? How much control does MCA have, how
much does Experience Hendrix have, etc?

Janie: We have total control. The other false thing, if you want to clear
up rumors, is that we didn't sign a 90 million dollar deal. We don't
have 90 million dollars sitting in our coffers. We negotiated a deal
where... Well, basically, just to let people know, when you get an advance
on a record deal, it's basically a loan and you've got to repay that
through your record sales. We chose NOT to take a large advance so that
we could have control. We still own one hundred percent of the music,
we have our in-house publishing for domestic, we have our in-house
attorney... We use people here in our office to do a lot of it, and that
saves money because you're not having to pay huge percentages off your

Cosmik: So does that make MCA, basically, one of your vendors?

Janie: MCA, basically, is our distributor. They make sure that it's marketed
and distributed, but we are right in there with them in the meetings for
the marketing. For example, last week or two weeks ago, we met with them
to discuss what our next release was. Although we have a ten-year plan,
there's a couple things that can be flip-flopped here and there. You know,
"we can do this this year, and that next year," or whatever. And they
were wanting to come out with the Smash Hits album. And I didn't think the
fans would like that too well. We just re-did four albums. Now we're going
to re-do the Smash Hits and say "here you go?!" My plan was to, by August,
give them something they've never heard before, and then a couple months
down the line we'll give them the Smash Hits album. And yes, it'll be
better, but in addition you'll have never before heard material in your
hand. So MCA listened to us, and they said "okay, why don't we release
it in September." Well... I'm a mother of four, and in September, I don't
HAVE money for that CD for my child. I've got to buy books, I've got to
buy clothes... If they go to private school, I've got to pay for tuition.
I have to make sure all of their supplies are taken care of. I don't have
and extra 20 dollars for a CD. But in August, I do. In August my kid may
take on a job at the neighbors to go weed a lawn or something, and they
have the time to do it. So that would be a good time to release it. And
so MCA listened to everything we had to say. For the releases of the core
albums, we said we wanted the original covers. We paid for that. That
money came from us because we felt that's what Jimi wanted, that's what
he intended to have. We wanted to put out the original albums. We went
to a design company in New York and I said "This is my vision for First
Rays Of The New Rising Sun. I want Jimi in kind of a sunset, and then I
want this unusual planet off to the side that's like this other planet
that we don't know about." So there were several things that came out
of that until we got to this part that was like "no, lower this, make the
sea less," and whatever we wanted, we worked together until we could say
"Okay, MCA, this is what we want for the cover of First Rays." And they
said okay and they did it. It's like a marriage. You work together.
They have ideas, we discuss them, but it's all through our approval.
We approve everything.

Cosmik: I'm curious about the situation with bootlegs. There are hundreds
of Jimi Hendrix bootlegs out there. Is there a "family plan" for dealing
with the bootleg situation?

Janie: Yes.

Cosmik: Can you tell us what it is?

Janie: No. [Laughs]

Cosmik: [Laughs] You know, Janie, I'm sorry, but we're going to have to do
this all over again. You're just not playing along.

Janie: No, well... Probably in a couple months, I can say. We've been working
with MCA on dealing with that, making sure the fans will be able to hear
that music without being robbed. I mean, the bootlegs being sold are like
30 dollars and 40 dollars! When you can get something like First Rays,
which is professionally done, professionally EQ'd, and we've had the best
people work with us on the project, like Eddie Kramer and George Marino.
And it's selling for... I don't know what it retails for... 13, 14 dollars.
Depends on where you buy it.

Cosmik: Do you know what the vinyl's retailing for?

Janie: I had heard two different prices. The suggested retail was supposed
to be 29.95.

Cosmik: And how much for the double albums?

Janie: That IS the double albums.

Cosmik: Wow! In the 180-plus audiophile vinyl market? That's cheap.

Janie: Really, we're not out there to try to gouge the consumer. We did it
the right way. We could have used half that weight of vinyl. I mean
those things are heavy! I carried the package at the airport, and we
were looking at each other and saying "Who's idea was it to do 180 vinyl!?"
My arms were falling off. [Laughs] We were able to give Jeff Gold a
set... He's the president of Warner, and he's been a wonderful friend and
cheerleader through all of this, and he said "I don't think the records
were this heavy when Jimi was alive!" [Laughs]

Cosmik: I'll tell you what, after listening to the vinyl, nobody will ever
convince me that CDs sound better than vinyl, at least when the vinyl is
done right. They sound incredible.

Janie: Oh, yeah. I had one guy call me who has been an avid collector, and
he said "I bought the vinyl instead of the CDs because I just love vinyl."

Cosmik: Vinyl has quite a fan base. And the 180-plus market is really
interesting. Do you plan to continue that?

Janie: I know we are for the Smash Hits project. We're going to do a run of
5000 for that. I'm not sure about the new releases. We're still discussing

Cosmik: How far away is Band Of Gypsys?

Janie: [Pauses] ... Europe? [Laughs]

Cosmik: [Laughs] What?

Janie: It got distributed in Europe.

Cosmik: But not here.

Janie: It will be, but... Mmmm... We're working on it.

Cosmik: Okay, we'll come back to that next time we talk, right? [Laughs]
We started to talk about the tape recorders Jimi carried around with
him to record his jam sessions on. How much of that material do you

Janie: Quite a bit.

Cosmik: Is a lot of it good enough quality to release?

Janie: Yes.

Cosmik: And will it be?

Janie: Oh yes.

Cosmik: Ah! A lot of that stuff is legendary, like the jams with Michael
Bloomfield. How do the jam tapes sound?

