In 1970 Jimi Hendrix was sent off to Hawaii to film a movie called “Rainbow Bridge.” His entourage rented a Bushwhacker dune buggy that was over-the-top. It was customized with a metal-flake paint job overlaid with pin-striping, and a loud floral-printed rag top and interior. The crew unbolted the top and Hendrix would flip himself around on the roll bar like a gymnast. Barry Hilton had about 50 customized Bushwhackers at his hotel painted light blue & Gold with big rainbow stickers on the top and sides that were used used in the movie– making the Bushwhacker dune buggy an icon of the psychedelic era.
Roger Smith’s blog– Ready, Steady, Gone is a great historical resource for the music scene of the mid-to-late ’60s. The below words and images have been excerpted from http://www.readysteadygone.co.uk
“Mike Jeffery established a company called Antah Kar Ana Incorporated, which he owned and controlled. The company was set up to produce ‘Rainbow Bridge’, which Warner Brothers would distribute. Jimi had already committed himself to Rainbow Bridge by signing a contract with Warner Brothers which also involved an advance of money for the completion of the Electric Lady Studio. No doubt Warner Brothers thought that the film would be successful based on the strength of Jimi Hendrix’s soundtrack and his live performance in the film. The more Hendrix learned about the film, the less he wanted to be involved. He quarreled with Mike Jeffery about having to take part. In the end Mike Jeffery instructed Jerry Stickells, Hendrix’s tour manager to get Hendrix drugged up after a gig in Seattle on 28th July 1970 and bring him to Hawaii for filming. Once in Hawaii and after a lot of arguing, Hendrix reluctantly agreed to appear in the film and do a concert near the Rainbow Bridge Occult Centre.
The Jimi Hendrix Experience in Hawaii, 1968. According to Ron Raffaelli who photographed the session, the girl on the right was Kathy Etchingham. She was going out with Hendrix at the time. The other girl on the left was Mike Jeffery’s girlfriend.
Rainbow Bridge was directed by Chuck Wein, who’d had three previous movies produced by Andy Warhol’s Factory. The plot of Rainbow Bridge, a documentary-style film, involved a New York model who travels from California to an occult centre on the island of Maui, Hawaii. While there she encounters various devotees of surfing, clairvoyance, zen, yoga, meditation and Tai-Chi. The star of Rainbow Bridge, Pat Hartley and Jimi Hendrix argued with Chuck Wein and Michael Jeffery about how they were being asked to perform. The actors were supposed to improvise their lines but, in fact, were being told what to say. Hendrix eventually did what was asked of him and completed his acting part. The film also includes seventeen minutes of the Jimi Hendrix Experience playing at an open air concert in front of a crowd of hippies.
By the time Chuck Wein and his crew had returned to Hollywood, they had more than forty hours of film. Warners Brothers was nervous. The original budget had been set between $200,000 and $300,000 but it looked as if a further $500,000 would be needed to complete the film. Mike Jeffery went to Warner Brothers and suggested that more of Jimi’s future royalties be used. However, the record company objected, so Mike Jeffrey pledged more of his own money. At this stage he thought the end result of the Rainbow Bridge project would be the means to rescue his own desperate financial situation.
On 13th August 1970 Jimi Hendrix cancelled a planned trip to London saying that he was suffering as the result of a surfing accident that he had sustained in Hawaii at the beginning of the month. Mike Jeffery was not happy. He thought that Hendrix needed the exposure in the UK. The Electric Lady Studio had cost a lot of money which could only be recouped by the Experience touring.
Mike Jeffery’s and Jimi Hendrix’s problems were further compounded when they found out that the perpetual thorn in their sides, Ed Chalpin, was suing Track Records and Polydor. In the opinion of Sharon Lawrence, Jimi’s journalist friend and confidant, Hendrix was frustrated with Mike Jeffery saying: ‘Michael Jeffery told me from the beginning that he’d handle it, but he’s selling me out. Five years later and that fucking Chalpin is still hounding me– I get sick every time I hear his name.’
