Monday, 9 May 2016

Prince, Jimi Hendrix and Warner Brothers

 It's funny the way most people love the dead. Once you are dead, you are made for life. Jimi Hendrix 

While researching parallels between Prince and Jimi Hendrix, I became aware that both men, at the time of their death had contracts with Warner Brothers.

Michael Jeffrey
 In a 2009 book James Tappy Wright claimed that Hendrix's manager had a $2 million life insurance policy out on Hendrix, it transpired that it was Warner Brothers who had the policy, Hendrix's UK manager Michael Jeffrey's signature was on the policy, but only as Hendrix's representative. Bob Levine was Hendrix's manager in the USA, and he disputed many of Wright's claims:

"Michael signed an insurance policy on Jimi that the record company took out, and Jimi was aware of this. But that's standard. Frank Sinatra was insured by Reprise for millions of dollars. That's how business is done. Record companies take out insurance policies on major artists all the time. But it was nothing ruthless or dastardly on Michael Jeffrey's part. This is Tappy rewriting history." Bob Levine, Hendrix's US manager.  Source 

Hendrix signed a contract with Yamenta,  a Warner Brothers holding company which had been set up by his manager Michael Jeffrey amongst others, MGM provided the initial funding to set it up.  As we will see, the Hendrix heirs are still trying to untangle the complexities of the Yameta contract.

 Yameta served another function as well – as the production company (ostensibly Jeffrey's) that originally was contracted by Warner Bros, to provide Hendrix's records. Even after that recording contract was renegotiated and Warners began dealing directly with Hendrix, all royalty checks – as well as some European performance fees – were sent to Hendrix care of Yameta's Bahamian address. Source
  "Hendrix's management deal was through a company Jeffrey had cofounded called Yameta. Based in the Bahamas, Yameta was a confusing maze of holding companies handled by frontmen, money-juggling bankers, political power brokers and other slippery sorts. Under his arrangement with Yameta, Hendrix surrendered a whopping forty percent of his gross income to the offshore company." Source
Five weeks before Hendrix died he filmed Rainbow Bridge in Maui, Hawaii, WB had initially put up the $450,000 funding for the film, however when they seen the film they were pissed at the content, they wanted Hendrix to talk about Revolution, and to urge viewers to stage a revolution, Hendrix instead talked about out of body experiences, meditation, the third eye etc, they demanded their money back, and they got their money back, however they regained control of The Rainbow Bridge album recorded by Hendrix, and they released it after his death, many of the tracks on the album were unfinished.
 At this time negotiations were being held directly with Mo Ostin the then President of Warner Brothers. Source. Ostin was also responsible for signing Prince in 1977.

Leo Branton
 After Hendrix died his father Al Hendrix hired Los Angels lawyer Leo Branton to act on his behalf. 

Branton managed to acquire ownership and control of all Hendrix's material, images, video footage etc. He set up a complex myriad of companies, many of them off-shore to manage Hendrix's estate.  
It is thanks to the hard work of Leo Branton the the estate was preserved.
Alan Douglas helped Branton run the Hendrix estate, Microsoft wanted to buy the estate, they first set about demonizing Branton and Douglas, they then paid them millions to relinquish their contracts with Al Hendrix.

Al Hendrix

 Al's modest needs were to be taken care of for the rest of his life.
legal battles between 1992-1995 seen control of the estate handed back to Al, at this point I am not sure exactly what role Microsoft have in the running of the estate now, if I find out I will elaborate


Janie Hendrix

In 1995 The company "Experience Hendrix" was formed and they now claim sole ownership of all Hendrix material. I am not sure if that is strictly true.
 Al Hendrix died in 2002, he willed control of the Hendrix estate to Janie and her cousin Robert Hendrix, Robert died in 2012.
Jimi's brother Leon did not inherit any of the estate, bar a gold record.

 If you try to purchase a Hendrix album on iTunes today , the material is owned by Experience Hendrix, but Licensed to Sony. In 1973 Warner Brothers released a Jimi Hendrix film, the film has since been digitally remastered, and WB have sole ownership of it.

 During the period that Branton had control of the Hendrix estate WB licensed Hendrix material from one of his subsidiary companies.

