One of the many legal battles over the money and music rights of late guitar legend Jimi Hendrix appears to be over, and it looks like his...
One of the many legal battles over the money and music rights of late guitar legend Jimi Hendrix appears to be over, and it looks like his half-brother Leon Hendrix loses this round.
The state Supreme Court on Wednesday declined to review the King County Superior Court case in which Leon Hendrix challenged his father’s will leaving control of the multimillion-dollar estate to his stepsister, Janie Hendrix.
“What this means is it’s done,” said Janie Hendrix’s attorney, John Wilson.
When Jimi Hendrix died without a will in 1970, his estate went to his father, Al Hendrix. When Al Hendrix died, he left control of the estimated $80 million estate to his adopted daughter Janie Hendrix, and he cut Leon Hendrix and several other relatives out of the will. Al Hendrix had adopted Janie as a child after he married her mother.
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Leon Hendrix and several other Hendrix relatives filed a lawsuit in King County Superior Court seeking to wrest control of the estate from Janie.
Leon Hendrix’s lawyers claimed that Janie Hendrix schemed for years to have Leon cut from their father’s will, taking advantage of Al Hendrix’s poor health, poor reading skills and naiveté to have Leon excised.
Janie Hendrix’s lawyers claimed her father left the estate to her management because he trusted her business judgment and had grown tired of funding Leon’s addictions.
In his ruling, Superior Court Judge Jeffrey Ramsdell upheld Al Hendrix’s last will — which was the first to exclude Leon — but he removed Janie from her trustee position, saying she’d abused her financial power. Leon Hendrix appealed the ruling to the state Appeals Court, which last year upheld the Superior Court ruling. He then asked the Supreme Court for a review, which was denied Wednesday.
Leon is Jimi’s half-brother through their mother. Their mother abandoned them, and they were raised by their father, who was described as abusive and neglectful in the trial.
Leon Hendrix is involved in another court battle, this one before the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.
At stake is the right to use Jimi Hendrix’s image to sell things, such as a specialty vodka called Hendrix Electric that Leon and his developer friend Craig Dieffenbach are marketing.
This case centers on whether the laws should apply to the star’s “publicity rights” or whether those rights should be granted in accordance with Washington state laws, where Janie’s company, Experience Hendrix LLC, is based.
New York laws favor the claims of the Leon Hendrix team while Washington laws would favor those of Janie Hendrix.
A U.S. District Court judge ruled in 2004 that Janie’s companies do not own the publicity rights to Jimi Hendrix’s name and likeness.
The judge found that because the will was probated in New York state at a time when publicity rights could not be passed down, those rights were not inherited by Janie.
She appealed to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, where the case was heard Tuesday and a decision is pending.
Christine Clarridge: 206-464-8983 or email@example.com