The Jimi Hendrix Experience – Mitch Mitchell, Jimi Hendrix and Noel Redding
Jimi Hendrix had been recording in his New York Electric Lady Studios since 15th June 1970. In spite of all the problems with lawsuits, personnel changes and the lack of communication between him and Mike Jeffery, a lavish party was held on 26th August 1970 to mark the official opening of the studio. The party was attended by rock stars, showbiz types, the press and hangers-on. The place was just about trashed by the party-goers. Hendrix was disgusted by the mess and left early. He had a lot on his mind.”
Rare photo of Jimi Hendrix & Mike Jeffery, and for very good reason.
“Before becoming Jimi Hendrix’s manager, Michael Jeffery had been a covert op for British Intelligence. According to one of his original clients, Eric Burdon of the Animals, Jeffery often boasted of his 007 escapades during the Cold War — staging assassinations in Greece, torturing KGB agents, blowing up Russian/Egyptian bases in the Suez.
The Animals’ singer, Jimi’s future close friend, took these stories as drunken tall tales until, early one morning, the former MI6 agent invited him out to the London harbor where the U.S. Seventh Fleet happened to be trolling for some lost nukes. His manager emerged from the water in scuba gear, holding a black box. Pointing out to the armada, the ex-spy pulled a switch: suddenly the harbor was rocked with underwater explosions.
‘Like most people of felonious intent,’ Burdon wrote in his memoir, “he was charming, attractive, and sometimes a riot to be around.”
Jeffery had made the transition from demolition and espionage to rock and roll by studying under ‘The Al Capone of Pop’ himself, Don Arden. Also known as ‘The English Godfather,’ Arden, Sharon Osbourne’s father, went on to manage the Small Faces, Electric Light Orchestra, and Black Sabbath. He was known for his old-fashioned business methods – bribery, blackmail, assault, kidnapping. Jeffery proved his own mettle against his mentor when he stole the Animals away from him without losing life or limb.
The retired spy parlayed his MI6 and Arden experience to become a rock and roll Dr. No. ‘His own mob sprang up around him like morning mushrooms,’ Burdon wrote. ‘… His main enforcer was The Turk, a nasty bastard whose tools of choice were an ax and two highly trained German shepherds.’ The singer went on to describe how Jeffery burnt down his Club Marimba for the insurance money, then how he absconded with the Animals’ money.
In the fall of 1966, the Animals’ bassist, Chas Chandler, discovered Jimi Hendrix in New York, flew him to London and introduced him to Jeffery. The two co-managed the guitarist and helped him assemble the Experience. Several years later, Chas and Jimi became estranged due to creative differences. ‘The window of opportunity was there for Jeffery to scoop it all up,’ he said. ‘I knew that something dodgy was gonna happen. But I never dreamt it would lead to his [Jimi’s] death.’
In his own memoir, bassist Noel Redding described Jeffery’s fondness for guns, throwing knives, electronic bugging devices, and roadie spies. As for his financial skills, to discourage frivolous audits, the ex-spy kept all his business records in Russian.
Jeffery toured Jimi and the Experience relentlessly after their apotheosis at Monterey Pop in ’67. By ‘69, the guitarist was earning $100,000 per gig, but was too exhausted and drugged out to realize that he was virtually broke while Jeffery was a multi-millionaire with off-shore numbered bank accounts.
At last, burnt out on touring, Jimi told his manager he was disbanding the Experience. No sooner did he reveal his intention than he was busted for heroin possession in Toronto. He came to suspect that Jeffery, desperate that he might lose his cash cow, had engineered the bust so he, Jimi, would be forced to keep the Experience alive to foot his legal expenses.
Four months later, just after Woodstock, Hendrix was kidnapped at gunpoint, held hostage for several days, then ‘rescued’ in a dramatic shoot-out at his Woodstock compound. Soon he came to suspect that his manager was behind this intimidation too.
