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Tragic end for the woman who worshipped Hendrix

Rock 'n' roll death: Defeat in her court case this week may have proved too much for Monika Danneman


On any corner of Greenwich Village in New York or Telegraph Avenue in Berkeley, California, strains of the Sixties can usually be heard, performed by an ageing hippy and his guitar. More often than not the song is Bob Dylan's "The Times They Are A Changing." But for Monika Danneman, the archetypal rock chick and one time girlfriend of guitar legend Jimi Hendrix, time just never did change.

In the undefined mid-1990s, with youth culture struggling for an identity, the retro-fashion of the decade of Timothy Leary and the Beatles, youth protest and freedom, looks appealing.

Then Jimi Hendrix was the resident atonal, psychedelic freak; a black musician become rock hero. Eric Clapton, for some, was his white equivalent, but with one crucial difference. Eric is still alive and ageing. Now both Hendrix and his final girlfriend are gone.

Hendrix's extraordinary technique attracted a cult following. On his first tour in London, he supported the Monkees, an industry-invented "Take That" troupe, loved by mums and dads.

German-born Monika Danneman was a champion ice-skater when she met Hendrix in 1968 in a Dusseldorf bar. As chronicler of her own legend, she claims she fell in love straight away. Then there was a gap of some years before the romance was rekindled in London.

In her book, The Inner Life of Jimi Hendrix, published last year to coincide with the 25th anniversary of Hendrix's drug-induced death, the couple are described as living anything but a life of sex, drugs, and rock'n'roll. There was apparent domestic bliss in a rented flat in Notting Hill Gate where Hendrix talked about "life and death for hours". She says they were engaged and she wore a massive golden serpent that wrapped round her finger.

She was wearing the ring at the High Court last week when she was convicted of contempt of court for continuing a libel against another of the rock star's women. The reality, for those who knew Hendrix well, was that Danneman only ever occupied three weeks out of the rock hero's short life.

The woman Danneman regarded as her rival, Kathy Etchingham, was the long- standing "Foxy Lady" girlfriend of Hendrix. She has moved on from her Sixties' days, and is now the respectable wife of a doctor and mother of two teenage sons.

Danneman in court looked the classic Sixties babe: long blonde feathered hair, tight black suit with bright red satin underneath, lots of rings, lots of jewellery, heavy mascara, and a mohair coat. Appearing every inch the rock star girlfriend, in her mind she remained anchored to the Hendrix legend.

Hendrix died on 18 September 1970, in Danneman's Notting Hill flat. Those who have examined the timetable of the death point to a missing five hours between Danneman's alleged first discovery of the body and the arrival of an ambulance.

In 1994, the Attorney General Sir Nicholas Lyell reopened the file on the death. The subsequent investigation cleared Danneman of suggestions that she delayed calling the ambulance.

After Hendrix's death, she turned him into a personal religion - worshipping by painting oil pictures of him "on the astral plane" and continuing to write about him. The painting and drawings covered her house which became a shrine to lost love.

By the end of her life she had become a virtual recluse. She recently said: "It is a lonely life. But if I'd not met Jimi, my life would have been very ordinary."