The most common legend surrounding Hendrix’s passing have always included these three infamous stories. One, that he died of a heroin overdose. Two, that he committed suicide and three, that he chocked on his own vomit.
The verdict is still open on Hendrix’s death, and here’s why.
Hendrix was dating a few different women at the time of his passing. The last person to see Hendrix alive was girlfriend Monika Dannemann, a German figure skater. Her account of what took place both on the evening of September 17 and the morning of September 18 has changed more than ten times.
Her most prominent claim is that after she and Hendrix had left a friend’s place, they returned to Dannemann’s apartment, where she prepared a meal of tuna fish sandwiches that the pair ate while sharing a 750-millilitre bottle of white wine.
Dannemann then alleges that she and Hendrix went to sleep sometime between 4 and 7 a.m. after Hendrix had taken nine of Dannemann’s Vasparax sleeping pills.
At 10:20 a.m., Dannemann says she awoke with Hendrix still alive and breathing normally beside her. She then got up and went to the store to buy a package of cigarettes. Returning at 11 a.m., Dannemann says that Hendrix was still alive but unresponsive so she called for paramedics.
Here’s what the paramedics and doctors at the scene and hospital had to say about the morning of Hendrix’s death.
Paramedic John Saua:
“I mean, the vomit was dry and there was a hell of a lot of it. We knew it was hopeless. There was no pulse, no respiration. There was nobody but the body on the bed, we had to radio for the police from the van, and we couldn’t touch anything in the flat. As I say we knew he was gone, he was on top of the bed dressed, but I didn’t recognize him.”
Paramedic Reg Jones:
“Well, it was horrific. We arrived at the flat and the door was flung wide open. Nobody about, just the body on the bed. He was covered in vomit. There was tons of it all over the pillow, black and brown it was. A substance that seemed to be red wine was all over his clothes, sheets and at least a litre was soaked into his hair. Well, we had to get the police. We only had an empty flat, so John Saua ran up and radioed and got the aspirator too. We took him to St. Mary Abbotts.”
Dr. John Bannister (who attended to Hendrix) concluded:
“Jimi Hendrix had been dead for some time… Red wine was coming out of his nose and out of his mouth. It was horrific. Someone had to poured red wine down his throat to intentionally cause asphyxiation after first causing barbiturate intoxication. Without the ability to cough he was easily drowned.”
Dr. Martin Seifert (emergency room doctor who attended to Hendrix):
“I never spoke to, or saw, anyone about Jimi. No woman in admissions. No nurse went out to say we’d revived him because we didn’t – that just never happened. We didn’t work on him anything like an hour, just a few minutes. He was dead.”
In 1990, a close friend of Hendrix’s, Kathy Ethchingham and writer Michael Fairchild came together to investigate what had happened the last night and morning of his life. What they have uncovered is mind boggling.
An important mention is that Hendrix’s blood alcohol level was extremely low, about a half a pint of beer. No drugs other than Vasparax and marijuana were found in his system. Even more crucial is that Dannemann has changed the food she prepared many times, from a sandwich to spaghetti and meat balls. In one story she gave Hendrix the Vasparax, the next she woke up and had no idea he had even taken any medication and apparently realized after stepping on pills that were on her floor. Another significant claim is that she had been with him in the ambulance and at the hospital with Hendrix’s family… none of this seems to be true.
Jimi Hendrix was 27 years old.