Fame and rumor are frequently joined at the hip. Indeed the rumors about Michael Jeffery, Jimi Hendrix’ business manager, are not flattering. But Jeffery, by nearly ALL accounts, was a calculating and conniving deal-maker and a shrewd businessman who could also be charming, in a faux sort of way. That much is less given to rumor than to record, but what perhaps is more deserving of being called rumor is the story of his “spy” history with British intelligence, MI6.
Eric Burdon of The Animals knew Jeffery well (Jeffery managed the Animals as well as Hendrix) and he reported that he thought of Jeffery’s spy stories as drunken tall tales until one day, after Jeffery told him to meet him at a particular location at a London harbor, Jeffery emerged in a wet suit and scuba gear with a black box in hand, with which he immediately detonated a string of underwater explosions. According to Burdon, Jeffery often bragged of his exploits as an agent under the employ of British Intelligence.
The death of Hendrix himself has been attributed to the guile and greed of Jeffery. Read more here if you’re interested. You can also check out here John Potash’s conspiratorial narrative of the activities of MI6 in undermining political undesirables by promoting excessive drug use in society (Hendrix is believed to have died from mixing barbiturates and wine). Even Jeffery’s own death, alleged to have been caused by a mid-air collision over France, is shrouded in mystery. [< blog by “Nancy” not the same Nancy] Some say he checked his bags but wasn’t on the plane at all. (He hasn’t been seen since.)
Jeffery, clearly an object of Nancy’s affection and love as she describes below, was never the less a mere man to Nancy, and not a very romantic one at that. Not that Mike didn’t try to be romantic. He seemed to get part of the script right — candlelight, dinner, wine, back room — but the rest of the script was waaaay off the mark…
The tablecloth was so checkered.
The candlelight flickered.
Our hands touched.
Red wine glistened in glasses.
It was P.J. Clarkes [as their website indicates, a venue frequented by many generations of famous artists and politicians.]
We were in the back room, looking into each others eyes.
This must be the time
for guys like him
to tell girls like me
that they were spies.
We stopped on the head of a pin….balanced and floating together….feeling our pulse and our breath moving in and out. Our bodies connected at every pore. Waiting for more.
And he said, as he looked in my eyes, so close to his. So close he said to me, ‘isn’t this nice?’
Nancy was not given to mystery, and her perceptions of Michael Jeffery are really quite down to earth. She was not under any illusion that love was deep for Jeffery, or that he was even remotely faithful. It was anyway the Sixties after all!
I loved Mike’s insight.
I loved his touch.
I loved his worldliness.
I liked his power.
I liked his ability to get things done.
I liked his overview.
I liked his cleverness.
I was confused by his confusions.
Confusions about kindness, loyalty,
honesty, duty, and responsibility.
I was edgy about his motives.
A full spectrum of emotion…..love….like….confusion. Mike was a source for Nancy of admiration and disgust, and everything in between. Most of the time she recognized the complete range of feelings he elicited in her, but she didn’t always welcome the recognition.
In the beginning when Mike said, ‘I think I’m falling in love with you.’ I knew he was ‘applying’ to my life, and that was his essay. It was O.K. The experience of Mike required a suspension of disbelief.
Mike was mysterious….after I loved him. Before I loved him, I saw him, then I didn’t.
I never thought of Mike as a real businessman.
He had a great demeanor and could do deals and call in favors — he was also amoral — and would do or say what he had to to get what he wanted.
He understood the dark side and the weaknesses of people to gain advantage or control over them.
Maintenance was of no interest to him. He was all about acquisition.
He often left a trail of trouble, debris, unanswered questions, unsolved problems, and missing facts, or property.
He was cavalier with losses and facile with impropriety.
He was cleverer than most of the people he dealt with but I believe he respected the people who could ‘get over’ on him (Jose’s girl).
But he never seemed rooted or situated anywhere.
His allegiances were really zero. The layers of agendas and associations that he made were so deep that he could slip from one level to another — and often conducted multi-level tasks at one time.
Was he really a manager or was it a cover for what was another endeavor?
I believe he set things up so that pockets of people believed he was doing one thing or another ad infinitum.
People could do jobs for him, but they never understood what he was up to.
The people he met with were unknown to one another in so many ways.
He reveled in being deemed dangerous.
He loved disappearing, so no one knew where he was.
He had a fascination with explosions ever since he was a child.
Mostly Nancy saw “Mike” as a man of business with a flair for the maneuver. Yes, like any business person he sought pleasure in the size of his “take,” and then by the things he was able to buy and own therewith. But the joy for Mike was seemingly more in the maneuver, the slight of hand, the deception.
Jimi was not subtle, not cagey, not a long range deceiver.
Mike was more slight of hand. He used misdirection, suggestion, and diminishing returns.
Perhaps the plant kingdom is the liaison between souls in different states of incarnation.
Jimi, a leaf. Mike, a plant with bugs.
Mikes words sped out of his mouth in a run. Sliding under a door like an envelope on a slippery floor.
And she worried about Jimi, who was not her lover (except occasionally — more on this at a later date 😉 ), but rather her friend, her soul connection.
Things would no longer go automatically forward.
I would circle around Mike warily.
Wondering who I was with.
I worried about Jimi.
It opened my eyes.
And closed a bit of my heart.
3 Replies to “Mike, a man of many maneuvers”
I found your blog by following a story of Jimi Hendrix daughter Tabitha. I was looking at images of Hendrix and his two out of wedlock children. Really, just killing time.Your sisters name kept coming up randomly. Now, I find this blog that resonates into my core. Nancy’s story and her writing resonates a famalir chill that one gets when seeing a ghostly presence lurking inside the corridors of your mind. Her words with your chronicles of the family history is truly a testament of the voice you gave Nancy. I personally think you should submit as an essay to Harper’s Bazaar.
hi Nancy…thanks for the thoughtful comment. I love to hear from people who can relate to Nancy’s story. I’d love to hear more about the references to our Nancy that you mention! What has come up? I’d be happy to subscribe you to future posts (not very often) if you’d like. Tom