Tag Archives: Jimi Hendrix

Jimi Hendrix Quits Monkee Tour

Jimi Hendrix Quits Monkee Tour

July 17, 1967

Jimi Hendrix Quits Monkee Tour

Jimi Hendrix Quits Monkee Tour

Everyone Loves Hendrix?

Young visitors to the Museum at Bethel Woods Center for the Arts (where Woodstock was, not where Woodstock is), often bemoan the fact that they weren’t born for that famous festival. That they would have done anything to attend.

I don’t disagree with their wish, but I will point out that despite his fame today, Jimi Hendrix was not beloved by every young person when he initially appeared on the American scene.

Hendrix first became famous, at least in a small corner of America, at the Monterey International Pop Festival in June 1967 when the next day’s headlines read: Hendrix Sets Monterey Afire.

Jimi Hendrix Quits Monkee Tour

Of course the Monkees

To say that the Monkees were very popular in 1967 is an understatement. The Colgems label had released their debut album, The Monkees, on October 10, 1966. It became Billboard’s #1 album on November 12. It remained there  until February 10, 1967! 124 days. What replaced it? Their second album, More of the Monkees, which remained the number one album until June 16…126 more days! Those numbers exceed the Beatles’ opening days in 1964.

Mike Jeffery was Hendrix’s manager and wanted to capitalize on that popularity with his emerging star. How better to do that than hitch Hendrix onto Comet Monkees?

While the Monkees may have been an assembled act whose members were actors more than musicians, that didn’t mean those members didn’t like music. Micky Dolenz, the Monkees’ drummer, had first heard about Jimi Hendrix and seen him in the Village before Hendrix even went to the UK under the aegis of Animal bassist Chas Chandler.

Jimi Hendrix Quits Monkee Tour

The idea is hatched

Dolenz and fellow Monkee Peter Tork saw Hendrix at Monterey. Tork wasn’t impressed…

…but Dolenz was and he recommended the two groups get together on the Monkees upcoming  28-city tour.

Jimi Hendrix Quits Monkee Tour

Quit

It didn’t go well because, as I’ve said, not every young person in 1967 was ready for or wanted to experience Jimi Hendrix. Had the Jefferson Airplane, the Who, or Joan Baez opened for the Monkees, the results would have been the same: kids repeatedly yelling “We want the Monkees!”

Hendrix’s presence thrilled the Monkees, but eight shows into the tour, Hendrix left.

Obviously the Experience didn’t make the date announced in the above radio spot.

Jimi Hendrix Quits Monkee Tour
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Hendrix Sets Monterey Afire

Hendrix Sets Monterey Afire

June 18, 1967
from Monterey movie trailer: Mike Bloomfield followed by Eric Burdon’s song.

Hendrix Sets Monterey Afire

Hendrix Sets Monterey Afire

Day 3

The Monterey International Pop Festival was in its third day. The first day had included Simon and Garfunkel, Eric Burdon and the Animals. The second day included future Woodstock performers Canned Heat, Country Joe and the Fish, Jefferson Airplane, Janis Joplin with Big Brother and the Holding Company, and the Butterfield Blues Band (I wonder how much those bands being part of Monterey influenced Woodstock Ventures to include them two years later?).

The third and final day’s lineup included Big Brother again because the organizers really wanted Janis in the film they were making and had finally convinced the band to let them film their performance. Other future Woodstockers were The Who, Ravi Shankar, the Grateful Dead…

Hendrix Sets Monterey Afire

No bells

Few if anyone realized what they would witness that evening. The crowd may have seen the name Jimi Hendrix Experience listed, but like someone today seeing the name The Paupers,  the name rang no bells.

Hendrix’s stateside story had been one as a sessions musician and briefly in Greenwich Village fronting his own group. His fortuitous move to England under the wing of Chas Chandler unlocked the door to success. The Beatles were also instrumental: Jimi Hendrix Plays Sgt Pepper.

Hendrix Sets Monterey Afire

9 song set

Hendrix played nine songs that night. Four his own, five (*) covers:

  1. Killing Floor*
  2. Foxy Lady
  3. Like a Rolling Stone*
  4. Rock Me Baby*
  5. Hey Joe*
  6. Can You See Me
  7. The Wind Cries Mary
  8. Purple Haze
  9. Wild Thing*
Hendrix Sets Monterey Afire

Hey Joe

Selecting one of those songs, “Hey Joe,” one sees encapsulated what left the crowd lost in amazement. Had they ever witnessed another performance anything like this?