Janie: Some of them are so clear it's like you're sitting in the room with

Cosmik: Boy... On the subject of concert footage... what does Experience
Hendrix have in the vaults, and how much has been sifted through?

Janie: We've gone through all the video footage, and we'll be able to do at
least another documentary. And we're also working on another short film
project with footage you haven't seen. Not to mention that our goal,
which we're working on right now, is an autobiography that's done by the
family, and of course later a real movie with actors. A lot of the rumors
that you hear about Hollywood working on a project like that aren't true.
We've talked to them and they say "No, we may be THINKING about it, but we
know we can't do it without your permission."

Cosmik: Those rumors go way back. I remember a time when the rumor was that
Phil Lynott [late bassist of Thin Lizzy] was going to star as Jimi.

Janie: Oh yeah, and then of course the Lawrence Fishburn rumor. It's so
funny, because it could just take an instant when Lawrence Fishburn or
Denzel Washington casually says "Oh sure, I'd love to play in it," and
BOOM! It's out there. They're playing in it, and they're already working
on it. And it's just not true.

Cosmik: Just writers dying to get readers by spreading rumors. So what about
the legendary lost ABC footage? Any news on that?

Janie: ... We're working on it.

Cosmik: Is it still lost?

Janie: We think we've located some of it. We're in negotiations with some
people right now.

Cosmik: That's going to be interesting to follow. Is there any fear of
overfishing the pond by putting out TOO many Jimi Hendrix releases?
Right off the bat, you re-released the first three albums and First
Rays in both CD and vinyl formats, and that's a lot of product all at
once. Do you think about over-saturation and what it could mean?

Janie: It's interesting that you say that... For right now, it was about
building a good foundation and making sure that what's out there is what
we want out there, because we had to pull back in what the old
administration had put out. Then we had to replace what was out there,
in addition to making sure that our new products are made. But no, we
don't want to over-saturate the market. I think at one point the old
administration was doing that. I think it's wrong. I think it's not
right to take a few songs from this album and a few songs from that
album and make a new album, and that's not what we're about. Although
it may seem that way for First Rays, to some people. That wasn't the
intent. The intent was to give you this album as Jimi saw fit for it
to happen. In addition to the fact that "Dolly Dagger" and "Night Bird
Flying" have never been on a CD. Basically, the new album will come
out, and then Smash Hits will come out to basically replace The Ultimate
Experience, and it also gives you the album as Jimi first made it, but it
will probably include some other songs to make it larger. From that
point on, the releases will come out more as a normal artist would put
out releases. So I guess for this year people might think we're flooding
the market. For us, it isn't, it's righting a wrong.

Cosmik: I want to talk a little bit about the negative things that are being
said by some of the core fans everywhere, but especially on the Internet.
Do you follow the discussions in the newsgroups and e-mail lists?

Janie: I hear some of it. I'm aware of some of the talk that's out there.

Cosmik: Some of those people are highly critical of Experience Hendrix, and
especially of you. Why do you think they're attacking you?

Janie: I think that anybody that has control of what Jimi is doing, they're
going to attack. Originally we came out and said we want to work with
bootleggers, that we wanted them to come to us and let work with the tapes
and remaster them. Our concern was for the fans, that they're not ripped
off. But it was looked at as "Oh, you're just trying to stop these people,
and you're just jealous because they're doing this," but that's not the
spirit in which it was done. The spirit was... if you're paying fifty
dollars for that project, that's not worth that much money. You know,
people are trading blank tapes with people, and that's wrong. That's
totally wrong. We're trying to right a LOT of wrongs. You know the old
saying, and my dad used to use it a lot, "you can please some of the
people some of the time, but you can't please all of the people all of
the time." And I think that, overall, when people see what we're doing,
I think they really admire that we're sticking our necks out.

Cosmik: While the ones who are critical think you're being greedy.

Janie: They don't know our upbringing. They don't know what we went
through. For 20 years, my father received 50,000 dollars per year,
which he had to pay taxes on. He was a landscape gardener at the same
time until 1979. Growing up only being able to have two pairs of
shoes, if you wore a hole in one, you had to cut a piece of cardboard
out and put it inside the shoe. While everyone else was wearing Levi's,
and they got 'em down at Penny's for 14 dollars, we had to go down to
Goodwill and pay two dollars. Yes, life is better now, but it took a
long time to get here. When my husband and I were first married, we
lived in a 1,000 square foot house while Leo and Alan Douglas were
living lavishly. We relied on one income because it wasn't worth two
people going in to work because half of your income goes to daycare and
gas and work clothes. That's a side that people don't see. You don't
know that during that three-year litigation, my father had three heart
surgeries. You don't know that we almost lost him. You don't know
that two weeks before everything was said and done, we almost lost him.
You don't know the pains that we feel. And people say "do you know
what they're saying about you?" I say "Yeah, but do I care?" Do they
know that days went by when Jimi only had a candy bar to eat? He created
all this wonderful music, and that's all you know him by, but you don't
know the struggles it took for him to get there. And it's the same for
our family. I just wish that people would know that we're going to try
to do the right thing, and yes, we're only human, and we may not always
please you because that album is missing ten of your favorite songs.
You're complaining, yet we have George Marino, we have Eddie Kramer...
Eddie Kramer, who's very valuable, is in there working with us. He
doesn't just work with anybody. He knows that we're doing the right
thing, and he wants to make sure it STAYS the right thing.

Cosmik: People are unsettled by change.

