Nearly 50 years ago, Jimi Hendrix was detained at an airport in Toronto, Canada, for possessing drugs. The arrest card featuring his signature and fingerprints will be for sale at an auction in March.
On May 3, 1969, a customs agent at Toronto Pearson International Airport found a small amount of heroin and hashish in the guitar icon’s baggage. Hendrix was charged with two counts of illegal possession of narcotics.
RR Auction in Boston is selling the arrest card on March 8, and the auction will run for seven days. According to the company’s vice president, Bobby Livingston, it should sell for around $14,000, the amount an accompanying mug shot sold for in 2006.
The Vancouver Sun notes that the arrest card includes the musician’s full name (James Marshall Hendrix), his date of birth and New York address. It also references his “scar on right eye.” Hendrix’s 10 fingerprints are visible, and his signature is scrawled on the top left corner of the card.
“It’s one of those things I wouldn’t be surprised if it ended up in a museum,” Livingston explained.
The item’s description explains that Hendrix arrived in Toronto on May 3 to play a concert at Maple Leaf Gardens. After being arrested at the airport, he was released on $10,000 bail and went to the show with a police escort.
Hendrix referred to his arrest during the performance by adding a line to his song “Red House:” “Soon as I get out of jail, I wanna see her.”
The illegal possession of narcotics carried a possible 20-year sentence. Hendrix claimed he didn’t know how the drugs ended up in his possession and suggested a fan could have placed it in his luggage. Hendrix’s manager and producer, Chris Chandler, said it wasn’t uncommon for fans to give him gifts, which sometimes included drugs.
Hendrix also testified that he had “outgrown” using drugs. The incident did not sit well with Hendrix, and he was very stressed out by the ordeal leading up to the trial.
He was found not guilty on Dec. 8. He later told journalists: “Canada has given me the best Christmas present I ever had.”
Sadly, Hendrix died of asphyxia less than a year later while intoxicated on barbiturates. He had ingested nine sleeping tablets—18 times the recommended dosage. He was just 27 years old.