The Swarm

July 20, 2007

Gnarls Jimi: Cee-Lo Green acquires infamous Jimi Hendrix masters

TDS Editors

With Summer of Love nostalgia in full swing, the spirit, adoration and the legal consternation surrounding Jimi Hendrix and his music remains very much alive. The Daily Swarm can exclusively reveal details of a newly-inked deal that will bring long-lost Jimi Hendrix material back into the mix, courtesy of Atlanta hip-hop impresario Cee-Lo Green and his newly launched label, Radiculture Records. The label, along with sample clearance company Alien Music Services, will offer these masters – some shelved for 15 years – as licenses for film, TV and special projects. They also plan utilize the recordings for an as-yet-titled project featuring contemporary producers, likely to include Cee-Lo himself and other Atlanta based hip-hop producers like OutKast and Goodie Mob.

“When I first heard these masters, I was floored,” says Danny Zook, GM for Cee-Lo’s God Given Music and head of Alien Music Services. “Cee-Lo combined with Hendrix are the two most out-of-the-box artists of all time. Cee-Lo’s one of the first artists in years to take himself out of every category, and put himself in every category. Hendrix was everything, as well. With this project, the possibilities are endless.”

The masters are part of a 1973 settlement with the Hendrix Estate, which were held by Ed Chalpin, the Brill Building-era producer responsible for Hendrix’s first record deal and subsequent session recordings. Hendrix, while playing guitar in chitlin-circuit band leader Curtis Knight’s band, The Squires, signed a contract with Chalpin’s PPX Enterprises. Hendrix, thinking very little of the deal apparently, signed to a $1 and 1% royalty agreement binding him exclusively for 3 years.

The 33 master recordings include two important studio sessions recorded at Chalpin’s Studio 76. The tracks, including “Ballad of Jimi,” “Knock Yourself Out,” and “How Would You Feel,” were recorded in October and December of 1965, just months before being “discovered” in London by Chas Chandler and the formation of the Jimi Hendrix Experience. Chalpin, who also manages the estate of former Hendrix manager Michael Jeffery (who some claim faked his own death), was sued in 2006 over royalty debts due to the Hendrix estate. According to a spokesperson for Experience Hendrix, representatives of the estate, Chalpin settled the suit for nearly $900,000 earlier this year.

Future use of these masters are bound by limitations set forth in the 1973 UK court ruling, requiring Chalpin to pay a royalty of 1–2% of retail to the estate and prevents him from entering into additional licenses without Experience Hendrix’s consent. Chalpin must also hand over any other Hendrix masters other than those outlined in the agreement. Apparently, there were other session recordings featuring Hendrix that Chalpin has exploited over the years, trading upon the Hendrix legend and image. Some of these recordings were released through various labels, billed as Hendrix recordings “with Curtis Knight” while others have never seen the light of day.

The origin of the deal with Radiculture arose from Alien Music Service’s work clearing a sample from the Curtis Knight recording “Sea of Time” for producer Cut Chemist’s track “What’s the Altitude.” Chalpin mentioned the existing Knight/Hendrix masters to Alien.

In related news, rumors continue to swirl about a new Hendrix biopic in the works. The film’s production company, however, has gotten on the wrong side of the Hendrix estate. Recently, Elvier Von Lear, Managing Director of Dragonslayer Films, accused representatives of the Hendrix estate, Experience Hendrix, of “aim(ing) to mislead and confuse the findings of the UK court as well as denigrate John Hillman’s position.” John Hillman is the British attorney representative for the company Yameta, a Bahamian tax shelter, formed with Michael Jeffrey, late manager to Hendrix, that according to Dragonslayer, owns Hendrix’ image and likeness as well as a large portion of the publishing and licensing. Last year, British high court ruled that Dragonslayer does not have the right to Hendrix’ music or likeness granted by Hillman and must receive permission from Experience Hendrix, run by the late guitarist’s daughter Janie, to make such a film. Lately, names like Andre 3000 and director Quentin Tarantino have been linked to the film. While Andre 3000 expressed his interest, he has not confirmed his involvement. Tarantino has continued to deny these rumors, even while Dragonslayer reported his connection in a press release.

Last week, Dragonslayer Films announced they were producing a documentary entitled Hendrix, Hillman and Havoc. No word on if Cee-lo is doing the soundtrack.

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