Janie: Well sure, but when Alan Douglas was in control, they were complaining
then! But then we take over, and... It's so funny because when the
releases came out, somebody called and said "Oh, you're an angel on the
Internet now," and I said "Yeah, I'm a saint today and I'm a sinner tomorrow.
And that's the way you've got to take it or you could go crazy. You know
the old saying is "sticks and stones can break my bones but words will
never hurt me." Yeah, but they hurt you. They can sting. But you just
learn to get tough skin. It's all that they want to be where we are, and
a lot of them, in a sense, feel justified, and... you know, "I ran a fanzine
for this long, so I deserve this and that." I mean, we've had people say
that to us. It's like "Yeah, we have pictures, and we have this fanzine,
so just tell me what you need and what you want it for and maybe we'll let
you use it." [Laughs]

Cosmik: Are you surprised by the severity and hostility of some of this?

Janie: Yeah. I had one guy call and complain about something... I don't
remember what it was now... but what really angered me was that I have
four children, my oldest is ten, and they printed my home address,
threatened to burn flags and throw grenades...

Cosmik: These are people from the Internet e-mail lists?

Janie: Yeah. They said very hurtful things, like "Janie's just waiting around
for her dad to die so that she can collect." And that's something that was
very hurtful to me, because they don't know that my dad is my best friend.
If I don't talk to my dad every other day, he's calling me to find out if
everything's okay. When he read that, he got so angry. I said "How stupid.
I would be the most miserable person on Earth if all I was doing was waiting
for somebody to die. The reason we went to litigation in the first place
was because I received documents from Leo Branton asking me... these
documents were supposedly written by my dad, which I knew they weren't...
and I was being asked to sign over all my rights to my father. And the
letter was very adversarial, and I thought this isn't like my dad. My
dad and I went bike riding together and swimming together, we'd go jogging
together... we do everything together. It was like "Dad, do you know what
this says?" He says "Yeah, it says you get some money now and I get to
watch you enjoy it, and I get some money, and you don't have to suffer a
lot." I said "No, dad, that's not what it says," and I explained it to
him. He was furious. "That's not what I want!" So I went and got some
attorneys, and Leo called my dad a week later and said "Why hasn't Janie
signed the papers yet? I have her money sitting right here." My dad
said "For Janie, it's not about the money. While everybody else sees a
block down the road, she sees miles. If you want to know why she didn't
sign, call her and ask her." A few weeks later, he was served and we were
suing him.

Cosmik: And that was the end of his road with Jimi.

Janie: Yep.

Cosmik: I'd like to shift a little bit here to talk about the releases
themselves, about a few problems that have been noticed. The lyrics in
the booklets are incorrect in several instances. How did that happen?

Janie: That happened in Europe, and it was MCA's fault, not our fault. When
we looked at the original draft, which is how it should have gone out,
it was approved and correct, but something happened at the printers. MCA
has admitted to the fault. It was their international department that
created the fault.

Cosmik: Is there anything that can be done about it now?

Janie: Yeah. What they've offered to people is that they're printing up new
booklets, and they can come and exchange the incorrect booklets for corrected

Cosmik: The other major rumble I've heard, or complaints against the family,
come from people who feel that Mitch Mitchell and Noel Redding should be
cut in for a share of the money from Experience Hendrix, that they were
screwed over by the old administration and it should be righted. What's
your side of that?

Janie: Well, all of that issue is between Noel, Mitch, Buddy, Billy and us.
On July 26th, 1995, we sat down with them. We explained to them that this
case cost us multimillion dollars, not to mention that my father had to
second-mortgage his home and we had to take out loans because when the
accounts closed--for the quote/unquote "Hendrix Trust Account,"--there was
less one million dollars in that account. Our former attorney had given
us the impression that all of the royalties, outside of the money being
used to keep the business alive, were being put into our trust accounts
for our education, family welfare, and because we received money for
various things along the way. We didn't have any reason to believe that
they weren't there. When all was said and done and we were starting the
litigation, they closed down three accounts, there's less than one million
dollars left in it. Unfortunately, while we were in the litigation, the
defendants were receiving OUR royalty checks, which helped fund them
against us, which cost us even more money because I think that if they
hadn't received that money they would have folded a long time ago. But
they kept it going until the end. We explained all that to Mitch and
Noel, and Buddy and Billy, and they all understand where we are financially
and how long it's going to take us to get out of debt. The money that comes
in, a portion of it, yes, runs the business, but a great portion of it goes
to pay off our debt. And they understand that, and we have an agreement
with them, which I'm not at liberty to discuss, but they know what it is.

Cosmik: So they will be receiving future compensation?

Janie: Well, they do know what the deal is and I can't discuss it. And Noel
knows it. I don't know why things are being said, but this was discussed
virtually the day after we won the case, about how things are going to be
set up. And they know what it is, which is why you don't hear from Buddy
and Billy and Mitch.

Cosmik: And why they participate in the videos...

Janie: Exactly. They participated in the documentary, in the festival, in
our festival that will happen later on this year... Yes, they participate,
because they know we have an understanding. And I don't think I owe that
explanation to anybody else. It's our business between us. I know what
Noel is saying, and it's unfortunate because he was in that room. We were
all in there together, and we discussed every option possible until like
two or three in the morning, and made sure that when they came for our
festival they were very well taken care of. Which we paid for, because we
didn't have a record deal at the time and we had no money coming in. So
we've been good for our word. Whatever we say, that's what we're going to
do. That's what we do.

Cosmik: I understand that during an interview the other day you had a disk
jockey telling you your brother died of a drug overdose, and that when
you tried to correct him...

Janie: Oh, in Boston! Yeah.

Cosmik: And he got...

Janie: Belligerent? [Laughs]

Cosmik: Yeah! [Laughs] Do you run into that a lot?

