Gary James' Interview With Jimi Hendrix's Sister
Jimi Hendrix was the greatest guitarist that ever lived. His influence in popular music can be heard even today.
Experience Hendrix is a company run by Jim Hendrix's family. Janie Hendrix is the CEO and President of that company.
Janie Hendrix talked with us about the memories she has of her famous brother and what it took to wrestle control of the business of Jimi Hendrix back into the hands of Jimi's family.
Q - Before Experience Hendrix was started in 1995, who was handling the business for the Jimi Hendrix
A - It was our former attorney.
Q - Why did it take the family so long to take over the business of Jimi Hendrix?
A - It took us two and a half years. Prior to that we never thought we were out of control. We thought
that our attorney had our best interests at heart and that he was handling it in our best interests, but, we
didn't find out until 1992 that when he was trying to sell the rights, he didn't have our best interests at
Q - How many family members are involved in Experience Hendrix?
A - Let's see, half the employees are family members, and I have about a dozen employees.
Q - Are you having problems with Bootleg Hendrix products?
A - Well, we probably had more back in the days.... It's kind of subsided a bit, because we have Dagger Records. We basically bootleg the bootleggers. (Laughs). We come out with CD's that can only be found on our website and in our catalog. Basically we acquire tapes of whole concerts or apartment jams or some things that the bootleggers have never gotten a hold of. A lot of times you go into various music stores and they're called imports, but, they're not necessarily imports, they're bootlegs. Then people are fooled. Sometimes Jimi's not on them or he's a sideman, and they're charging $50.00 a CD, where were not doing that to people. We're giving them a really good product at a reasonable price, but it doesn't clog up the bins. It doesn't confuse the new and coming fan that wants to hear Jimi's music in stereo sound versus mono. They want to hear Jimi in the best light. So, it doesn't confuse them that way.
Q - When I walk into Spencers, I see the name Elvis and The Beatles on everything from pillows to lunch pails. Are you planning to license the name Jimi Hendrix like Priscilla Presley did to Elvis?
A - We try to be very tasteful.
Q - Glad to hear it.
A - (Laughs). There's a difference between Jimi and Elvis. Jimi wrote and we own as a family over 100
songs. So, Elvis is a persona. He didn't write his songs.
Q - Even though Elvis' manager sometimes forced the songwriter to give Elvis half of the songwriting
credit, which we see on his records.
A - Yeah, the family doesn't own any more of that. RCA does.
Q - Is there a lot of material of Jimi's that has yet to be released?
A - Oh yeah. At least another 2 more years (worth).
Q - How is that possible? He must've lived in the recording studio?
A - He did (laughs).
Q - Do you find this material in a vault?
A - They're all in different places. We manage to retrieve a lot of tapes from people's homes or they were in recording studios that got torn down. So, we're manages to re-gain control over these tapes. But, as far as his drive for writing music and recording virtually everything ... if he didn't do it in the studio, he did it in his own apartment. He had like a 4 track that he carried around with him. He just constantly heard music, so he was just constantly recording.
Q - What is or was the Red House Tour?
A - That was my cousin Bob's baby. It's our 18-wheeler. It's a museum on wheels. It's interactive. It's totally free, to the public. There are replicas of guitars, clothing inside. We obviously don't have the originals 'cause the insurance would choke us. (Laughs). There's a running video that can be seen of Jimi performing. And then of course there's memorabilia that people can buy.
Q - Where do you take this tour?
A - It's been at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame when they opened Jimi week, or they were having Jimi year. It was like a weekend that they were doing Jimi in September. We were releasing the box set. Then here is Seattle I was at Tower for a week, when there was Jimi week at EMP, which is Paul Allen's museum. It's been on the Warp Tour. It went to Woodstock. So, it goes to different festivals, and then the goal is also to get a schedule for it to go on college campuses, which they're working on right now.
Q - How much of an age difference was there between you and your brother?
A - Eighteen years.
Q - I guess you don't remember him all that well then?
A - Well, I knew him (Laughs). I remember what I remember. I think what happens to a lot of us is we can't remember what happened a week ago, but I can remember when Jimi was here. It's the quality of time and the fact it was a homecoming when Jimi came home. Nobody wanted to go to sleep when he was here. You just wanted to stay up and talk to him all night.
Q - Did he ever take out his guitar and start playing?
A - No. The interesting thing about that is, everyone I know that hung out with Jimi let's say in New York, said it's very odd that everywhere he went he did have his guitar and would play. I think his thing about coming to visit the family was just that. He wanted to be focused and spend time with the family.
Q - When was the last time you saw him?
A - July 26th, 1970.
Q - About 6 weeks then before he passed away.
A - About 8 weeks.
Q - Do you recall what his mood was like at the time?
A - He was in really good spirits. His plan was, he had to do his European Tour. He had just finished Electric Lady Studios. He was really excited about that. He had just finished Electric Ladyland, the album. He kept telling my dad he was working on this new kind of music, and that Dad would be doubly proud of him. He wanted to include other instruments in his band, so it wasn't just a three-piece group. It would have horns and keyboards. I kind of relay that to what Earth, Wind and Fire became in 1971, which is a year after Jimi died. I think it was more of that full band effect. Then he also told my father to start looking for a house in Mercer Island. That's where Paul Allen and Bill Gates live. At the time Jimi was growing up and of course up until 1979 my dad retired; he used to be a gardener, a lot of my dad's clients were over at Mercer Island, so we experienced how the rich people live. So, he wanted my dad to find a house on the water. He wanted to take a sabbatical and leave and come stay with us far a few months. Chill out. He'd been on the road for over 3 years.
Q - Are you satisfied with the official verdict of your brother's death or do you believe there was foul
A - I know how he died. I know how it was reported in the media and the two aren't the same.
Q - Alright, then do you believe your brother was murdered?
A - Oh, conspiracy theories. Well, I've heard conspiracy theories since I was 9 years old. That's how old I was when he passed away. It could drive you crazy and I'm not saying it was. Anything's possible. My Dad used to say never say never. But, I guess this is the way the family looks at it. You could sit and think of how and why somebody passed away, but you can't bring them back. We spent many years looking into certain things and then of course all the people that seemed to be involved at the time are no longer here. So, what do you do? It's like you can't bring that person back and we're here to live and to continue the music he left us, and that's what we concentrate on doing.