Families of Jimi Hendrix’s two British bandmates sue Sony Music for millions claiming the publisher withheld royalties causing them to die in ‘relative poverty’
No-one disputes Jimi Hendrix’s musical legacy, but it’s a different story when it comes to his royalties.
Relatives of the late American guitarist’s two British bandmates are taking Sony Music to the High Court in London, saying the label owes them millions of pounds.
The heirs of bassist Noel Redding and drummer Mitch Mitchell – who died in 2003 and 2008 respectively – say each man was due 25 per cent of the income earned by the Jimi Hendrix Experience, formed in 1966.
The remaining 50 per cent was Mr Hendrix’s, who died in 1970 after an apparent drugs binge.
Their court claim accuses Sony Music of having ‘profited from unauthorised exploitation … that infringes [Mr Redding and Mr Mitchell’s] copyrights and performers’ rights. [They] have not been compensated for their work and both died in relative poverty.’
A preliminary hearing will focus on whether Mr Redding and Mr Mitchell signed away their rights in the 1970s.
No-one disputes Jimi Hendrix’s musical legacy, but it’s a different story when it comes to his royalties
The heirs of bassist Noel Redding (left) and drummer Mitch Mitchell (right)– who died in 2003 and 2008 respectively – say each man was due 25 per cent of the income earned by the Jimi Hendrix Experience
A preliminary hearing will focus on whether Mr Redding and Mr Mitchell signed away their rights in the 1970s (Pictured: Noel Redding, left, Jimi Hendrix, center, and Mitch Mitchell)
They lodged a claim against the Hendrix estate in the US in 1972, but settled when Mr Mitchell was paid $247,500 and Mr Redding received $100,000 – worth around $1.5 million and $600,000 today.
According to legal sources, Sony bosses believe this means the claims should be rejected.
After lawyers for the band members’ relatives outlined their claims last year, the Hendrix estate and Sony’s US arm filed legal papers in New York seeking a court confirmation that the 1970s agreements were still in force.
Mr Redding and Mr Mitchell’s relatives then launched an action in London. Sony has tried to delay that case, but Judge Edwin Johnson ruled in April that New York law is only relevant to the settlements signed by the two musicians and ‘not to the entirety of the claims’.
Mr Redding was preparing a legal claim of more than £3 million against the Hendrix estate at the time of his death, but this was abandoned.
He left his own estate to his partner Deborah McNaughton, whose sisters inherited it. Mr Mitchell’s estate went to his daughter, Aysha.
British businessman Ed Adams, who is bringing the action with the backing of the heirs, said: ‘Mitchell had virtually nothing in his will.’
A Sony Music spokesman said: ‘As this is subject to live legal proceedings we’re unable to comment.’