Janie: Yeah, and actually, it was kind of interesting... I had a couple
friends call me about that, and they were like "I can't believe he
was sitting there arguing with you about that. Like just because
somebody drank one night, and they got in a car wreck, they died of
alcohol intake? No, they died because they crashed the car!" [Laughs]
And I said "Yeah, but you know what? I wasn't saying it for him, because
deejay's are gonna think whatever they want, and for them it's kind of
like sensationalism, and they try to trap you." I even had one say to
me "Oh, I hear you're going to market a belt buckle shaped like a
Stratocaster that flashes." I said "Nooo, that's not in MY catalog."
For me, the issue about Jimi dying... it's always been very painful for
our family when somebody talks about him dying at 27 of a drug overdose.
It's like not only can you not give this man the honor that's due to
him... Not only was he the greatest guitarist ever, he was the first
African American to lead an all-white band. He was the first African
American to cross all the lines: whether it's by sex or by culture, he
crossed them. Why are you robbing him of that? Yes, he took drugs. It
was the 60s. It was a very experimental time. However, he did not die
of a drug overdose. Yes, I would say that sleeping pills are a drug that
you can buy over the counter. Not very many adults can say they've never
taken a sleeping pill. But when they re-opened the case again, though
Scotland Yard, which was about two and a half years ago when we started
the litigation, they wrote us an extensive letter. They said "We've gone
back and interviewed the doctors and nurses. Actually, we couldn't get
ahold of a couple of the nurses, so we talked to the ambulance driver,
we talked to this person, that person, Eric Burdon..." They did an
18-month inquest, and he says "I have to say that when we examined the
body, his organs were very clean. His lungs, his liver, his kidneys, they
weren't that of a frequent drug user or one that would overdo it and
destroy his body. If he had just taken the sleeping pills, he would have
been fine. If he had just drank the wine that he had earlier that night,
he would have been fine. But it was the mixture of the two chemicals that
caused him to vomit and die of asphyxiation." Now, in the 90s, we have
a warning on our medicine that says "don't take this with alcohol," but
they didn't have that then. Not to mention that it was German sleeping
pills. So my thing was not so much to convince the deejay or argue with
him, but to impress upon that teenager, that person listening out there,
that this is what really happened so maybe we can change the thinking of
future generations, so they're not so locked into "he died of a drug
overdose." So that's what that was all about. It's just about re-teaching

Cosmik: Twenty or thirty years from now, what effect do you hope Experience
Hendrix will have had on Jimi's memory and his legacy?

Janie: That's why we started a family foundation. We would like to continue
to sponsor children's groups and youth groups and school programs. I
would like to make sure that at least... This is a small number, because
I think we'll do better than this, but I'd like to touch at least two
people's lives a year, where they say "because of you guys, I was able
to..." whatever. I've
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Chapter One: Little Sister

BR: Janie, how old were you when you met Jimi for the first time?

JH: I was six years old when Jimi came home in February of 1968. He’d gotten out of the service in 1962 and had decided not to come back here to Seattle at that point. He told my dad there was no way for him to make it as a musician unless he went to Nashville – or maybe New York. There just weren’t any opportunities for him musically here at home.
Al, my dad, told Jimi, “I completely understand – do your thing.” When you’re 20 years old and trying to find your way, there were no better places to be than where he was heading. It was completely understood why he wanted to stay out on the road and didn’t come home at that point. Jimi went to Tennessee first and ended up playing on the ‘Chitlin’ Circuit.” That was where he made his early connections.

BR: The first disc of the West Coast Seattle Boy collection contains some great tracks from Jimi’s early days as a sideman.

JH: You know, a lot people don’t get it … they’ll listen to music from that period and say, “That’s not Jimi” – but it is. It’s Jimi trying to figure things out and realizing that he doesn’t want to be a sideman his whole life. It was a way to eat, to gain notoriety, to gain stage experience, and to figure out what it’s like to be on the road … that whole way of life. And it all comes out in the music.

BR: It’s cool, because even in those settings, there’ll be a moment – an intro, a turnaround, or a little guitar break – and you can definitely hear it: “That’s Jimi!”

JH: Oh, yeah. (laughs) He’d be using his arm or his thumb or whatever he could to get those different sounds – a lot of the same techniques he’d use later in the Experience.

BR: During the years before he came home, did you have a sense that this big brother you had yet to meet was becoming famous?

JH: I remember reading things in the papers about Jimi and cutting them out to save. When he’d call home, I’d be so excited to hear his voice, you know? I’d tell him about collecting all that stuff. In fact, in one of the interviews Jimi did when he was in England, he mentioned, “I can’t wait to get home to meet my little sister; she’s following my career and cutting out all these articles.” (laughs)
Jimi would call home as much as he could to talk with all of us and let us know what was going on. We were hearing from him regularly, so we were able to follow his career. He would always send postcards, letters, and photos when he wasn’t calling.

BR: Now that’s a good son. (laughter) And we need to remember: there were no cell phones; there was no texting or e-mails. You had to go out and find a stamp.

JH: Exactly! And back then, a stamp and a candy bar probably cost about the same so it was like, “Hmm … a stamp or a candy bar for dinner?”, you know?

BR: Do you remember any of Jimi’s calls in particular?

JH: Oh, yeah. (laughs) He called us when he was competing in the talent show at the Apollo Theater in New York in 1964. Jimi didn’t want anyone to know how scared he was; he was actually scared that they’d be throwing stuff at him. And as a little girl, I didn’t know anything about the Apollo Theater, but I’m thinking, “Oh, no – what are they going to throw at you?” You know, I’m thinking chairs or whatever – big heavy things. And Jimi was like, “No – they throw food at you. I don’t want them throwing anything at me.” He was serious.
I told him, “Well, I’m going to pray that they don’t throw anything at you, Jimi.”

