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Jimi Hendrix Allegedly Saved from Kidnapping By Infamous Cocaine Trafficker

Jimi Hendrix
Hulton Archives, Getty Images

In his new memoir, Jon Roberts — a former Mafia member and convicted cocaine trafficker who spearheaded the Medellin Drug Cartel’s rise in the 1980s — claims that he once saved Jimi Hendrix from a kidnapping attempt in New York in the ’60s.

As Evan Wright, who co-authored ‘American Desperado,’ tells Rolling Stone, at first he didn’t even believe Roberts’ claim — until he looked further into it and discovered that not only does the tale appear to be true, it’s actually one that’s so unlikely that for decades it had baffled Hendrix biographers.

Though Roberts admits “Jimi and I were never great friends,” he does relate stories of hanging around the guitar great while they were both living in New York. Roberts owned a club there called Salvation, which turned out to be the starting point of this caper. “I got involved in Jimi’s so-called kidnapping after he was grabbed by some guys out of Salvation,” Roberts writes in an excerpt of the book posted here.

One night Jimi, who had a bad heroin addiction at the time, visited the club in an attempt to score drugs. “Two Italian kids at our club — not Mafia but wiseguy wannabes — saw Jimi in there looking for dope and decided, ‘Hey, that’s Jimi Hendrix. Let’s grab him and see what we can get.’” Apparently, they lured him to a house outside the city with the promise of getting him heroin, and hoped to hold him for a tidy ransom.

Roberts, who was notified of the heist by his club’s manager, continues: “It took me and [my Mafia partner] Andy [Benfante] two or three phone calls to get the names of the kids who were holding Jimi. We reached out to these kids and made it clear, ‘You let Jimi go, or you are dead. Do not harm a hair of his Afro.’”

“They let Jimi go,” he concludes. “The whole thing lasted maybe two days. Jimi was so stoned, he probably didn’t even know he was ever kidnapped. Andy and I waited a week or so and went after these kids. We gave them a beating they would never forget.”

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