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Purple Haze: Battle Over Hendrix Songs

An unidentified bidder spent $15 million to purchase guitar legend Jimi Hendrix's entire song catalog, but members of the rock star's family said Friday that the music, including classics like "Purple Haze" and "Voodoo Chile," still belongs to them.

The rights to the rock legend's songs were auctioned off Thursday by the estate of former Hendrix manager Michael Frank Jeffrey, said Wendy Chou, spokeswoman for Ocean Tomo Auctions, LLC. She declined to identify the winning bidder.

A Hendrix family spokesman said the term "winner" was relative.

"You may buy the right to become a defendant in a lawsuit," said Bob Merlis, a spokesman for Experience Hendrix, a Seattle-based company owned by Hendrix family members. "If someone infringes on our rights, we'll deal with it."

Hendrix, whose brilliant career ended with his 1970 death from a drug overdose in London, created some of the 1960s' most indelible music on such albums as "Electric Ladyland," "Axis: Bold As Love" and "Are You Experienced?"

According to Merlis, the Hendrix family had warned before the auction that they believed the Jeffrey estate had no claim to the catalog. In a variety of previous court cases, the family's ownership of the catalog was established and reaffirmed, Merlis said.

"We sounded many, many cautionary notes," he said of the latest auction. "Basically, somebody bought the Michael Jeffrey estate claim, which was heretofore judged worthless. I'd file this one under 'go figure."'

Auction house spokeswoman Chou said that Ocean Tomo would have no comment on the charges from the Hendrix estate. Jeffrey died three years after Hendrix.

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