BR: Oh, man. And he won that night, right?

JH: That’s right; and when he called afterwards, he was happy that he’d won – but even happier that no one had thrown anything. (laughter) Jimi started playing with the Isley Brothers soon after that.
I remember he called from London when the Experience was coming together: “I’m onto the big time! This is it – I’m going to make it.”

BR: So you had a sense – long before you actually got to see Jimi face-to-face – that other people knew who your big brother was.

JH: Absolutely. The clincher, of course, was seeing him on TV. When you’re a kid … (laughs)

BR: Oh, that seals the deal, for sure. How about hearing his music – do you remember hearing the Experience for the first time?

JH: Oh, yeah. (laughs) We were living in a triplex at the time – pretty thin walls, you know? There were two young women who lived next door – we called them “the hippie girls.” (laughs) I remember hearing them come home and apparently they’d just come from the local record store, because suddenly there’s this really loud music coming through the wall. And my dad says, “Oh my God – that sounds so much like Jimi!”

BR: Come on – through the wall? (laughter)

JH: Honest to God – through the wall. So my mom goes next door and knocks: “I’m sorry to bother you, but what is that music you’re listening to? We think it’s our son.” And one of the girls holds up the record jacket, and sure enough – it’s the Jimi Hendrix Experience. When they figured out who we all were, they handed it to my mom: “Here – you take this record! It’d be our honor for you to have it; we can go get another one.”

BR: There – right there! The true hippie ethic summed up! (laughter) That is such a cool story.

JH: Isn’t it? Those sweet hippie girls … (laughs)

BR: So, when Jimi came home to visit, I’m guessing it was either one thing or the other: either you have a ton of memories of him sitting around the house, guitar in hand, and playing constantly – or he’d try to get away from that for a bit.

JH: When he’d come home to Seattle, he’d drop off his gear at a hotel and if he was playing in the area, there’d be guitars there, of course. But he’d gather up a few things and come to stay with us rather than at a hotel. You know: family, home cooking, and a nice bed – and he didn’t bring his guitar home.
Most people who think they knew Jimi really well don’t believe that. They always say, “Jimi didn’t go anywhere without his guitar.” But when he came to stay with us, it was like every minute was precious. We’d sit around and talk – sometimes for hours – not just about what he had going on, but what everyone else was doing, too … he wanted to know.
I remember us sitting around and playing games, too. Jimi loved playing Monopoly, with all the constant talking and kidding around that goes with it: “You come on this side of the board and you’re gonna get it.” (laughs) Sometimes those games would go all night long – until 7 or 8 the next morning. When he came home, he’d try to spend as many moments as he could with everyone. He didn’t want to go to sleep; he wanted to stay awake and spend every minute he could with the family until it was time to leave again.

BR: Ah – that’s great; it really is. Did you get to see him play much live? Do you remember any of the times you saw him perform?

JH: I got to see 5 concerts. He came to Seattle four times and then one other time we drove up to Canada. You know, thinking about it now and looking at his schedule, I wonder “Why didn’t we drive down to Oregon? ? Why didn’t we go here? Why didn’t we go there? It doesn’t make any sense to me now, but it’s the way it was.
Three months before the trip up to Canada, Jimi came home and gave my parents enough money to buy a car and a truck. My dad needed a truck – he was a landscape gardener – and my Mom needed a new car, so Jimi did that.
When we went to Canada, we didn’t ride in a limo or anything – we drove up in the family car that Jimi had bought. Behind us was a station wagon with Noel and Mitch [bassist Noel Redding and drummer Mitch Mitchell] and [Hendrix managers] Michael Jeffery and Chas Chandler. In fact, on the _Voodoo Child _ DVD that’s included in the West Coast Seattle Boy box set, there are some pictures and video from that trip. There’s a little clip of the family video that Mitch took where we’re at a rest stop between Seattle and the Canadian border.

BR: And the Jimi you saw on stage was a lot different cat from the guy on the other side of the Monopoly board…

JH: (laughs) Completely different, yeah. But you know, before the first show he played at the Coliseum here in Seattle, Jimi said, “I’ve been around the world, but I’m so nervous tonight to be playing in front of my family. As much as I’ve been wanting to come home to play, I’m really, really nervous to be playing in front of you guys.”
But it didn’t take him long to let his hair down (laughs) and go into his “space mode.” Offstage, of course, he was this very quiet, shy – almost painfully shy – person who was very soft-spoken. There were really two different sides to Jimi: on-stage and off.

BR: There was no way for you all to know that the last time you saw Jimi would be the last time. Is there anything in particular you remember about his final visit home?