"Initially, Branton began making some strategic moves for the Hendrix estate, selling off Jimi's stake in New York's Electric Lady recording studios and sorting out a stack of lawsuits. 
He decided to avoid digging into the Yameta mess and, armed mostly with righteous indignation, forged ahead with other plans. After Branton wrested back all of the estate's assets, its holdings included the remainder of the Warner Bros. recording contract, music-publishing copyrights and rights to all unmastered tapes. 
Packaging these elements together, Branton brokered their sale to Presentaciones Musicales S.A., a Panamanian corporation originally founded as a holding company for his late client Nat Cole and jazz producer Norman Granz." Source Rolling Stone

In the aftermath of Hendrix's death a number of albums were released posthumously, including Rainbow Bridge, Various record labels released albums after he died, numerous record labels and distributing companies all had a finger in the pie.

In 2004 Purple Haze records released a video of Jimi Hendrix in concert in Stockholm, Experience Hendrix tried to claim ownership, Purple Haze claims they acquired the licence to publish from John A Hillman. Hillman was a founder and controller of Yameta. Purple Haze claim that Hendrix's contract with Yameta were valid and binding at the time of his death, and when he died the rights to his work was transferred to Hillman, who still retains control. 

When the Hendrix family took control of Hendrix's estate from Branton in 1995, it was reported that Branton had acquired all rights to Hendrix material, it would seem that this was not the case, according to this report, Purple Haze can show all legal documents concerning the transfer of Hendrix's contracted material with Yameta to Hillman, and the subsequent licence from Hillman. When this article was published in 2004, Experience Hendrix were unable to show any legal documentation to prove their claim of ownership of the concert footage.  
 Purple Haze Records claim they own the rights to the Hendrix Stockholm concert and have released a CD of the show. "On 1st December 1966, James Marshall Hendrix, known as Jimi Hendrix, signed a contract with Yameta Co Ltd" Lawrence from Purple Haze Records tells Undercover News. "This contract was for all activities including performance, recording, writing, production and all media within the entertainment business. In 1975, after Hendrix died, the rights that belonged to Yameta Co Ltd were transferred to John A Hillman, who had set up Yameta and ran the company throughout. The license given to Purple Haze Records Ltd is directly from John A Hillman, formerly (c) (p) Yameta Co Ltd, the rightful owner of all Hendrix material".

Purple Haze claim they went out of their way to clear the issue before the release of the album. "We have invited Reed Wasson (the Attorney for Experience Hendrix LLC) and Eversheds (UK Solicitors for Experience Hendrix LLC) to show proof of title for the Jimi Hendrix rights from 1st December 1966, when Jimi Hendrix signed a contract of employment with Yameta Co Ltd. Experience Hendrix LLC has refused to show any proof of title for the Jimi Hendrix rights. Reed Wasson has refused to show any proof of title for the Jimi Hendrix rights. Eversheds has refused to show any proof of title for the Jimi Hendrix rights. Purple Haze Records Ltd has invited the above parties 10 times to show proof of title. They have refused" Purple Haze claim.

The Hendrix Stockholm Concert was released last month in the UK. Source

 The question remained: who owned Yameta? If Jeffrey and the members of the Experience were employees, who were the employers? John Hillman in London, of course, and possibly Sir Guy Henderson and Ralph Seligman in Nassau, all members of the Yameta board. But who did they answer to? Some say Yameta was owned by Caicos Trust Company, Ltd., still another tax haven, named for one of the smaller Bahama Islands. And what was Caicos? No one was talking. Source Rolling Stone  1976

