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Michael Frank Jeffery (born March 1933 in Peckham, London - died 5 March 1973) was a music business manager of the 1960s who is best known for his management of British band The Animals and American guitarist-composer Jimi Hendrix, whom he co-managed for a time with former Animals bassist Chas Chandler. A former associate of noted British pop impresario Don Arden, Jeffery was and remains a controversial figure. He was killed in 1973 in a mid-air collision over Nantes, France, whilst aboard an Iberia Airlines DC-9.
Mike Jeffery started his career in music as the owner/manager of venues in Newcastle upon Tyne in northern England; the Marimba coffee bar and the Downbeat jazz club. Eric Burdon of the Animals was a patron of the latter, which eventually became a beat music venue featuring local bands such as The Alan Price Combo (originally The Pagans and soon to be The Animals) as well as The Kylastrons and The Invaders.
After the club was closed due to fire regulations, both establishments burned down. Jeffery then opened the Club A’Gogo in partnership with Ray Grehan, sales manager for the Automaticket company. The Club A'Gogo was to become Newcastle's most celebrated venue, particularly after it was the subject of a best-selling song by The Animals who were house band there (to be replaced by The Junco Partners when The Animals became an international act), and saw 1960s concerts by Captain Beefheart, Cream, Fleetwood Mac, The Graham Bond Organisation, Howlin’ Wolf, Jeff Beck, Jimi Hendrix, John Lee Hooker, John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers, Pink Floyd, The Rolling Stones, The Who and The Yardbirds among others. It attracted younger Newcastle clientele such as Sting and Bryan Ferry.
Jeffery contracted to manage The Animals and obtained a recording contract with Columbia, the recordings to be produced by Mickie Most. After the success of their second record "The House of the Rising Sun" the Animals embarked on a tour of the USA. Despite this success Jeffery has been openly condemned by members of The Animals, who blame him for the breakup of the band, claiming that he worked the group into the ground and appropriated most of their earnings.
When Chas Chandler decided to move into management himself and signed Jimi Hendrix, he needed financial support to launch The Experience and so went into partnership with his old manager, with very mixed feelings. Hence Jeffrey became co-manager of The Jimi Hendrix Experience, taking care of business while Chandler produced.
Jeffery has received almost unanimous criticism from biographers of Hendrix. Several have alleged that Jeffery siphoned off much of Hendrix's income and channeled it into off-shore bank accounts, that Jeffery had dubious connections to US intelligence services (it has been reported[by whom?] that insiders often claimed that he worked for MI5, British Secret Intelligence and that he had connections to European organised crime). When Experience bassist Noel Redding inquired as to where Jeffery was going with briefcases of the band's money, he was asked to leave. Jeffery was played by actor Billy Zane in the movie Hendrix.
In October 2006 a $15 million auction took place of items of Michael Jeffery's estate including the rights to many of Jimi Hendrix's hits including "Purple Haze" and "Voodoo Child (Slight Return)". Experience Hendrix, a company formed and owned by Hendrix's family, have said they will prove they own the titles to these songs and that they intend to sue.
Jimi Hendrix was pronounced dead on 18 September 1970 at St. Mary Abbotts Hospital, Kensington, London. His body was found alone by ambulance paramedics (after a 999 call from a pay phone) that morning at approximately 11:00 in the basement flat of Monika Dannemann, who was supposedly Hendrix's girlfriend at that time. In May 2009 the UK media reported claims that Michael Jeffery had murdered Jimi Hendrix. James "Tappy" Wright, who was a roadie for The Animals in the 1960s, claimed he met Michael Jeffery in 1971, one year after Hendrix's death, and Jeffery confessed to having murdered Hendrix by plying him with pills and a bottle of wine in order to kill him and claim on the guitarist's life insurance.
Jeffery is quoted by Wright as telling him: "I was in London the night of Jimi's death and together with some old friends.. we went 'round to Monika's hotel room, got a handful of pills and stuffed them into his mouth...then poured a few bottles of red wine deep into his windpipe." The manager was allegedly worried that Hendrix was about to fire him.
In May 1968 Chandler & Jeffery took out a life insurance [not $2 million as Wright incorrectly has claimed] on Jimi Hendrix. Details of payment (when and how much) have not been revealed, but it is understood that no money was paid out while Michael Jeffery was alive. Also, three people thus far have stated that Michael Jeffery was in Majorca, Spain and not in London when Jimi Hendrix died.
At the time of Hendrix's death, the coroner recorded an "open verdict," stating that the cause was "barbiturate intoxication and inhalation of vomit". The pathologist who did an autopsy on Hendrix, Prof. Teare, failed to detect any wine; he reported an alcohol level so low it would have failed the drink-drive test in 1970.  However, this could be because the wine that may have been forced down Hendrix's throat might not have got into his bloodsteam before he died. Years later, Dr. John Bannister, the doctor who attempted to resuscitate Hendrix at the hospital, said he was convinced the star had drowned in red wine: "I recall vividly the very large amounts of red wine that oozed from his stomach and his lungs and in my opinion there was no question that Jimi Hendrix had drowned, if not at home then on the way to the hospital," Bannister wrote in 1992. This is still considered controversial.