Five unanswered questions over Jimi Hendrix’s mystery death from CIA links to 27 Club ‘curse’ on ‘overdose’ anniversary | The Sun

FROM alleged CIA links to poison rumours, the final moments of Jimi Hendrix's life remain a mystery 53 years on.

The Seattle-born rock icon was found unresponsive in a West London hotel about 11am on September 18, 1970.

Just over an hour later, he was pronounced dead at St Mary Abbot's Hospital in Kensington. He was 27.

Described by the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as "arguably the greatest instrumentalist in the history of rock music", Hendrix could not have known the success that lay before him when he first picked up the guitar age 15.

In four short years, he completely changed the face of guitar and rock music.

His death sent shockwaves around the world as fans struggled to wrap their heads around losing such a talent so unexpectedly – just two weeks after he played to 600,000 people at a festival.

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One person who may not have been surprised was Hendrix himself.

He famously took a tarot card reading which predicted his early death for gospel, telling a friend in 1969: "I'm going to die before I'm 30."

He counted down his last few months and told a journalist two days before his death: "I'm almost gone".

A post-mortem conducted days after Hendrix's death revealed he died choking on his own vomit after taking barbiturates – a type of depressant drug used recreationally to relax.

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But Coroner Gavin Thurston was unable to determine exactly how he died due to "insufficient evidence of the circumstances" and declared an open verdict on the case.

Unanswered questions and rumours of foul play have swirled ever since.

What role did drugs play in Hendrix's death?

Much of Hendrix's final three days were spent with a 25-year-old German figure skater and painter by the name of Monika Dannemann, in an apartment she rented at Notting Hill's Samarkand Hotel.

She would claim they were deeply in love and engaged to be married, though some, including biographer Philip Norman, say she was more of "an obsessive fan".

About 3am on September 18, it is said Dannemann collected Hendrix from a party at a music publisher's house and was berated to "leave him alone".

According to one of Dannemann's accounts, the couple returned to their apartment and stayed up talking, or arguing, until the morning.

Hendrix had supposedly earlier taken a "brown bomber" amphetamine pill and asked Dannemann for a sedative; she offered him a strong German sleeping pill and he took an unknown amount.

Another of her versions is that, upon returning from the party, the pair drank wine, Dannemann made Hendrix a tuna sandwich, and they went to bed.

She claimed she discovered nine of her sleeping tablets were missing when she woke.

It is generally accepted Dannemann woke on September 18 to find Hendrix "asleep", went out for cigarettes, and came home to him covered in vomit and unable to be roused.

Could Hendrix have been saved?

When she realised Hendrix was in a bad way, Dannemann is said to have called her friend Alvenia Bridges, who happened to be with English singer Eric Burdon.

Burdon's story asserted Dannemann had to be convinced to call for an ambulance as she was worried about who might find the drug paraphernalia scattered across their room.

An ambulance was finally called at 11.18am, more than two hours after Dannemann once told police she woke up.

It is believed that somebody could have "cleaned up" the place, clearing it of drugs before the ambulance arrived and wasting precious time when Hendrix could still have been helped.

Was Hendrix murdered?

The on-call registrar who saw Hendrix the day he arrived at St Mary Abbot's Hospital, Dr John Bannister, claimed Hendrix had been dead for hours when he arrived – and he was covered in red wine.

He told The Times in 2009: "The amount of wine that was over him was just extraordinary.

"Not only was it saturated right through his hair and shirt, but his lungs and stomach were absolutely full of wine … We kept sucking him out and it kept surging and surging.

"He had really drowned in a massive amount of red wine."

But his autopsy made no mention of wine in Hendrix's lungs or stomach and recorded little alcohol in his bloodstream.

Some think the FBI or the CIA may have considered Hendrix a threat due to his affiliation with black radical groups, such as the Black Panthers, and murdered him to keep his perceived beliefs from gaining momentum.

Dannemann once claimed in an interview that her former lover had been murdered by mobsters, telling biographer Caesar Glebbeek: "I do believe that he got poisoned, that he was actually murdered.

"There is something really behind the whole thing, and there's quite a powerful group behind all that. I think it is the mafia."

The mafia, it has been alleged, killed Hendrix because they were unhappy with him bringing drugs into downtown New York.

Hendrix's manager Mike Jeffery, who allegedly had mob ties, was also rumoured to have hired people to kill the rockstar so he could cash in a $2million life insurance policy on him, though he never received a penny.

It has also been suggested Jeffery could have been a former CIA or M15 agent and was spying on Hendrix.

Was it suicide?

Hendrix's final weeks were a mess.

He showed up wasted to a show in Gothenburg, Sweden and forgot his songs, then lasted just three numbers at his next gig in Denmark.

His final show, on Fehmarn Island in Germany, was pushed due to a storm, and when he finally made it onstage he was booed and jeered.

At the close of his set, Hells Angels security stormed the stage to set fire to it and shot a roadie in the leg.

Hendrix, completely worn out by the tour, cancelled his remaining dates and returned to London.

He confided in friends and journalists feelings of aimlessness and distrust and looked unlike himself: ghostly and thin.

Some, including the author of Jimi Hendrix: The Man, the Magic, the Truth, Sharon Lawrence, are convinced the guitarist died by suicide.

In a cruel twist, Dannemann ended her own life in 1996.

Was he part of the 'cursed' 27 Club?

The mysterious death of American blues musician Robert Johnson in 1938, when he was 27, began an eerie trend among celebrated stars.

Jimi Hendrix was one of the earliest members of the infamous 27 Club, along with Brian Jones, Janis Joplin, and Jim Morrison.

Kurt Cobain would join the popular musicians in 1994 and Amy Winehouse in 2011.

Much like Hendrix, Winehouse seemed to see her own death coming.

A friend recalled: "She reckoned she would join the 27 Club of rockstars who died at that age.

"She told me, 'I have a feeling I'm gonna die young'."

Some believe the multitude of untimely deaths not to be an unfortunate coincidence, but a curse.

Legend says Johnson "sold his soul to the devil" in exchange for unparalleled musical talent before being poisoned by the jealous spouse of a woman he wooed.

Popular artists were thus doomed to die at the height of their careers, when they were 27.

Biographer Philip Norman and filmmaker Joe Boyd are two of many people who are convinced Hendrix's death was merely a terrible accident.

Norman told The Independent: “I think it really was that more mundane [explanation] of accidentally taking too much, and not being helped when he could have been helped.


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"I think it’s that he was befuddled, not high and not particularly drunk, but just slightly confused and took double the dose that he thought he was taking."

Boyd told The Telegraph he was satisfied, after speaking with people close to the situation for his documentary about Jimi Hendrix, that there "isn't any basis in fact" to the more outlandish theories that surround the guitarist's tragic death.

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