Jimi Hendrix's mug shot

(updated May, 2021)

Jimi Hendrix Arrested

Was Jimi Hendrix arrested?  Yes! The celebrated 60’s rock star was busted On May 3rd, 1969 at 9:30 am in Toronto, Canada.   Checkout this mug shot photo of the legendary rock and rock guitarist.  Jimi Hendrix was busted at Toronto International Airport.  In Jimi’s luggage customs officials discovered a bottle that contained six packages of small amounts of heroin and hashish.

This is not unusual for many of the rock stars by in the 1960s.  Jimi Hendrix’s arrest came with some special, suspicious circumstances.  

Customs officials had somehow informed or assumed that Jimi would be carrying drugs upon arrival.  They were waiting for him.  Sure would like to know who did the informing, but I guess we will never know that.

The Trial and Fall Out

The inevitable publicity, good or bad, came with several Toronto newspapers ran article “Jimi Hendrix Arrested”.  Jimi Hendrix arrested indeed.  +

Jimi Hendrix’s trial experience began with posting a $10,000 cash bail the same day.  He was required to appear in court on May 5th.

During the trial, Hendrix claimed the heroin and hashish were slipped into his bag, without his knowledge.  Surprisingly, he was acquitted of the charges. 

Some friends and researchers say his manager, Chandler, planted them on him in order to keep Jimi more dependent on him.  There are even others who think it was a US government plant.  Hendrix appeared on many of the witch hunt lists of suspected communists and anarchists.

The arrest took place only four hours before the Experience were to play a concert at Maple Leaf Gardens.  Even with the detention by the police and posting bail, they made it to the venue and performed.

Jimi Hendrix Acquitted 

In court, Jimi owned up to using various drugs over the years.  His defense for the drugs being in his possession at the airport was that the drugs were slipped into his bag by a fan without his knowledge.  During witness testimony, the drugs were presented as evidence.  The defense pointed out that there was no drug paraphernalia in the luggage or on Hendrix’s person.  There were also no track marks on his body.  Judge Robert Taylor believed he was innocent.  Thus the acquittal.  

Jimi Hendrix arrested

Jimi Hendrix Trail Timetable

05-05-69: Toronto Court House, Toronto
Jimi appears in court for three minutes. The preliminary hearing is set for June 19.

06-19-69: Toronto Court House, Canada
Jimi attends a preliminary hearing. Trial is set for Dec. 8th.

12-08-69: Toronto Court House, Trial Day 1

12-09-69: Toronto Court House, Trial Day 2

12-10-69: Toronto Court House, Trial Day 3
The jury deliberated for eight hours, returning a verdict of not guilty and Jimi is cleared of all charges against him.

The acquittal did not come quickly nor did it come without stress.  Several of Jimi’s biographers say that the six months that he was a defendant weighed heavily on him.  He was convinced that he was going to be imprisoned.

This is not the only time that Hendrix was arrested.  January 1968 The Experience was in Sweden for a short tour, and after the first show, Hendrix started drinking heavily and went berserk.  He smashed up his hotel room in a drunken rage.  He injured his hand.  Police were called and he was arrested.  Jimi claimed his drink was spiked.  Bail was posted and he was released.  Upon return to Sweden, Jimi paid a heavy fine for the destruction of the hotel room.

A couple of days later the Experience was in Denmark.  There his famous hat was stolen.  

This article is an installment in the Jimi Hendrix Series on 60s Folks:


By Chowning

Richard Chowning was a teenager during the 60s. Being a Southern California resident during those years, he experienced many of the events and trends that distinguished those times.

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