Court rules the estates of Jimi Hendrix’s bassist and drummer can sue Sony over album rights
London’s High Court declared on Monday that the estates of bassist Noel Redding and drummer Mitch Mitchell can now sue Sony in order to receive a share of the recording copyrights of three classic Jimi Hendrix albums, Reuters reports.
The ruling comes two years after both the Noel Redding Estate Ltd and Mitch Mitchell Estate Ltd initially sued Sony Music Entertainment back in 2022. As Reuters notes, Sony originally believed the case was a done deal, considering both Redding and Mitchell had signed away their rights back in the ‘70s. Redding had received $100,000 in 1973, with Mitchell also receiving $247,500 the following year to withdraw their respective lawsuits seeking their fair share of rights.
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However, Judge Michael Green has ruled that the estates’ lawsuits should be pushed forward for a full trial, which will potentially take place in 2025.
In the era of reissuing, greatest hits compilations and digital streaming, Hendrix’s legacy is more lucrative than ever. As a result, the estates believe that the modern musical landscape has rendered the initial agreements signed in the ’70s obsolete.
Redding and Mitchell joined The Jimi Hendrix Experience in 1966, going on to perform on all three of Hendrix’s legendary studio albums, Are You Experienced, Axis: Bold As Love and Electric Ladyland – but there are now many more reworked records bearing Hendrix’s name, and Redding and Mitchell’s work by extension.
The two estates claimed that Redding and Mitchell are owed a share of the royalties, arguing that the pair “have not been compensated for their work and both died in relative poverty.”
As The Guardian reports, the estates are looking to claim the same copyright share as the original 25/25/50 split that Redding, Mitchell and Hendrix agreed to back in the ‘60s. The lawsuit aims to attain the revenue the estates have lost over the years, as well as interest, compensation for damages and legal costs.
The original plans to sue over royalties came shortly before Redding’s death in 2003. As Redding’s manager Ian Grant told the BBC after the bassist’s passing, Redding had played “a major part in ’60s rock ‘n’ roll but had signed away royalties for $100,000 (£62,000) years after Hendrix’s death.”
“Noel told me, ‘Ian, if I do win $5m I’ll only give it away.’ And I’m sure he would have done,” Grant said. “It wasn’t about the money. He had been denied his rights every which way.”
Lawrence Abramson, a lawyer representing the two estates in court, commented: “No one is denying that Jimi Hendrix was one of, if not, the greatest guitarist of all time. But he didn’t make his recordings alone and they could not have achieved any success without the contributions of Noel and Mitch.”
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