John Bannister said that medical evidence was consistent with claims in a book that Hendrix was killed on the orders of his manager, Mike Jeffery.
James “Tappy” Wright, a former road manager who worked for Jeffery, as previously reported writes in his new memoir, Rock Roadie, that in the early hours of September 18, 1970, a gang hired by Jeffery broke into the London hotel room where Hendrix was staying with his girlfriend, Monika Dannemann, and forced sleeping pills and wine down his throat until he drowned.
Mr Bannister was the on-call registrar at the now defunct St Mary Abbots Hospital in Kensington on the morning that Hendrix was brought in. He had no idea who the famous patient was but remembers that he was “very long”. Mr Bannister, 67, speaking at his home in Sydney, said: “He was hanging over the table we had him on by about ten inches.”
t was apparent from the start that Hendrix had probably arrived too late for the medical staff to save him. “When you are in casualty, one always tries very hard to resuscitate people. There’s always a hope. We worked very hard for about half an hour but there was no response at all. It really was an exercise in futility,” said Mr Bannister. “Somebody said to me ‘You know who that was?. That was Jimi Hendrix’ and, of course, I said, ‘Who’s Jimi Hendrix?’.”
Mr Wright’s description of what had happened to Hendrix “sounded plausible because of the volume of wine”, Mr Bannister said. What struck him most about the unusually tall patient was that he was drenched in alcohol. “The amount of wine that was over him was just extraordinary. Not only was it saturated right through his hair and shirt but his lungs and stomach were absolutely full of wine. I have never seen so much wine. We had a sucker that you put down into his trachea, the entrance to his lungs and to the whole of the back of his throat.
We kept sucking him out and it kept surging and surging. He had already vomited up masses of red wine and I would have thought there was half a bottle of wine in his hair. He had really drowned in a massive amount of red wine.” According to the conventional account, Hendrix — one of the most charismatic guitarists in the history of rock — died at the age of 27 from choking on vomit after a drugs overdose. Wright, now 65, has stirred conspiracy theorists and Hendrix obsessives around the world with his alternative account of the guitarist’s demise. He claims that Jeffery confessed the murder to him a month before he died in an aircraft collision.
Dannemann, an ice-skating instructor-turned-drug addict, who many people suspected knew more about Hendrix’s death than she let on, committed suicide in 1996.
Wright contends that Jeffery, his old boss, was “a dangerous man” who had been in the Secret Service and flaunted his connections with organized crime. By 1970 he was heavily in debt and had fallen out with his star act who may have been looking to change management and whose behavior had become increasingly erratic as his drug taking reached uncontrolled levels.
In response Jeffery allegedly took out a $2 million life insurance policy on the guitarist. According to Wright, Jeffery told him that Hendrix was “worth more to him dead than alive”.
Mr Bannister returned to Australia in 1972 and practised as an orthopaedic surgeon until 1992, when he was deregistered in New South Wales for fraudulent conduct.