Jimi Hendrix Experience Estates in Dispute Over Royalties
The estate of Jimi Hendrix launched a lawsuit against the heirs of the guitarist’s former band members Noel Redding and Mitch Mitchell.
The legal action revolved around the claim that late bassist Redding and late drummer Mitchell earned unpaid royalties as part of the Jimi Hendrix Experience, and are owed by the Hendrix estate and Sony. The band released three albums between 1967 and 1968 before breaking up the following year. Hendrix died in 1970, Redding passed in 2003 and Mitchell died in 2008.
Rolling Stone reported that British lawyer Lawrence Abramson wrote to Experience Hendrix LLC and Sony Music Entertainment last month, stating that royalties were owed to the estates of the rhythm section in regards to 3 billion streams of their music, adding that the figure In question was “estimated to be in the millions of pounds.” That led Hendrix’s estate to commence a pre-emptive lawsuit, seeking a “declaratory judgment of ownership and noninfringement.”
Filing in the U.S. District Court in the Southern District of New York, attorney Dorothy Weber argued that Redding signed a contract in April 1973, agreeing not to sue Hendrix’s estate and releasing it from future legal claims and that Mitchell signed a similar deal in September 1974. Both musicians received payment in return for their agreement.
Abramson’s position was that those deals were no longer enforceable, but Weber said they were, and further requested that a judge decide that “any claim of ownership by the Defendants was time-barred decades ago.” While Abramson said that Redding and Mitchell “died in relative poverty having never received their true entitlement from their works, performances and founding membership of the Jimi Hendrix Experience,” Weber said they never “asserted an ownership interest, or any other performers’ rights, in the recordings [in question]” despite continuing to work with the Hendrix estate from time to time.