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LIVE FROM THE HEADLINES

Fight Over Jini Hendrix's Estate Ensues

Aired July 24, 2003 - 19:43   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

COOPER: Well, there's a remarkable family feud going on over the estate of Jimi Hendrix. We're going to speak with Hendrix's stepsister, Janie, in just a moment.
But first, we're joined from Seattle by Leon Hendrix, Jimi's brother, and Leon's lawyer, Robert Curran.

Appreciate both of you joining us.

Leon, essentially, what is this dispute about?

LEON HENDRIX, JIMI HENDRIX'S BROTHER: Anderson, the dispute is about, my father had left his grandchildren and myself a portion of the estate, probably so that we could kind of police and maintain some integrity and some prestige in the way the place -- the way that Jimi's being marketed right now. And we're just -- I'm just upset about it. And I don't think Jimi would approve of the way he's being marketed as a commercial icon right now.

COOPER: But in, I guess, the last will that was left by your father, you were basically written out of that will. You were not in it. I think you ended up with a gold record, and that's about it.

LEON HENDRIX: Well, that...

COOPER: Does this boil down to about money also?

LEON HENDRIX: No, it's not either. That wasn't my father's will. My father's will left me and my family well taken care of. That was -- somebody else wrote that will.

COOPER: Well, yes, nevertheless, the -- so far, I mean, according to authorities thus far, and I know your suit is contending that that was not the real intent of your father, but there is a will out there, which is what's been followed up to this point, that left your stepsister in charge of the estate. What is it you are looking for now?

LEON HENDRIX: I'm looking for some justice, and to be able to protect the legacy and heritage of our family name, which is Hendrix.

COOPER: What is wrong with the way -- in your opinion, with the way that Jimi Hendrix's image, the music, is being marketed now?

LEON HENDRIX: Well, it seems almost like a commercial effort just to make money, instead of protecting his -- the integrity of his music. COOPER: What, how so? I mean, is it, is it, is it a...

LEON HENDRIX: Well, many fans...

COOPER: ... (UNINTELLIGIBLE) his name on golf balls, air fresheners?

LEON HENDRIX: Yes, that's right. Many fans call me and e-mail me and say, Leon, what's going on with your brother's estate? You know, and I have no questions, I have no answer, because there is no Hendrixes working at the estate right now, any blood-related Hendrixes.

COOPER: Robert, what are you looking for in this suit?

ROBERT CURRAN, LEON HENDRIX'S ATTORNEY: We're looking to reclaim Leon's birthright, plain and simple. The law will not enforce a will that is obtained by undue influence or fraud. And that's what we believe we can prove occurred in this case.

From the time that Al Hendrix inherited Jimi's estate, after Jimi died in 1970, all the way through up until 1977, Leon and his children were in Al's wills and were well provided for. It was only when Al became quite elderly and Janie Hendrix really took over all of his financial and legal affairs that Leon was disinherited.

COOPER: Leon, if you were in control of the image, or had a say in the way the image was marketed, how would you change things? What would you do differently?

LEON HENDRIX: For one thing, I wouldn't sell trinkets. I would just market his music and leave it pure, like he wrote it.

COOPER: Leon, no doubt there are some who say you're in this for the money, you're looking to make some money off this. You're disinherited and you're angry. Your response.

LEON HENDRIX: I'm not angry at all. Not at all, because I play music myself. I carry the DNA, and I'm willing to pursue that career myself.

COOPER: Well, Leon Hendrix and attorney Robert Curran, appreciate you joining us to tell your side of it.

LEON HENDRIX: Thank you, Anderson.

COOPER: Thank you very much.

CURRAN: Thank you very much.

LEON HENDRIX: Thank you.

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