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Townsend Adds Legal Track to New Hendrix Bio

Author and longtime OW&E client, Jas Obrecht, has written an important new biography of guitar legend, Jimi Hendrix, entitled Stone Free: Jimi Hendrix in London, September 1966 – June 1967. Published by the University of North Carolina Press, the book chronicles a single critically-formative and creatively-prodigious year from 1966 – when Hendrix was unknown and barely surviving in New York before suddenly being whisked off to London – to the summer of 1967 at the Monterey Pop Festival, where his still-unmatched guitar mastery and exciting performance style launched him forever into the constellation of rock’s brightest stars.

On the not-so-bright side, Hendrix signed several recording, publishing, and management agreements that were, to say the least, ill-advised, and they became an endless source of legal wrangling, lawsuits, and headaches for the artist. The author asked his own publishing lawyer, OW&E’s Larry Townsend, to review the contracts and provide commentary on each of them to give readers some legal perspective. Townsend had this to say about the earliest such contract:

“To say Hendrix could have benefited from legal advice before signing the P.P.X. contract would be gross understatement. Instead, it’s as if he was guided by forces he would later describe as ‘butterflies and zebra… moonbeams and fairy tales.’ For one dollar and one percent of sales of all records produced, Hendrix agreed to ‘produce and play and/or sing exclusively for PPX’ for three years beginning in 1965 in what would prove to be one of the most remarkable five-year runs of creative and performing output in music history. A Rorschach Test for the courts, was it a shackling three-year contract for a studio session musician and arranger where he’s on call by P.P.X. at any time on ‘ten (10) days notice,’ or could it be worse?  Might it cover all of his own creative recording efforts for the next three years? Questions such as these would keep lawyers busy for years, starting with P.P.X. suing Hendrix, his management, and his new label Reprise.”

Author Jas Obrecht is an award-winning music journalist and former editor of Guitar Player magazine. He has written for Rolling StoneLiving Blues, and many other publications. His numerous books include Talking Guitar: Conversations with Musicians Who Shaped Twentieth-Century American Music

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