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Hendrix drink is distasteful to some

Some fans object. But Beverage Concepts says it will honor the icon by donating some profit.

January 24, 2007|David Colker and Geoff Boucher | Times Staff Writers

Are you (liquid) experienced?

Jimi Hendrix, who died in 1970, lives on as a rock god -- and an energy drink. His name has been licensed to Beverage Concepts, a new Calabasas company, for a line of nonalcoholic drinks called the Liquid Experience.

The title of the beverage line comes from his breakthrough album, "Are You Experienced?"

Hendrix, who died from a mixture of sleeping pills and red wine, according to his biographer, is one of the most commercialized rock stars.

"Are You Experienced" is also the question emblazoned on a diaper cover in the Hendrix-licensed line of baby clothing. There's also an authorized Hendrix Christmas ornament, air freshener and lava lamp.

This irks some of his ardent fans, including bassist Michael Balzary -- better known as Flea -- of the Red Hot Chili Peppers, who are nominated for album of the year at the upcoming Grammy Awards.

"To see his image and the beautiful feelings it has created during my lifetime cheapened by base advertising," Balzary said, "is very disappointing to me."

But Beverage Concepts Chief Executive Josh Glass, who also created the energy drink Liquid Ice, said his company would honor Hendrix's memory by donating some of the profit from the Liquid Experience to an unnamed music education foundation.

Bruce Kuhlman, who is director of licensing and brand development for Authentic Hendrix, the Seattle-based company that controls use of the late star's name and images on products, said portions of other royalty deals have gone to several educational causes, including the United Negro College Fund.

But Hendrix's biographer, Charles R. Cross, said the nature of the products do matter when they trade on the name of the performer who many in rock still consider the greatest guitarist of all time. "Most of these products have nothing to do with his musical legacy," Cross said.

The drink line will debut in April. Glass said the company aims to eventually bring out other drink lines named for rock legends.

What's next?

Elvis 'King' Cola? Chuck Berry Berry? John Lennon-Lime? Glass would not say.

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