Article by James McClure, Civilized
When you hear the phrase “Queen vs. James Marshall Hendrix,” you might think someone’s comparing psychedelic guitarist Jimi Hendrix to Freddie Mercury’s seminal rock band. But that’s actually the title of the court case brought before Hendrix in December 1969 after he was caught carrying hash and heroin while on tour in Canada.
On May 3, 1969, Hendrix was arrested at Pearson (then Toronto International Airport) after a troupe of mounties – who were waiting for the rocker’s plane to arrive from Detroit – found narcotics and paraphernalia in his luggage. When the case went to trial in December of that year, Hendrix’s lawyer successfully argued that the contraband was a gift from a fan, and Hendrix didn’t know he was carrying illegal drugs.
After his acquittal, Hendrix told reporters, “Canada has given me the best Christmas present I ever had.”
And that’s not the only funny moment from this bizarre showdown between the cannabis culture icon and the Canadian justice system. Here are some other highlights, based on court transcripts reprinted in rock biographer Steven Roby’s new book Hendrix on Hendrix: Interviews and Encounters with Jimi Hendrix (2016)
When Hendrix described what sorts of gifts fans gave to the band, the prosecutor (John Malone) had to stop and ask for a crash course in marijuana edibles.
Hendrix: [Sometimes] we would get packages of marijuana, which would be either in cellophane or tinfoil, or maybe in little cookie packs or a cigarette box or something, and they might be rolled up in cigarette paper and we receive hashish sometimes in blocks or hash cookies or cakes.