Still refusing to surrender to Jeffery and revive his golden goose, the Experience, Jimi formed the Band of Gypsys. At their premiere Madison Square Garden gig in January of 1970, Jimi collapsed on stage after only a few songs. Buddy Miles insisted he’d seen Jeffery slip him two tabs of bad acid. ‘He didn’t want Jimi playing in an all black band,’ the Gypsys’ drummer declared. ‘One of the biggest reasons why Jimi is dead is because of that guy.’
Later that summer, Hendrix escaped New York for London, telling his friend and future biographer, Sharon Lawrence, ‘Lately I’ve been thinking that I’m circled by wolves.”
By this time, terrified of Jeffery, the star was in secret negotiations with Miles Davis’s manager, Alan Douglas. Hearing through one of his informants in Jimi’s entourage of the possible defection, Jeffery accused Douglas of “trying to steal my artist.’
After his Isle of Wright performance, Jimi lay low in London trying to avoid Jeffery who had followed him there. Meanwhile, he finalized a new management deal with Douglas.
On the morning of September 17, Douglas phoned Hendrix’s New York lawyers, informing them that he would be relieving Jeffery of his management duties. Meaning, not only would Jeffery lose his cash cow, his nemesis Douglas would, in taking over the books, discover his embezzlement and mismanagement over the years. Meaning the end of Jeffery’s career, if not imprisonment.
The next morning an ambulance, called by an unidentified party, screamed to the Samarkand Hotel where Hendrix was staying with his girlfriend, Monika Danneman. The paramedics found the door open, the flat abandoned, and a body on the bed covered in vomit.
Dr. John Bannister, the physician on duty at St Mary Abbot’s hospital when the ambulance arrived, later testified: ‘Jimi Hendrix had been dead for some time… Red wine was coming out of his nose and out of his mouth. It was horrific.’ He described how he tried to clear the singer’s windpipe with an 18-inch metal sucker, but finally gave up due to the inexhaustible volume of liquid.
‘Someone apparently poured red wine down Jimi’s throat to intentionally cause asphyxiation after first causing barbiturate intoxication,’ Dr. Bannister concluded. ‘Without the ability to cough he was easily drowned.’
Waterboarding and Forced Ingestion were commonly used by MI6 and other intelligence agents during the Cold War. It was a preferred interrogation or assassination technique since it left no marks on the body.
Almost no alcohol was found in Hendrix’s blood. Moreover, friends stated that he didn’t drink red wine.
The coroner, Dr. Gavin Thurslon, listed the cause of death as ‘inhalation of vomit following barbiturate intoxication.’ As for the cause of this fatal condition itself, the pathologist left an “’open verdict.’
The paramedics, doctors, and hospital staff did not learn that the victim was Jimi Hendrix until later on. To them the body seemed to be just that of another anonymous black man who had OD’d.
Within hours of Jimi’s death, all his hotel rooms and crash pads in London as well as New York were turned over: clothes, instruments, writings, drugs — everything vanished. An investigation was not launched until twenty-three years later when all evidence was long gone.
Noel Redding, who died all but penniless in 2003, wrote that murder was ‘a distinct possibility.’
In his 2009 title, ‘Rock Roadie,’ James Wright wrote that Jeffrey, his employer, confessed to the murder in 1971. ‘That son of a bitch was going to leave me,’ the manager said. ‘If I lost him, I’d lose everything.’
Instead, he gained a fortune: his management contract was renewed by default, he reaped the immense profits of posthumous record sales, and he collected on a $2 million dollar insurance policy which he had taken out on the star.
Michael Jeffery reportedly perished in a mysterious plane crash over France in 1973. But his remains were never found. Eric Burdon, Noel Redding, and others believe he may have checked luggage but slipped away during the boarding process. Jeffery was due in London court the very next day to defend himself in several huge lawsuits relating to his embezzlement, money laundering, and fraud.”
Article written by Eric Comfort for The Wrap