“Sod the wine, I want to suck on the writing. This man White is an instinctive writer, bloody rare to find one who actually pulls it off, as in still gets a meaning across with concision. Sharp arbitrage of speed and risk, closest thing I can think of to Cicero’s ‘motus continuum animi.’

Probably takes a drink or two to connect like that: he literally paints his senses on the page.”

DBC Pierre (Vernon God Little, Ludmila’s Broken English, Lights Out In Wonderland)

Winner: Booker prize; Whitbread prize; Bollinger Wodehouse Everyman prize; James Joyce Award from the Literary & Historical Society of University College Dublin

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21 July 2009

JIMI HENDRIX DROWNED IN RED WINE

Purple Haze All Around My Brain 
Aussie Doc Backs Murder Claims
Bob Brown The Green There Too
 by PHILIP WHITE


Jimi Hendrix drowned in red wine.

Tappy Wright, 65, a roadie who worked for Hendrix, has just released a memoir, Rock Roadie, in which he claims Hendrix, 27, was murdered by his manager, Mike Jeffery on September 18, 1970.

The book alleges that the almost-bankrupt Jeffery told Wright that Hendrix was “worth more to him dead than alive”, took out a $2 million life insurance policy, then arranged with Hendrix’s junkie girlfriend, Monika Danneman, and some hired hands to sedate Hendrix and force red wine down his throat until he drowned.

Hendrix had been considering changing managers. The book claims Jeffery, an ex-secret serviceman with close underworld connections, confessed the murder to Wright a month before he was killed in a plane crash.

Dannemann, whose drug consumption almost equalled that of Hendrix, committed suicide in 1996.

John Bannister, now 67, the Australian doctor on call at St Mary Abbots Hospital the morning Hendrix was admitted, came back to Australia two years later, and practised as an orthopaedic surgeon until he was deregistered for fraudulent conduct in 1992.

Since the publication of Rock Roadie, Bannister, who lives in Sydney, told The Times of London that the murder theory is “plausible”.

Bannister had no idea who his dead patient was.

“Somebody said to me ‘You know who that was?” Bannister said. “That was Jimi Hendrix’ and, of course, I said, ‘Who’s Jimi Hendrix?’.

“He was very long”, he remembers. “He was hanging over the table we had him on by about ten inches.



“When you are in casualty, one always tries very hard to resuscitate people. There’s always a hope. We worked very hard for about half an hour but there was no response at all. It really was an exercise in futility,” he said.

Bannister said that Hendrix was quite literally full of red wine.

“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. I have never seen so much wine. We had a sucker that you put down into his trachea, the entrance to his lungs and to the whole of the back of his throat.

“We kept sucking him out and it kept surging and surging. He had already vomited up masses of red wine and I would have thought there was half a bottle of wine in his hair.”

“It was just extraordinary. He had really drowned in a massive amount of red wine.”

In his retirement speech from the Australian parliament on 5th June 2012, Senator Bob Brown, former leader of the Australian Greens, confirmed that he was another Australian intern on duty in casualty that night.  He said Hendrix had been dead for some hours when he saw him, and that Bannister signed the death certificate. 

Rock Roadie seems destined to sit alongside Phil Kaufman's Road Mangler Deluxe as a piquant tell-all loaded with early seventies rock lore. Kaufman, who produced a recording for Charles Manson, amongst other things, was the roadie who backed his old hearse into the California morgue, stole the body of Gram Parsons, took it up to Joshua Tree and burned it.


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