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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 & the 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 that spanned most 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. 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. In May 2009, the UK media reported claims by James "Tappy" Wright that Michael Jeffery had murdered Jimi Hendrix. Wright, who was a roadie for The Animals in the 1960s, had just written a book, in which he claimed he was with 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. 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, reported a low blood alcohol level.