In 1992 Rolling Stone reported that Warner Brothers had full control of Hendrix's catalogue, so clearly Branton did not have full ownership of all Hendrix's material, also note the image of Hendrix used in the article is owned by Getty Images. 
Despite the 1995 claims that the Hendrix family had regained full control of all things Hendrix, it would seem that this was not true, and Experience Hendrix is set for years of legal battles regarding ownership of Hendrix music, images footage etc. Source
This report also details:
Last November, (1991) the enduring commercial legacy of Jimi Hendrix was apparent when the late guitar god finally received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
The bittersweet tribute attracted more than a hundred fans to the seedy corner of Hollywood Boulevard and Cherokee Avenue, near the spot where the $4800 pavement pentagram – sponsored and paid for by Warner Bros. Records – was unveiled by the district's chamber of commerce. Source
After the Star ceremony Warner hosted an after party, Jimi's bother Leon commented at the party:
"What I really want to know," said Leon, "is why my father was the sole beneficiary to Jimi's estate and he's getting a mere pittance?"
It is clear from the above information, that in the years since his death a great many corporations and individuals have got rich of Jimi Hendrix, the illusive Yameta would appear to have made untold millions of him, before and after his death, and it is still not clear where the money that passed to Yameta went.

This blog set out to chronicle how Prince and Jimi were contracted to Warner Brothers when they died, Warner Brothers have profited handsomely from both deaths, In the case of Hendrix they have to be in the top ten at least, of the people who profited most. 


 In 1996 Prince's contract with WB ended, while still under contract to them, he was often seen with “SLAVE” written on his face, he released the album “Emancipation” after his contract ended. He frequently advised other artists not to “sign” with any of the major labels. When his contract ended WB retained ownership and control of much of Prince's material.

 On April 14, 2016 he played the Fox theatre Atlanta, he was so ill after the gig that his private jet had to make an emergency landing. Airport staff reported that he was "unresponsive", translated, no vital signs...DEAD!  The jet he was travelling on was owned by Warren Buffett! LINK
Two years previous, to the day, April 14, 2014, Billboard magazine reported that Prince had done a deal with Warner Brothers, part of the deal meant that Prince regained his catalogue, although WB still somehow had the licence on ALL of his earlier work and his 2014 album.

This LINK is to Prince's music on iTunes, all available tracks are licensed to WB!

Left: Screen shot taken from iTunes, WB still have the licence on Prince's music!

Neither Prince or WB were prepared to make public the details of the deal.

So at the time of his death, he was in some kind of contract with WB, at this time the nature of the deal is still unknown, and it is unknown just how much money WB are likely to make from his premature death.

Who said that Prince had AID's? 
Who said that Prince was a drug addict?
Who showed footage of Prince on a bicycle, supposedly shot the day before he died?
Who said he was seen at the local pharmacy the day before he died?
TMZ said it, no named sources were given for the information, yet the world press, without a trace of due diligence, repeated it all without looking for one bit of collaborating evidence.
Go figure as they say! Credit for the TMZ/Warner link, Dick Gregory

In an interview a few years ago, Prince was asked if he ever just went out and done "normal" things. He replied that the last time he just ventured out to the local Mall, he was followed out by 400 people, so he did not do stuff like that any more.

In the week following his death, Billboard reported that 4 million Prince Albums and singles had been downloaded, all the downloaded singles and albums are licensed to WB!

Source: Billboard magazine

Now I do not understand the legalities of the music industry, but I think it is safe to say that a record company that has a licence on a particular single or album gets a cut of each sale! 

It is 46 years since Hendrix died, and it is unfathomable just how much the various parasites have made of his genius, I think it is safe to assume though that Warner has to of be in the top ten of corporations who have profited of him.
With the licensing agreement that Prince made with Warner, it would seem that they will also be profiting from his death for many decades to come. 
At this stage executors have to be appointed for Prince's estate, and no one knows what contracts he had and with whom.  

 I will leave you all with this short video, it is Dick Gregory's take on the death of Prince, and he appears to have come to the same conclusions that I have arrived at.

Sandra Barr
Link: My death of a Prince blog which details events surround Prince's death, including the Queens 90th birthday, and the Palmyra Arch being erected in London just prior to Prince's death 
Link: This is a detailed look at the parallels surrounding the lives and deaths of Prince and Jimi Hendrix .  It also examines the Simpson's episode where Homer killed Prince, Prince was then shown in heaven with Jimi Hendrix.
 Link: Rolling Stone interview with Chuck Wein (The Wizard) 26 October 1972, discussing the making of Rainbow Bridge. 
Link Rolling Stone 1976 who all owned Hendrix

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