Jimi Hendrix Encyclopedia

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December 07, 1969

On this day, Jimi flew to Toronto, Canada to make a court appearance related to the drug possession charges brought against him in May. While in Toronto, Hendrix was a guest at the posh Royal York Hotel at 100 Front Street West.

Canada court drug possession Media Toronto

December 08, 1969

Jimi appeared in court at 10 a.m. in defense of a drug possession charge made against him in May 1969. Under the jurisdiction of Judge Joseph Kelly, Hendrix stood beside Defense Attorney John O’Driscoll and before twelve jury members. The first witness for the Crown was Customs Officer Marvin Wilson. It had been Wilson who stopped Hendrix during a Customs check on May 3, 1969 as the guitarist tried to enter Canada to perform at Maple Leaf Gardens in Toronto. Wilson recounted his take of the situation, which was subsequently echoed his superior officer, a Customs Supervisor, as well as another Royal Canadian Mounted Police officer. Hendrix then took the stand next. The twenty-seven year old Seattle native proceeded to inform the court that he was entirely unaware of the drugs found in his travel bag. Hendrix made clear his own experimentation with a variety of drugs in the past, but that in this instance, he had no idea that someone had packed drugs in his travel bag. Hendrix claimed that the drugs were mistakenly packed in one of his travel bags along with a number of other gifts he had received from fans while attending a party in Hollywood.

court drug possession John O’Driscoll Marvin Wilson Media trial

December 09, 1969

Jimi returned to court to take the stand once again, recounting his side of the story. After Jimi concluded his testimony, journalist Sharon Lawrence was called next. Lawrence testified that she had been with Hendrix at the Beverly Rodeo Hotel prior to his departure. Lawrence echoed Hendrix’s explanation that the drugs had been placed in the guitarist’s travel bags without his knowledge. The defense then called Hendrix’s former producer and co-manager Chas Chandler. Chandler proved to be a compelling witness, lending credibility to Hendrix’s claim while providing details within the life of a successful touring musician.

Chas Chandler court drugs Media Sharon Lawrence trial

December 10, 1969

Jimi Hendrix’s trial for drug possession entered its third day. Both the Counsel for the Defense and the Counsel for the Prosecution made their final address before the jury. The Defense rested the case on the law that to be charged with the possession of a narcotic there has to be knowledge of its existence. Hendrix’s attorney John O’Driscoll reminded the jury that a conviction cannot be handed down if there is any doubt. After a brief address by the Counsel for the Prosecution the jury left the courtroom and deliberated for eight hours before returning with a verdict of not guilty.

drug possession Jimi Hendrix John O’Driscoll Media trial

December 14, 1969

Just months after leaving the Experience to front Fat Mattress, Noel Redding’s group was coming undone. Rolling Stone magazine was among the first to reveal the group’s undoing. “Despite reports to the contrary, Noel Redding’s Fat Mattress was not breaking up. Redding became ill during the group’s million-dollar American tour. In a statement from the Robert Stigwood Organization (Fat Mattress’s management company) said, “Fat Mattress’s debut tour of America has been postponed because of lead guitarist Noel Redding’s sudden illness.” Chas Chandler, the group’s manager strongly denied all rumors pointing the groups split saying “Noel flew home from New York after consulting his doctor and Rik Grunnell, head of the Stigwood office in the States. Noel will be taking a complete rest over the Christmas holiday at a secret address. New plans for Fat Mattress will be put into operation and announced in January.”

Fat Mattress Media Noel Redding Rolling Stone

December 23, 1969

Hendrix and attorney Henry Steingarten conduct a telephone conversation surrounding the issues of November 10th. A follow-up letter is sent to Hendrix on December 24 that further outlines the decisions made during the conversation. Record Plant, New York Studio Recording Honey Bed Technical problems hindered Hendrix’s progress on this night. This session was dedicated to “Honey Bed,” an intriguing demo that seemed to draw upon elements of “Bleeding Heart” and “Come Down Hard On Me.” As take three wound down, Hendrix guided Cox and Miles through an early rendition of “Night Bird Flying.” Just past the two-minute mark, a terrifying noise caused Jimi to shout, ‘Hey guys, what’s that noise?’ The squelch grew louder before the recording cut out and the session came to a halt. No other recording was attempted.

Bleeding Heart Come Down Hard On Me Henry Steingarten Honey Bed Media

December 27, 1969

Despite initial reports that Fat Mattress had not disbanded, new information surfaced about the group’s messy split. Guitarist Noel Redding left for home after suffering what was being called a “nervous breakdown.” A spokesman for the Robert Stigwood Organization said, “the American tour could have been worth a million dollars.” Meanwhile, Jimmy Leverton of Fat Mattress told Melody Maker “the whole thing got out of hand. It was down to a personal thing within the band. We just couldn’t go on.”

Fat Mattress Media Melody Maker Noel Redding

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