JH: It’s interesting you should say that. The last time Jimi was home was to play here at Sick’s Stadium. That was an outdoor stadium; the home of the Seattle Pilots at the time. I remember it was very windy that day, with a lot of rain, thunder, and lightning. My dad pulled his rain suit out – rain pants, raincoat – and he was pushing the tarp that was over the stage with a pole to dump the water out of it. I remember being so afraid that Jimi was going to get electrocuted or something.
The family was all sitting on one side of the stage. During “Purple Haze”, Jimi turned around when he sang, “that girl put a spell on me” – and pointed at me. My family was all like, “Did you see him? Did you see him?”
After that show, Jimi was really sick. He’d been traveling a lot and his immune system was just shot. The next day they were supposed to drive down to Portland, Oregon for a show the following night. Michael Jeffery came to pick up Jimi and my dad met him at the door.
Michael said, “We’re ready to roll out.” And my dad said, “Well you go ahead. Jimi will catch a plane tomorrow and join you.”
Michael was insistent that Jimi leave then: “We’re all leaving; we have soundcheck; we’re ready to roll out.”
And my dad said, “That’s right – you’re going to roll out; you’re going to go down to Portland; and Jimi will join you tomorrow. Period. He’s sick; he needs to get some rest; and he’s not leaving today.
Michael Jeffery tried to insist, but my dad stood his ground: “Jimi’s the artist – if he’s sick, the show’s not going to go on anyway. There’s no show tonight and there’s really no reason for him to be down there. He’s just going to stay here and recuperate and that’s that.”
Finally, Michael Jeffery left – and Jimi was able to stay home with us and sleep.
That was the sort of thing that shows why Jimi wanted the family to move out to New York and be on the road with him – he needed that family support.
When Jimi left that final time – that was on July 27th – he said, “Go look for a house on the water – like on Mercer Island.” My dad had a lot of gardening clients out there. Jimi said, “When I come back, I just want to take a sabbatical for like a year. I just want to have a refuge; some place to go. Find a place on the water.” And my parents started to search, as he had asked.
When we arrived at the airport for the flight to Portland, my dad and Jimi just stood there for a long while looking at each other. My dad said this many times afterwards: “Jimi started down the hallway to the plane – and he turned around and walked back to me.”
They just looked at each other. My dad said afterwards, “I had this feeling that that was going to be the last time I saw him.” And even though my dad had been having those gut feelings about losing Jimi, he’d never shared them with the rest of us. He was afraid it would be in a plane crash, like so many other musicians over the years.
It was all so tragic and unexpected. Just devastating.
So that was late July. In August, we received a weird call – a crank call – from someone saying that Jimi had died. My parents, of course, were frantic, but they were able to track Jimi down on the phone. He told them, “I don’t know what that was all about, but ignore it – I’m fine.”
When they got the call that he’d died on September 18, I’d already walked to school – I was in the 4th grade.
The teacher had heard that Jimi had died, but nobody was saying anything to me about it. My parents apparently figured I wasn’t going to find out during the day at elementary school, I guess – they were planning on talking to me about it when I got home. I understand why they were thinking that way; grief is something that most of us just don’t have the tools to deal with it – we don’t know how. So they were doing the best they could, you know?
I remember it was show and tell that morning, and some boy stood up and said, “Today Jimi Hendrix died.”

BR: Oh, Janie – just like that?

JH: I remember the teacher was trying to get him to stop, but it was too late; he blurted it out. Everyone kind of gasped and looked at me. I remember I said, “No he didn’t. That’s a rumor, just like a month ago. I don’t believe it.”
Later on that day, this girl who was in 6th grade came up to me and said, “Janie, I’m really, really sorry.” And I said, “Why? What did you do?” And, of course, she was talking about Jimi, but I told her the same thing: “That’s just a rumor – don’t believe it. People have said that before, but it’s not true.”
So after school, I’m walking home. One of my friends had invited me to a birthday party and that’s what I was thinking about: going home and asking my parents if I could go to this party, right? I simply refused to believe that anything had happened to Jimi.
I had it all figured out as I approached my street. I said to myself, “If this is true, the street is going to be full of cars. And if Jimi’s okay, there won’t be anybody.”

BR: Oh, man…

JH: Oh, yeah. I had my eyes closed as I walked up the hill towards home, thinking, “Let there be no cars … let there be no cars.” But as soon as I turned the corner, I could see: the whole street was full of cars.
But even then, I didn’t accept it. I said to myself, “They all believe it; it’s another rumor and it’s not true but they all think it is.”
This was the mind of a 9-year-old, you know? I said, “Everything’s okay. Jimi’s okay. I’m just going to walk into the house and ask if I can go to the birthday party.”
I walk in the house and my mom comes running to meet me. Everybody’s there: my siblings and my aunts and uncles and cousins – the house was full of people. And I just looked at my mom and blurted out, “Can I go to Ann’s birthday party?” Just as if there wasn’t anybody there, you know?
My mom started to speak, and that’s when my dad came out of nowhere and picked me up. We went in his room and sat on the bed. He was having a hard time getting the words out; he just held me for a while. Finally he said, “Jimi died today. Jimi has died and our lives will never be the same.”
And they weren’t.

Chapter Two: Aftermath; Taking Care of Business

BR: We’re here today to talk about Jimi and the new projects that are happening, of course. But it’s hard to get from 1970 to 2010 without some acknowledgment of what happened in between. There’s already been much written about the handling of Jimi’s estate through the years and I don’t feel like we have to go into great depth. Your father Al passed away in 2002, leaving you as president and CEO of the family-owned Experience Hendrix. Maybe we could talk just a little about how and why Experience Hendrix was formed.

JH: Well, Experience Hendrix is run by the family members that my father chose himself. It’s our mission – our goal – to maintain, protect and preserve Jimi’s music and his persona.
After Jimi died, the whole estate was in shambles. Jimi owed a lot of money for the Electric Lady studio; there were cars wrecked in different states; there was so much to get in order and my dad just didn’t have the skills, the resources, or the connections to get everything done. Jimi’s apartment in New York was full of things, along with the studio – clothes, instruments – and a lot of that just disappeared. My dad had arranged for all of Jimi’s stuff to be packed up and shipped home to us. Much of it never made it. In hindsight, he should have packed everything up himself, but he’d just lost a son … he was trying to deal with that while all these other things needed to be dealt with, as well.
In the meantime, there were all these questions put to my dad, like, “What are you going to do with all this stuff?” “Why do you want it?”
And my father couldn’t believe it. “Why do I want it? Because it was Jimi’s.” I mean, why would anyone even ask why? As far as my dad was concerned, those material things were Jimi at that point. That’s all that was left. And it began to disappear.

