Jimi Hendrix's father seeks lost royalties

Roger Pearson reports on a music industry dispute over the singer's royalty rights for six albums that has endured for three decades.

A high-profile music industry battle is looming in the High Court over the royalty rights to six albums by the late Jimi Hendrix.

The battle has been launched by Experience Hendrix LLC, a company owned by Hendrix's father, James Hendrix. The company is seeking injunctions restraining US-based PPX Enterprises Inc and Edward Chalpin from releasing dozens of recordings made by Jimi Hendrix. And it is seeking orders to make them hand over all recordings of songs on the six albums.

The claim, issued on behalf of the company by Eversheds at the High Court in London, also asks for an account of royalties and payment of all royalties found due, along with damages.

It alleges that the dispute goes back more than three decades to 1967, when PPX initially sued Jimi Hendrix and others in the High Court over an agreement they had made in 1965. Hendrix died in London in September 1970. And in 1973 a High Court judge finally made an order by consent of the parties under which PPX and Chalpin agreed to hand over all master recordings on which Hendrix had performed, and to withdraw unconditionally all allegations made in the court action.

It is alleged that the deal left PPX free to carry out existing contracts, but not to issue any recordings except those covered by the contracts. However, part of that deal is said to be that Jimi Hendrix's estate was entitled to royalties on records sold under any new licence or extension or variation of existing licences.

In the new action, it is claimed that the 1973 court order has been breached. It is alleged that PPX and Chalpin failed to hand over all the masters in their possession, and have issued Jimi Hendrix recordings of which they have failed to pay royalties.

Now Experience Hendrix LLC claims it is entitled to royalties, although it says it is not possible at the moment to say how much is owing. The recordings at the centre of the case are said to include hits such as Itsy Bitsy Teeny Weeny Yellow Polka Dot Bikini, Hang on Snoopy, Bright Lights Big City, Ballad of Jimi, Day Tripper, Gloomy Money and California, Satisfaction and Twist and Shout.