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When we mention the Hendrix name, many recall Jimi, the iconic guitarist whose tunes echo today. Behind the scenes, Janie Jinka aka Janie Hendrix (Jimi Hendrix step-sister) has been pivotal in safeguarding his legacy. After the 2002 passing of their father, Al Hendrix, who established Experience Hendrix and Authentic Hendrix in 1995, Janie took the helm, ensuring Jimi’s music endured.


In interviews Janie gave a few years back, she recalled the early days after Hendrix’s death on September 18, 1970, (due to asphyxia while intoxicated with barbiturates) and the challenges faced by the Hendrix family. From copyright issues to unauthorized merchandise being sold, the challenges seemed endless.

 

Ayako “June” and Janie Jinka early years

 

Jimi Hendrix’s stepmother, Ayako “June” Hendrix, was a remarkable woman who contributed greatly to the well-being of her family. June’s life took another significant turn when she met James “Al” Hendrix, the father of the iconic guitarist, Jimi Hendrix. They married in 1966, and June warmly embraced Al’s children from his previous marriage. Moreover, she convinced him to adopt her youngest child, Janie Jinka, also known as Janie Hendrix.

June relationship with Jimi was cordial and familial. They developed a close bond, and Jimi was particularly pleased to have a younger step-sister in Janie.

 

The long fight over Jimi Hendrix’s legacy

Alan Douglas era

When the world lost Jimi Hendrix in 1970, it wasn’t just the music community that felt the void. A series of battles over the rights to his influential work began, marring the preservation of his artistic essence. The first controversial era was the Alan Douglas era. Entrusted with posthumous Hendrix releases, Douglas’s methodologies were frequently scrutinized.

Two prime examples, “Crash Landing” and “Midnight Lightning” from 1975, were particularly contentious. Douglas introduced these albums with overdubbed sections by studio musicians, sidelining and even replacing original contributions from Hendrix’s band members. The original recordings underwent significant alterations, with new musicians playing bass, drums, and even guitar parts.

For numerous fans and critics, this approach was perceived as a distortion and unjust commercialization of Jimi’s creations. These albums were later re-released in versions more faithful to Hendrix’s original recordings after the rights reverted to the Hendrix family.

 

Jimi Hendrix rights battles

The journey of Jimi Hendrix’s legacy has been labyrinthine, punctuated by complex rights battles. Diverse contractual obligations from his lifetime—stemming from varied record label agreements in the U.S. and U.K.—brought inconsistencies in album releases. Additionally, Hendrix’s multiple management deals further convoluted rights claims. Beyond the industry, familial disputes arose. Claims from alleged illegitimate children added layers of complexity, contesting inheritance rights. Moreover, members of his iconic band, The Jimi Hendrix Experience, had their own perspectives and stakes in the legacy.

 

Jimi Hendrix Estate returning to the family

The turning point was the return to the family in the 1990s. Following extended legal confrontations, Jimi’s father, Al Hendrix, reclaimed his son’s heritage. By 1995, he initiated Experience Hendrix, L.L.C., setting the course straight for more authentic posthumous releases.

Upon Al’s death in 2002, the stewardship of Jimi’s assets and rights to his name transitioned to his adopted daughter, Janie Jinka. As reported by Rolling Stone, in 2004, Leon Hendrix, Jimi’s younger brother, challenged this arrangement, seeking a stake in the estate. Nevertheless, by 2007, a court verdict upheld Al’s will, keeping the rights with Experience Hendrix LLC.

Despite the legal mandate, Leon ventured into selling merchandise through Hendrix Licensing, leading to a 2009 lawsuit initiated by Janie. A 2015 injunction curtailed Leon’s endeavors, barring him from leveraging registered trademarks linked to Jimi Hendrix. Although damages were due for copyright breaches, a private settlement was brokered between the siblings.

In a twist, 2021 saw Leon, alongside his daughter Tina, defying the earlier injunction by inaugurating the Hendrix Music Academy. This move cost them legal penalties, a mandated school renaming, and the removal of any merchandise showcasing the iconic guitarist.

Amidst all the chaos, Janie has been the anchor. She’s made sure Jimi’s genius doesn’t get lost in the shuffle. Because of her, we can still jam to Jimi’s tunes the way he meant them to be. Hats off to Janie for keeping the legend alive and kicking! She also spearheaded numerous initiatives aimed at reintroducing Jimi to newer generations. From remastered albums to documentaries and educational programs, Janie made sure that Jimi’s message was not lost in time.

 

What did Janie Hendrix think about the death of Jimi Hendrix?

 

Almost eighty years after his birth, Janie Hendrix, sheds light on the man behind the legend. Speaking from Seattle, Janie believes her brother was on the brink of evolving his musical style before his untimely death. As per conversations with their father, Al Hendrix, Jimi envisioned a “new kind of music”, hinting at a more expansive band arrangement with added horns and percussion. Discussions even veered towards collaboration with the rock band Chicago.

I just hope that maybe one day we’ll find what really happened,” she says. But rather than focus on his death, Janie would rather celebrate his life. “There are so many young artists that are inspired by Jimi,” she adds.

Sadly, the world will never experience this evolution. Yet, Janie ensures that the Hendrix magic lives on.

For those wondering if Janie Hendrix spent time with Jimi Hendrix, see the photos of the two of them together below.


 

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