BR: So, before the family-owned Experience Hendrix was established, Jimi’s estate was being handled by…

JH: In the beginning, Jimi’s managers and another attorney. Actually, Chas Chandler was mostly out of the picture by then; it was mainly Michael Jeffery. [Note: Michael Jeffery was killed in a mid-air plane collision on 3/5/73.] From 1974 to 1992, we had an attorney who was handling everything. My dad and I founded Experience Hendrix in 1995 after three years of fighting the lawsuit to get the rights back.

BR: And how about you? What went on with you in the years leading up to the formation of Experience Hendrix?

JH: After high school, I went to college for a degree in education. I got married – since divorced – and have four children. I stayed at home with them while they were little, but was actually getting ready to start teaching about the time we got involved in the lawsuit.

BR: And the impetus for that?

JH: There was rumor on the street about this “10-million-dollar deal.” Basically, by signing over the control of everything, my dad was going to get 8 million and my brother and I were to receive a million each. I kept telling my dad, “Don’t sign anything.”
I took the agreements to another attorney. After about four months of research, we discovered that the lawyer who had been representing my dad for years was running these offshore corporations. He was trying to convince my dad to sign this “10-million-dollar deal” – that was the plan. But it wasn’t a 10-million-dollar deal – it was a 75-million-dollar deal. And my dad’s attorney was going to receive the remaining 65 million. That’s when we initiated the lawsuit.
At that point, I just put everything else on hold. I spent 10-hour days every single day reading documents. We have a legal law library now in our office that is three walls – ceiling-to-floor – of binders that had to be gone through.
My dad was always more of an audio learner; he had me read all the documents to him aloud. We’re not attorneys, you know, so we didn’t know a lot of legalese, but I feel like I earned an honorary law degree from everything we went through. (laughs) I’d have the big Webster’s dictionary sitting there and my dad would go, “What does that word mean?” and I’d look it up. Together we were learning what all the legalese meant. And that’s how we got through those years of the lawsuit. God bless [Microsoft co-founder] Paul Allen, as he lent us the money to be able to fight to get our rights back.

Chapter Three: Treasures In The Vault

BR: Let’s swing things back to the music. These days, all of the archives are kept where?

JH: In a temperature-controlled vault – which is a big improvement over where they used to be…

BR: Which was?

JH: In my dad’s basement. (laughter) You have to understand that my dad really didn’t know anything about the music business – why would he? We had all the tapes at our house for years. My dad kept them in a cool, dry closet in the basement. Now we have safety copies of everything – both digital and analog – and we’ve listened to it all. We’ve never had to bake a tape, which is great.

BR: I’ll be talking to your archivist, John McDermott, later. I see him as your version of the Dead’s Dick Latvala.

JH: You’ll have a good time talking to John. He won’t tell you this, but he has a photographic memory.

BR: Really?

JH: Absolutely – you can hold up any tape in our vault and say, “What’s on this at 24:38?” and he’ll tell you exactly what it is. (laughter)

BR: Well, that’s cool to know – thank you. If it seems appropriate, I’ll bring it up.

JH: He’d never tell you that, but I’ve figured it out over the years of working with him. He admitted it, finally. “It’s a blessing and a curse,” he said. (laughter)

BR: I can’t help but think about the library of live Grateful Dead recordings out there – and how, from early on, they had some pretty serious sound people working with them. And then I think about so many of the shows Jimi did where the sound systems just weren’t ready for what he was doing … there has to be a lot of his music that was played well, but was totally at the mercy of less-than-capable sound systems at the time.

JH: I really think that in some ways, the technology still hasn’t caught up to Jimi’s music, really … not to the level that he wanted it to be.
But there’s still a lot of live music in the vault that hasn’t been released that will amaze you; it really is in pristine condition. Plus, there is everything from studio sessions to apartment jams with friends. Basically, any opportunity there was to record, Jimi was recording. He had a little 4-track that he would carry around.

BR: We should probably mention the Dagger Records label, which is basically Experience Hendrix’ official bootleg label, correct?

JH: Exactly. The name, of course, comes from Jimi’s song “Dolly Dagger”. She’s a bad girl, you know, but she’s tough and that’s what we see Dagger Records as being. Before Experience Hendrix ever existed my father and I spent a lot of time and money buying bootlegs as the regular Joe consumers. And we didn’t know that many of those CDs either didn’t have Jimi on them at all or he was on them as a sideman – even though his name was on the cover. If we could be fooled, the average person wouldn’t have a chance knowing what was what.
We’ve really tried to clean that situation up with our Dagger Records releases, which are only available on our website. One of the things we want people to know is Dagger Records is not for the new fan – we don’t carry the core releases. If one of these albums was your first exposure to Jimi’s music, you might not appreciate the mono sound. The Dagger releases are really for the hardcore fans – bootlegs at an affordable price. We’ve gone in just like we have with the frontline releases and fixed and mastered them appropriately to give the fans good quality recordings.

BR: Do you feel you’re still building the archives?

JH: Oh, absolutely – and anytime we find anything on Jimi, we’re on it.

BR: Do you ever look at Jimi’s schedule for a given period and say, “Let’s see – on the 15th, Jimi did a gig at …” and then try to track down a recording?

