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The Doctor's Story
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Excerpt From The Book: Hendrix: The Final Days By Tony Brown

On arrival Jimi was immediately seen by Dr. John Bannister, a Surgical Registrar, and shortlyafter by Dr Martin Seifert, the Medical Registrar on duty that day. Dr. Bannister is now anOrthopaedic Surgeon working in Australia. After reading Harry Shapiro's Hendrix biographyElectric Gypsy, in particular the pages that concerned Jimi's death, he wrote directly toShapiro on January 9, 1992.

The following is an extract from his letter:"Some of the statements [about Hendrix's death] were incorrect. At the time of his death, I was the Surgical Registrar on duty at St. Mary Abbots Hospital. I was called to casualty with one or two other Medical Officers. The ambulance had brought in a patient who was unconscious. He was taken out of the ambulance and wheeled into casualty. We attempted resuscitation and cardiac massage. Continual suction on his pharynx and larynx was performed. "On his admission, he was obviously dead. He had no pulse, no heart beat and the attempt to resuscitate him was merely a formality, an attempt we would perform on any patient in such condition. His mucous membranes in the larynx and pharynx were completely cyanosed and prior to suction there was red wine and gastric contents exuding from his mouth. The very striking memory of this event in my mind was the considerable amount of alcohol in his pharynx and larynx, despite suction,and it was obvious that he had drowned in his own gastric contents.

"At the time I was not aware who Jimi Hendrix was, but it was pointed out to me soon after. "I recall vividly the very large amounts of red wine that oozed from his stomach and his lungs, and in my opinion there was no question that Jimi Hendrix had drowned, if not at home then certainly on the way to the hospital. At the time I felt he had either been on sedative tablets, to sleep or otherwise, and that he had imbibed copious amounts of red wine prior to going to sleep. I would suspect that he regurgitated the red wine and drowned.

"I note in your book that someone suggested he should have perhaps had a tracheotomy. He would not have responded to such treatment and it was not even a possibility. I would suspect that he had been dead for quite some time before he reached the hospital and there was no indication to proceed to tracheotomy. "I do not believe that he was admitted into hospital and that he was taken to the morgue directly from Casualty. "I can recollect my own feeling at the time ... that it was a tragic loss of a young person to the effects of alcohol. The scene remains extremely vivid in my memory, and I can quite clearly recall the large amounts of red wine causing his hair and clothes to be matted."

In another interview, conducted by The Tinta newspaper and published on December 18, 1993, Dr. John Bannister gave an even more vivid account of Jimi's condition: 'Jimi Hendrix had been dead for some time, without a doubt, hours rather than minutes. He didn't have any pulse. The inside of his mouth and mucous membranes were black because he had been dead for some time. He had had no circulation through his tissues at any time immediately prior to coming to hospital." Dr. Bannister expressed surprise that accounts of Jimi Hendrix's death, including the pathologist's inquest report, had failed to mention that Jimi Hendrix had been drinking 'masses' of red wine. "It was coming out of his nose and out of his mouth. It was horrific. The whole scene is very vivid, because you don't often see people who have drowned in their own red wine. There was red wine all over him, I think that he was naked but he had something around him - whether it was a towel or a jumper - around his neck. That was saturated in red wine. "His hair was matted. He was completely cold. I personally think he probably died a long time before. He was cold and he was blue. He had all the parameters of somebody who had been dead for some time. We worked on him for about half an hour without any response at all. There was a medical registrar, myself, nursing staff and I think one other doctor. I didn't even know who Jimi Hendrix was. It's tragic that such a bloke died in those circumstances. The medical staff used an 18 inch metal sucker to try to clear Hendrix's airway, but it would just fill up with red wine from his stomach."

Dr. Bannister was also interviewed for the BBC Radio One's Wink Of An Eye, broadcast on September 10, 1995. "He did not have an obstruction of the airways," Dr Bannister told the interviewer. "What he had, was that he had a drowning of the airways. His lungs were completely overcome by fluid. One does a tracheotomy to get better access to the trachea and to the airways. But his problems were below that. The body was cold, there were no signs of circulation and my overall impression was that he'd been dead for some hours before." It is curious that despite the copious amounts of red wine that Jimi had in his body, his blood alcohol level was low. It is also curious that Jimi was covered in so much red wine. Dr. Bannister's statement that the red wine was matted in his clothes and hair might imply that it had been poured over him and left to dry. He could have been soaked in wine for hours.

Monika Dannemann has always stated that Jimi drank only one bottle of white wine with his dinner earlier in the evening. In one of her many interviews, she claimed that Jimi purchased two bottles of wine, one white and one red. She also claimed to have kept the empty red wine bottle.