The outfit, the hair, the upside down guitar, gum-chewing, the swagger, how those fingers moved, how that tongue stuck out and wiggled, those teeth played the guitar, behind the back, how that guitar became a phallus, and by the way, the demonic drumming and bass playing pulling us into this maelstrom.

Here is the video of “Hey Joe.”

         Hendrix Sets Monterey Afire

Climax

And if that weren’t enough, the set closes with destruction. We’d seen The Who smash things up. Some of us already knew about that so it was cool, but no surprise, but setting a guitar of fire? Who is this and where am I?

Hendrix Sets Monterey Afire

Pictures

While Hendrix was lucky enough (as were the other performers) to have his performance well-filmed and recorded, there were other still photographers there, too.

Ed Caraeff was only 17 when he took his iconic photo of Jimi Hendrix setting his guitar on fire at the 1967 Monterey International Pop Music Festival. In his Caraeff’s book, “Burning Desire: The Jimi Hendrix Experience Through the Lens of Ed Caraeff,” the he brought together never-before-seen images from the two years he spent shooting Hendrix’s performances.

Hendrix Sets Monterey Afire
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Jimi Hendrix Plays Sgt Pepper

Jimi Hendrix Plays Sgt Pepper

or

A Yankee in King Arthur’s Court

June 4, 1967

Hendrix @ Olympia, London December 1967

Jimi Hendrix Sgt Pepper
January 29, 1967 The Beatles watch Hendrix
Jimi Hendrix Plays Sgt Pepper

Geniuses plus

We all acknowledge the genius of  both the Beatles and Jimi Hendrix, but we typically don’t associate the two together. Hendrix famously covered Dylan’s “All Along the Watchtower,” but not Beatle songs.

Ironically the British Beatles, particularly Paul McCartney, helped put the Yankee Jimi Hendrix on the American map.

Jimi Hendrix Plays Sgt Pepper

Long time coming

The talented Hendrix had already been an excellent guitarist backing up the Isley Brothers, Rose Lee Brooks, Little Richard, and Curtis Knight.  In 1966 in  Greenwich Village, he fronted Jimmy James and the Blue Flames, but it’s lack of success made it an easy decision for him to accept Chas Chandler’s offer to come to the UK. Chandler had just left the Animals and in the UK was able to connect Hendrix with various members of the British rock royalty such as Eric Clapton (nearly speechless after his initial experience hearing Hendrix),  Pete Townshend, and Paul McCartney.

Jimi Hendrix Plays Sgt Pepper

Great Britain

Noel Redding came into Hendrix’s orbit because Redding was auditioning as a guitarist for the renovating Animals. Mitch Mitchell, a jazz drummer, fit the type of power trio Chandler and Hendrix were building.

Jimi Hendrix Plays Sgt Pepper

Beatles

The Beatles had completed recording Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band on April 21, 1967 and the world received it on June 1. How Hendrix first heard the album, whether he purchased his own copy or Paul McCartney had given an copy to him, isn’t important. What is interesting was the Experience’s opening number at their concert only three days later: “Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Heart’s Club Band.” Hendrix may not have even known that McCartney and Harrison were in the audience.

Jimi Hendrix Plays Sgt Pepper

Monterey Pop invitation

Even more important was what Hendrix did two weeks later at the last when he played the Monterey International Jazz and Pop Festival and changed American music forever.

Why was he playing that event? The festival’s organizers had invited the Beatles to play, but they declined as they still did not want to be on a live stage. They did do an illustration for the event:

Jimi Hendrix Plays Sgt Pepper

Jimi Hendrix Plays Sgt Pepper

Recommendation

Paul McCartney and the Beatles did something else. McCartney strongly recommended the “unknown” Jimi Hendrix Experience. And who would say no to a Beatle recommendation?

Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr had first seen The Jimi Hendrix Experience performing on 11 January 1967 at the Bag O’Nails club in London.

So it was on June 4, 1967 that McCartney, George Harrison, Jane Asher and Pattie Boyd watched them headline a bill at the city’s Saville Theatre.

Jimi Hendrix Plays Sgt Pepper

Beatles > Jimi

Thank you Jimi. Thank you Paul and the Beatles. We may have heard Jimi on this side of the pond without your help, but we certainly did because of your help.

Jimi Hendrix Plays Sgt Pepper
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