Tea with Jimi Hendrix
The last day of Hendrix life was not what you would have expected….
On September 17, 1970, Jimi Hendrix spent the day with his German girlfriend in London (the former ice-skating teacher Monika Dannemann). She had rented rooms at the Samarkand Hotel in London, a self-catering apartment hotel in Notting Hill. After a day out at Kensington Market and the Cumberland Hotel, Jimi and Monika took tea in the garden behind her flat. Monika took the last known photos of Hendrix the day before his death.
In case you were wondering, milk and two sugars in his tea. Never drank tea until he came to England in 1966 but learned to embrace it’s tranquil qualities. His last photographs seem to exude the peacefulness as he welcomed in the beauty of nature around him. A far cry from where the day would lead to with such a tragic end. After all being intoxicated on wine to the point of passing out to where your stomach was upset was not pleasant. Then the violent nature of throwing up to the point that it obstructs his air passage was officially how he passed away. Jimi’s consciousness would have been brief and long enough for his body to tell him that there was a problem. Only to slip back into a coma like state as the brain suffered an air supply shortage.
Less then 24 hours before he died and with the last photos taken of him, it was of a calm and serene Hendrix and not the legendary party boy you would have expected for his last photographs. Sure he did go to a party later that evening where there was drinking and drugs which caused his ultimate death, but he had a moment of time where he was in a good place.
Some of the photos include his prized “black beauty” guitar, his pose both playing the strings as well as showed off its beauty in a soft cradling position.
The final words of what Hendrix had written, whether poem or a song he was working on, reportedly read:
“The story of life is quicker than the wink of an eye/The story of love is hello and goodbye, until we meet again.”
He faintly plucked the guitar strings as it sat on his lap like it was his child sitting on his Father’s knee. The garden was ripe with autumn smells as the fragrant tea he was drinking was a pleasant backdrop to a slightly cool afternoon. He held onto a boyish grin as if he had figured out the meaning of life. His girlfriend (Monika Dannema)looked on observing his quiet demeanor and hoping for a change to his life. She knew all too well Jimi’s heavy drinking and drug use was his form of therapy for his anger toward the direction of the record industry. She was just hoping for that “wake-up” moment and thought the afternoon was the birth of it. She sat with legs folded in her chair and smoked her cigarette while watching Jimi walk through the garden. She enjoyed this new found lighter side to Hendrix and but had her doubts it could last.
You wouldn’t think that a man who rocked the Star Spangled Banner at Woodstock would politely sip tea from a flowered porcelain cup. His lips barely touched the luke warm tea with each sip. Almost by a natural reaction his pinky would rise as he brought the cup to his lips. He sat in silence most of the time and a deep reflective state. Only an occasional chirping bird got Jimi’s attention and made him turn his head. Was he communicating with his eventual afterlife? You know, making peace and paving his way with those who might greet him? It was this kind of meditative state that Monika found so intriguing.
It was in Monika’s flat along Notting Hill Gate that she found Jimi unresponsive on the morning of September 18th, 1970. He was pronounced dead at St. Mary Abbot’s Hospital. A combination of amphetamines and sleeping pills led him to choke to death on his own vomit. He was 27 years old.
Monika Dannemann found herself in the heart of a rock ’n’ roll scandal. She gave plenty of interviews to the German tabloids and the extent of her involvement in Jimi’s death has been debated since.
Was she the one who gave him the sleeping pills? No two of Monika’s accounts were the same. She seemed incapable of giving a consistent statement.
There’s no getting away from the fact that Monika Dannemann made a good living out of Jimi’s death. The very fact that she was there the moment he passed made her a wanted interview the rest of her life. She spoke with newspapers, biographers, historians, and documentarians. She attended Hendrix-themed events.
The portrait she painted of Jimi in her accounts was of a “shamanic” figure (a collection of ancient techniques that help to awaken and expand consciousness), an almost mythological spiritual powerhouse. This coincided with the last photographs she took of their time together in the garden.
The fundamental mystery surrounding Monika Dannemann, and the speculation as to the real nature of her relationship with Jimi Hendrix, continues to be debated to this day. Were they really lovers, or was the romance Monika described merely the product of a deluded and opportunistic imagination? Was she at the right place right time?
However erratic their connection, there’s no getting away from the few established facts:
they knew one another, they were together when he died. For those reasons at least, Monika Dannemann will always be remembered.
MYSTERIOUS DEATH OF MONIKA
The book Monika was writing, which was titled “The Inner World of Jimi Hendrix”, was hotly anticipated, but the publication was prohibited until some legal issues were resolved. Monika herself was evidently in decline. Her legal wranglings with Kathy Etchingham (Jimi’s former girlfriend)proved to no avail. She lost a libel lawsuit and two days later, on April 5th, 1996, she was found dead of carbon monoxide poisoning in the garage of her home. She was 50 years of age.
The last photographs of Jimi Hendrix cannot be debated and for whatever the angle Monika Dannemann took whether it be greed or the fact she was truly in love with Hendrix, the photographs tell a final story.