Hendrix Inquest Inconclusive

Not enough evidence to say for sure what motives were behind Jimi's death

Jimi Hendrix
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Jimi Hendrix
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LONDON — The inquest on Jimi Hendrix, held in London on Sept. 28th, closed with an open verdict. Coroner Gavin Thurston said there was insufficient evidence to prove that Hendrix had committed suicide. Similarly, the alternative verdict of accidental death was not reached because of lack of evidence. The coroner said: "The question why Hendrix took so many sleeping tablets cannot be safely answered." The official cause of death was from the inhalation of vomit following barbiturate intoxication.

The details of Hendrix's last hours became clear as Monika Danneman, the German girl in whose apartment Hendrix died, gave evidence before the coroner. Hendrix went to her apartment in the Samarkand Hotel in London at about 8:30 PM on Sept. 17th. "I cooked a meal," said Miss Danneman, "and we drank a bottle of white wine. He drank rather more of the wine than I did – but he was not a drinking man.

Jimi Hendrix, 1942-1970

"It was a very happy atmosphere. There was no arguing or stress. We were just listening to music and talking. At about 1:45 in the morning he told me he had to see some people. They were not friends of his but he wanted to show them he could cop. He did not like them. I dropped him off at a flat and then picked him up again at 3 AM. We went back to my flat and I made him a tunafish sandwich. We were in bed and just talking." She told the coroner that Hendrix had smoked grass when he had visited the flat. Then she said she took a sleeping pill at about 7 AM and woke up at about 10:20 AM.

"I couldn't sleep anymore. I wanted some cigarettes but as Jimi didn't like me going out without me telling him, I looked to see if he was awake. He was sleeping normally. Just before I was about to go out I looked at him again and there was sick on his nose and mouth. I tried to wake him up but couldn't. I then saw that he had taken some of my sleeping pills. They are German and called Vesperax. They are in packets of ten and I thought he had taken the lot but a policeman found one on the floor. He must have taken them shortly after I started to go to sleep. He would have had to get out of bed and go to a cupboard to get the tablets."

Miss Danneman phoned a friend to ask for advice before calling for an ambulance. "I thought that if the press knows he has gone to hospital and there is nothing wrong he will go mad."

During the 20 minutes it took the ambulance to arrive Miss Danneman checked Hendrix's pulse against her own and found no difference. Hendrix died in the ambulance on the way to hospital.

Miss Danneman said Hendrix was "not a careless man with drugs." She added: "He knew exactly what he could take and what he couldn't."

A pathologist, Professor Donald Teare, told the inquest that he had found no signs of drug addiction when he carried out the post mortem. "The normal signs are marks on hands and arms," he said. "Once there, they never go. In this case there were no marks whatsoever." Miss Danneman said that she had "never known him to take hard drugs."

Miss Danneman also said that Hendrix appeared to be very happy before he went to sleep for the last time. She stated: "He had no personal troubles. Business problems weren't worrying him because he knew what he wanted to do."

Jimi Hendrix Buried in Hometown

The five-page poem which Hendrix wrote to Miss Danneman shortly before he died was not mentioned at the inquest. Because of this it is possible that the inquest may be re-opened in the future. A police spokesman, who heard about the poem after the inquest had closed, said: "Had I known about the poem earlier I could have placed it with the coroner as evidence. As it is I have now informed the court about it. I cannot yet say whether further inquiries are necessary."

The complete contents of the poem are a secret to Miss Danneman and a few of her close friends, including Eric Burdon who says he'll use it as the climax to a film he plans to make about the life and death of a rock star. However, Miss Danneman has revealed the last lines of the poem.

Hendrix wrote: "The story of love is hello and goodbye . . . until we meet again."

This story is from the October 29th, 1970 issue of Rolling Stone.

From The Archives Issue 69: October 29, 1970