JH: Yeah – and that’s something that John is really good at – that’s his forte. A lot of times, he’s already sought out the music and figured out where it is. Once we flew out to North Carolina to view some live concert footage from a show. The woman who had it didn’t even realize what was in her attic, but John walked her through it over the phone. “You’re going to see these tins, and this is what they’re going to say …” and he told her all about them without even seeing them.

BR: Cool …

JH: It was really an adventure, including a ride in a prop plane where I could literally see the sky beneath my feet. (laughter)
John and I have joked in the past that someday we should write a book about the adventures we’ve been on to track down Jimi’s music. There have been some really cloak-and-dagger sorts of situations – like getting in a car with someone and not knowing where they’re taking you, so you can listen to a recording that they claim to have of Jimi.

BR: (laughs) What, because they were afraid that you were going to steal it?

JH: Oh, absolutely – that we were going to somehow snatch their tape and run with it. (laughter) My poor dad sat and listened to tapes that had another drumbeat recorded over top of it – just in case he was trying to record it himself, I guess. It’s like, come on – we just want to listen and determine if it’s legit, you know? There have been a lot of quirky things that have gone on.

Chapter Four: New Music; Future Projects

BR: Let’s talk about some of the upcoming projects, starting with the new box set, West Coast Seattle Boy. Where did the name come from, by the way?

JH: West Coast Seattle Boy is a name Jimi called himself. The title on the cover is actually in his own handwriting. There are 4 CDs plus Voodoo Child, a 90-minute documentary DVD.
You’ll recognize the names of many of the songs, but these are all rare and previously-unreleased versions. The box set encompasses Jimi’s career and shows an evolution of his music from sideman to the Experience and beyond – writing and recording music that was in his heart and soul.

BR: The very last cut on the 4th CD – “Suddenly November Morning” – is one of my favorites; just Jimi and an acoustic guitar. How did you guys come by it?

JH: That was just Jimi and his little 4-track. That particular recording was actually in the archives … one of the things overlooked by the old administration. I love how he played acoustic – especially when he played the 12-string: just so beautiful and so warm. Jimi wrote over 110 songs in four years – which is kind of hard to wrap your mind around – and each one of them is a little piece of his soul and spirit.

BR: The Voodoo Child documentary is a neat mix of Jimi from old interviews and Bootsy Collins’ narration. How did you choose Bootsy?

JH: I’d listened to some of Bootsy’s older stuff and always thought he sounded a little like Jimi. The clincher was when we did a tribute album called Power of Soul and asked Bootsy to be on it.
After he did his track, he asked me what I thought of it and I told him, “Well, it’s good …” Bootsy asked me, “What’s wrong?” And I told him, “Nothing’s wrong, it’s just that we don’t sample Jimi.”
And he said, “Sample Jimi? I didn’t sample Jimi – that’s _me!_” He sounded so much like Jimi … Bootsy was delighted when I said that: “That’s the best compliment you could’ve given me!” (laughs)
I got the idea from the Tupac movie where he’s narrating and then his cousin picks it up seamlessly. When we talked about doing this, I asked Bootsy and he didn’t miss a beat: “Absolutely I would.”

BR: He does sound a lot like Jimi, but it’s not like somebody trying to do an impersonation – it’s more the vibe.

JH: That’s right, that’s right.

BR: What can we say at this point about future projects?

JH: Right now, we have about 8 years’ worth of releases planned. The Royal Albert Hall documentary is due to come out next year, which is kind of reality TV as we know it today. It was filmed in 1969 with about half a dozen cameras following Jimi, Noel, and Mitch around for a month in Europe.
Out of about 110 minutes of film, there’s 40 minutes of great concert footage shot at London’s Royal Albert Hall. From there, you have Jimi in his apartment playing guitar with friends; the usual mix of trains, planes, and automobiles; listening to the session from the day before to hear how the recording came out – it’s really just how Jimi was.

BR: Well, here’s probably the hardest question I could ask you: how would you sum up who Jimi was?

JH: Not to be sacrilegious or anything, but I really do think that Jimi was a prophet. He had a vision and he had a message to tell – a message of love. All he wanted from people was for them to hear his music – to experience and feel it.
If I could erase one thing that has been told about him, it would be that Jimi didn’t die of an overdose; he didn’t try to kill himself; he didn’t commit suicide. It was just an unfortunate situation that happened where he’d taken some sleeping pills wanting to get some rest after having drunk wine earlier that night. The mixture of the two caused Jimi to vomit, which led to his asphyxiation – and that’s what he died from.
But he loved life; he had great plans and he was excited about the new music he was working on. He told my dad, “You won’t believe this new sound – you’re going to be doubly proud when you hear it.” Jimi was excited about the new studio and bringing more instruments into the music – similar to what he did on stage at Woodstock … percussion, another guitarist, some horns.
Jimi was more than just a guitarist – he was an artist in every form of the word. He could draw; he had beautiful handwriting; he wrote beautiful lyrics; and made beautiful music.
Jimi never really felt appreciated by the world; he had his fans, but he wanted people of all colors, races, and creeds to hear his music and really embrace it.

BR: And at the same time, that was your brother – the same guy who played Monopoly with you all night.

JH: (laughs) I know, I know …
Jimi used to like to be the old beat-up shoe when we played Monopoly – that’s what he’d always be. You know that lyric in “Hear My Train A’Comin” that says, “One day I’ll come back and buy this town and put it all in my shoe?”

BR: I’ll never look at Monopoly the same way again. (laughter)

Source : http://www.jambands.com/features/2010/11/16/experiencing-jimi-part-1-janie-hendrix/

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Cosmik Debris (mai 1997) : Interviews de Al Hendrix, Janie Hendrix
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