Purple Haze of Litigation: Unseen Hendrix Concert Footage to Remain Unseen, for Now
On February 18 and 24, 1969, the Jimi Hendrix Experience played two shows at the Royal Albert Hall in London. Considering the iconic artist and the iconic venue, this is no doubt a concert Hendrix fans would die to see. But thanks to ongoing litigation they're just hoping they don't die before they're able to see it.
The concerts were filmed and recorded with the express purpose of being released as a film. The problem, in the intervening 48 years, is that the parties to the recording contract can't seem to agree on how to release the footage. And with a recent California Court of Appeals decision, that release will be delayed even further.
Are You Experienced?
Given the time that has passed since the original contract was signed, keeping the parties involved straight can be tricky. Originally, Hendrix's manager signed a contract with Steve Gold and Gerald Goldstein that gave both men the right to film the shows and use that footage for a concert film, with the pair splitting the profits.
That film never came out, and this is where the tricky part comes in, mostly due to the names involved: a new agreement to release the concert footage was signed in 2010, with an entity called Experience Hendrix signing on as the successor to Jimi himself, and another entity entitled Last Experience representing Gold, Goldstein, and Hendrix's manager. Part of that agreement was repaying Experience Hendrix for $4.1 million it spent in legal fees to block the London Times newspaper from distributing an audio bootlegs of the concerts.
Bold as Love
But even under the new agreement, there was discord, with each side squabbling over theatrical reach and advertising budgets. We'll let Courthouse News summarize the years for legal back-and-forth, culminating in the latest lawsuit between Experience Hendrix and Last Experience:
Experience Hendrix sued Goldstein et al. in L.A. Superior Court in May 2011, accusing Goldstein of fraud by telling Experience Hendrix he would accept nothing less than a wide release of the film.
Experience Hendrix sought $4.1 million in restitution from its UK legal battle, plus sole rights to the footage of the Albert Hall shows.
Goldstein et al. filed a counter-complaint, accusing Experience Hendrix of breaches of contract, good faith and fair dealing, and intentional misrepresentation. Goldstein sought compensatory and punitive damages.
The trial court granted summary judgment to of Experience Hendrix on Goldstein's counter claims, and Experience Hendrix's complaint proceeded to a five-day bench trial.
The court refused to rescind the 2010 agreement, finding Goldstein did not hide his desire for wide release of the film, and did not insist on a distribution minimum.
The court found that Goldstein thought he had agreed to a sliding scale, in which Sony would distribute the film in wider release if Goldstein could come up with the cash to cover the costs.
Because Goldstein wasn't illegally barring the film's release, said release will still require his consent. And with that consent up in the air, Hendrix fans may be waiting a few more decades to see a Hendrix performance recorded less than two years before his death.
- Jimi Hendrix's Successor Loses Appeal in Concert Film Dispute (The Hollywood Reporter)
- Jimi Hendrix Infringer Experiences 'Crash Landing' at 9th Cir. (FindLaw's U.S. Ninth Circuit Court Blog)
- Bob Marley's Heirs Win Trademark Dispute at 9th Cir. (FindLaw's U.S. Ninth Circuit Court Blog)
- 3 Things to Know About the 'Stairway to Heaven' Lawsuit (FindLaw's Legal Grounds)