July 23, 2024

On this day 57 years ago… one of the stranger double bills occurred. The Jimi Hendrix Experience opened for The Monkees.

At this point in time, The Monkees were the hottest band in North America. Called the pre-fab four, they didn’t write their own songs nor played on their records. Those chores were handled by top-flight songwriters and L.A.’s best session musicians. The Monkees also had a hugely successful T.V. show. Inspired by The Beatles film “A Hard Day’s Night,” they romped through each chaotic episode with a featured song dropped in regardless of the plot… such as it was. No matter, The Monkees quickly became teen and pre-teen idols.

The Seattle-born Jimi Hendrix was from a different realm. After working as a backing guitarist for Little Richard, among others, and fronting his own bands, Hendrix was spirited to London where he was teamed with bassist Noel Redding and drummer Mitch Mitchell – The Jimi Hendrix Experience was born. His guitar playing and onstage theatrics were extraordinary building a stellar reputation for music and showmanship. Now it was time to conquer America. A gig at the Monterrey International Pop Festival was the launching pad.

The Monkees Micky Dolenz and Peter Tork witnessed Hendrix’s groundbreaking festival performance. ‘We gotta get this guy,'” Dolenz enthused. “Micky was just enthusiastic about his music,” Tork added. Contracts were signed and the tour got underway.

A soon to be psychedelic guitar legend opening for a teenybop pop/rock band. What could go wrong?

“It didn’t cross anybody’s mind that it wasn’t gonna fly,” noted Tork.

“Jimi would amble out onto the stage, fire up the amps and break into ‘Purple Haze,’ and the kids in the audience would instantly drown him out with, ‘We Want Davy (Jones, The Monkees main heartthrob),” recalled Dolenz. “God, it was embarrassing.”

Soon Hendrix decided enough was enough and asked to be released from his contract.

The Experience played only eight shows opening for The Monkees before moving on. They were deemed a little too “out there” for The Monkees’ audience. Nobody was too upset, the incident garnered the Experience a whole lot of notoriety.

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