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Court rules Noel Redding and Mitch Mitchell estates can sue for Jimi Hendrix Experience album royalties

 The Jimi Hendrix Experience.
The Jimi Hendrix Experience.

The estates of Noel Redding and Mitch Mitchell can sue Sony Music Entertainment for royalties pertaining to the albums they recorded with the Jimi Hendrix Experience, following a ruling at London’s High Court.

Both Redding and Mitchell had signed their rights away to their recordings with The Jimi Hendrix Experience, with Redding receiving $100,000 in 1973, and Mitchell $247,500 in ’74. Redding died in 2003, Mitchell in 2008, and their estates subsequently set up to companies to pursue royalties.

Reuters reports that the judge Michael Green ruled that their case could be heard, with a full trial expected in 2025. Representing the Noel Redding Estate Ltd and Mitch Mitchell Estate Ltd, Lawrence Abramson, solicitor and partner at Keystone Law, said no one was disputing Hendrix’s greatness, but argued he could not do it alone.

“No one is denying that Jimi Hendrix was one of, if not, the greatest guitarist of all time,” said Abramson. “But he didn't make his recordings alone and they could not have achieved any success without the contributions of Noel and Mitch”

Redding and Mitchell were drafted into the Jimi Hendrix Experience in 1966. Mitchell had a rep as a session drummer, auditioned and as legend has it got the gig on a coin toss. Redding was originally a guitarist but made the transition to bass guitar to join the band.

The trio recorded three albums together: Are You Experienced? and Axis: Bold As Love both arriving in 1967, with Electric Ladyland released the following year. Hendrix was very much the principal songwriter, with some notable exceptions.

She’s So Fine and Little Miss Strange, which were written and sung by Redding, with Mitchell sharing lead vocals on the latter. Redding quit the Experience in 1969. Mitchell stayed on with Hendrix, who died aged 27 on 18 September 1970.

The London ruling is the latest twist over the contested rights of Jimi Hendrix Experience recordings. In January 2022, Rolling Stone reported that the estate of Jimi Hendrix and Sony Music filed a lawsuit in Manhattan to preemptively stave off any copyright claims made by the estates of Redding and Mitchell.

The move followed a cease-and-desist sent by Abramson on half of Redding and Mitchell’s estates that claimed Sony Music liable for performance royalties for streaming (a figure reported at the time as “in the millions of pounds”, for around three billion streams and counting). And it put in motion this hearing.

That all three artists have sadly passed away and the music industry has changed beyond recognition in the interim years only serves to complicate matters. The ongoing legal wrangles over the Jimi Hendrix Experience royalties will surely not be the last of its kind.