Heirs of Jimi Hendrix’s bandmates sue Sony Music over Jimi Hendrix Experience royalties

The Jimi Hendrix Experience
(Image credit: Rolls Press/Popperfoto via Getty Images)

The heirs of bass guitar player Noel Redding and drummer Mitch Mitchell – who both played in the Jimi Hendrix Experience – have sued Sony Music in British court, alleging copyright infringement.

It comes after Hendrix’s estate – Experience Hendrix, LLC – filed a preemptive lawsuit last month, which sought to exonerate them from any legal action the Mitchell and Redding estates could potentially take to claim historic royalties.

The latest filing alleges that both Redding and Mitchell are owed streaming and digital media revenue as they both have a stake in the Jimi Hendrix Experience’s music catalog.

The legal dispute began after Sony received a letter from British attorney Lawrence Abramson, working on behalf of the Redding and Mitchell estates, which claimed that both were owed performance royalties for around 3 billion streams of the band’s material.

In response, Experience Hendrix filed its preemptive lawsuit, with lawyer Dorothy Weber claiming that both Redding and Mitchell had signed documents in 1973 and 1974, respectively, in which they released the Hendrix estate from legal claims and agreed not to sue the estate in the future.

As per Variety, a pre-action letter from representatives for the Redding and Mitchell estates disputes this, with the suit saying the contracts in question do not “operate as a bar to our clients’ claims."

The pre-action letter also notes the previously signed documentation does not cover streaming rights or digital media revenue – something “none of the parties would have been able to foresee."

In essence, this latest development seeks to establish copyright ownership in the musical works, sound recordings and performers' rights, as well as a declaration as to whether there has been copyright infringement.

If the UK High Court finds that copyright infringement has occurred, it will also seek to declare legal costs, damages and an account of profits, plus interest.

The claim form filed by the lawyer of Redding and Mitchell’s estates can be viewed via Billboard.

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Matt Owen

Matt is a Staff Writer, writing for Guitar World, Guitarist and Total Guitar. He has a Masters in the guitar, a degree in history, and has spent the last 16 years playing everything from blues and jazz to indie and pop. When he’s not combining his passion for writing and music during his day job, Matt records for a number of UK-based bands and songwriters as a session musician.