Australian doctor remembers the day Hendrix died


As a young Australian doctor, he was the surgical registrar at London’s St Mary Abbot’s Hospital when the rock legend was rushed into emergency on a trolley.

“We worked on him for about half an hour,” Bannister says ruefully. “But there was not a breath. His oesophagus was full of wine. There was wine everywhere. (

Red wine, vomit, barbiturates in his system. There was nothing pretty about the death of a man whose life – as a master guitarist who had such hits as Purple Haze, Foxy Lady and All Along The Watchtower and famously shone at 1967’s Monterey Pop Festival and 1969’s Woodstock – became mythical after his death at just 27.

“He’d obviously been dead for at least half an hour,” Bannister, now 78 and living in Sydney, says. He remembers a slim woman, likely to be Hendrix’s last girlfriend Monika Dannemann, watching from the other side of a door. “She was very upset,” he says. “It was a very sad situation.”

It was just one morning in Bannister’s colourful life – returning to Sydney, he worked as an orthopaedic surgeon until being deregistered, became a property developer, then founded and sold Macquarie Medico Legal – but he still gets regular calls to ask about Hendrix, often for a book, documentary or TV show.

As they had a cup of tea after signing the death certificate, another doctor asked him – a jazz lover who played piano – if he knew who their patient was.

“I said, ‘Who was it?’,” Bannister says. “They said, ‘Jimi Hendrix.’ Well, I didn’t know who Jimi Hendrix was. I had no idea.”

He has since learned he was “the best guitarist who ever lived or will live”.

Although they did not know each other, another Australian doctor was involved in Hendrix’s treatment that morning.

Dr Bob Brown, who went on to become a Senator and long-time leader of the Australian Greens, met the ambulance that had come from Dannemann’s Notting Hill flat to the hospital.

In a new book celebrating Hendrix’s life, Australian writer and filmmaker Aidan Prewett’s Our Jimi, Brown remembers Hendrix being taken along in a trolley and “his lady friend was coming along behind”. He immediately knew there was nothing they could do for him.

“He was dead and had been for some time,” Brown says. “I just came along with the trolley, walked with it for a few steps and on it went.”

So much prodigious talent, lost so young.

Heritage Auctions is handling the bidding, which starts June 17 in Beverly Hills at $500k. Organizers estimate the final bid could reach $750k!

Meantime on May the 12th1967 The Jimi Hendrix Experience burst onto the scene with the release of their debut album Are You Experienced. Just a little less than a month before The Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band wento out.

The album is considered one of the greatest debut albums in the history of rock music. After leaving Little Richard’s band in 1965, he formed his own band, Jimmy James and The Blue Flames. Hendrix’s arrival in London to set the new band for few gigs to attack the british records market. And so it was.

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At a Cream performance, he asked Clapton if he could join him onstage. Clapton agreed. Hendrix proceeded to burst into a life-changing version of Howlin’ Wolf’s ”Killi

Before the climatic “Wild Thing” ending, where it went up in flames as Hendirx smashed it into pieces, the instrument was swapped out with another one, as Pete townshend use to with his guitars.

The burned guitar was reportedly sold for almost $380,000 in 2012.

TMZ says a private collector from the U.K. currently owns the non-burned guitar and is now ready to part with it — right in the middle of the three-day Monterey Pop Festival’s 50th anniversary. The site says the instrument is still stringed to accommodate the left-handed Hendrix, and includes scratches from his belt. And apparently you can still play the thing if you want to.

Hendrix took the stage of the Monterey Pop Festival in California on the final day, June 18, with his band the Experience. They had released their debut album, Are You Experienced, just a month before. Their nine-song set featured songs from the LP, as well as covers of “Wild Thing,” Howlin’ Wolf’s “Killing Floor” and Bob Dylan‘s “Like a Rolling Stone.”



1 Comment

  1. A guitar player on

    This 2020 article is way out of date.
    The Monterey guitar in question was to be auctioned by Heritage in 2017 but subsequently was pulled. Also its current estimate is in the many millions rather than hundreds of thousands.
    I understand the owner intends to auction it next year.

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