Jimi Hendrix murder theory 'plausible' says ER doctor
The doctor who attempted to revive legendary guitarist Jimi Hendrix on the night he died has said it is "plausible" that he was murdered. By Aislinn Simpson
20 Jul 2009
John Bannister, the on-call registrar at the now closed St Mary Abbots Hospital in Kensington, said in an interview that the patient seemed to have "drowned" in a large amount of red wine.
The account fits with one given by James "Tappy" Wright, a 65-year-old former road manager who worked for Hendrix's manager Mike Jeffrey. Wright has claimed in a new book that indebted Jeffrey had taken out a $2m life-insurance policy on the star amid concerns about his increased drug-taking, and that he told him Hendrix was "worth more to him dead than alive".
He alleges that Jeffrey confessed to him that he had ordered the killing a month before his death in a plane crash.
The official version of Hendrix's death at the age of 27 is that he died from choking on vomit after a drugs overdose.
Wright's version is that Hendrix was killed on the orders of Jeffrey by a gang who broke into his hotel room and forced wine and painkillers down his throat until he drowned. Mr Bannister, 67, said he had no idea who Hendrix was when he arrived early on the morning of September 18, 1970, but remembers being perplexed by his height.
“He was hanging over the table we had him on by about ten inches,” he told The Times newspaper.
He said he fought to resuscitate him but there was no hope of survival.
"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. “Somebody said to me ‘You know who that was?. That was Jimi Hendrix’ and, of course, I said, ‘Who’s Jimi Hendrix?’.”
He said that Wright's description, in his memoir Rock Roadster, of Hendrix's demise "sounded plausible because of the volume of 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," he said.
"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. He had really drowned in a massive amount of red wine.”
Bannister now lives in Sydney and worked as a doctor until 1992 when he was deregistered for fraudulent conduct.