For many heads, the highlight of the ultimate hippy happening that was Woodstock (and of the seminal hippy festival Monterey, too) was an electrifying performance by that quasar of the guitar and psychedelic god; the most important instrumentalist in the history of popular music, James Marshall Hendrix.

Hendrix had caused a sensation in London in 1966, where he dazzled the elite coterie of rock stars on the insular London scene with his astonishing guitar techniques, but also impressed them with his authenticity. Not only was Jimi really American, but he was actually black! Even if he had been less forthright about his fondness for cannabis - pronouncing in an interview in 1967 that he reckoned it would be legal within five years - could there be a shred of doubt that Jimi smoked pot?

In that year of the Summer of Love, on Valentines Day, Jimi made his most pertinent (though reticent) contribution to the cannabis debate by quietly paying for 3000 joints to be mailed out to addresses chosen at random from the New York phone book. A note offered the recipients the chance to discover what all the fuss was about, but reminded them that they are now criminals for possessing marijuana. The stunt was organised by Abbie Hoffman, the Yippie activist and author of a classic 60s radical tract,Steal This Book, which includes a rough guide to guerilla gardening. Idealistic Abbie wrote:

'Giving dope away can be a real mind-blower. Every dealer should submit to voluntary taxation by the new Nation. If you are a conscientious dealer, you should be willing and eager to give a good hunk of your stash away at special events or to groups into free distribution. You should also be able to give bread to bust trusts set up to bail out heads unable to get up the ransom money the whisky lush courts demand. Many groups have done huge mailings of joints to all sorts of people. A group in New York mailed 30,000 to people in the phone book on one Valentine's Day. A group in Los Angeles placed over 2,000 joints in library books and then advised kids to smoke a book during National Library Week. Be cool about even giving stuff away since that counts as dealing in most states.'

In the years since Jimi's death from an overdose of sleeping tablets some time during the early hours of September 18, 1970, at the age of 27, many myths have grown up surrounding the circumstances. Most of these conjectures are fuelled by the inconsistent recollections of the woman he was with at the time, Monika Danneman, who committed suicide in 1995 after losing a libel action against Hendrix' former regular girlfriend, Kathy Etchingham.
Etchingham told Pamela Des Barres she believed Monika's story at first, but after reading a manuscript written years later, she "smelled a rat". "I realised she didn't know Jimi at all! Describing how he rolled joints! I knew and everyone else knew that Jimi couldn't roll a joint! I was the joint roller!"
Jimi Links:
The Official Jimi Hendrix Web Site.
A Jimi Hendrix Experience
Unofficial Jimi Tribute Site
Jimi Hendrix at The Rocksite
Loads of links
Hendrix @ Rockmine
Cool collection that includes Jimi's
death certificate