It’s hard to imagine a time in the history of music when Jimi Hendrix wasn’t the monolith that he is today. But in the spring of 1967 – a time teetering on the edge of the Summer of Love – Hendrix was merely a buzzy underground club act, playing shows in London with the Jimi Hendrix Experience with two moderately successful singles behind him: Purple Haze and Hey Joe.
In the summer of 1967 – that luminous Summer of Love – The Jimi Hendrix Experience went on their biggest tour ever (albeit a brief one) with a surprising act – The Monkees.
Hendrix still hadn’t managed to break through in his homeland of America. Then, in mid-67′ his luck began to turn when Paul McCartney (who had recently been awed by his performance at the Saville Theatre in London) suggested Hendrix to the organisers of Monterey Pop Festival.
It was there that Hendrix made his first big impression on America, blowing the audience away with his virtuosic guitar playing, sexual potency, and of course, dramatic stage presence – it was here that Hendrix famously lit fire to his guitar. Following the show, the Los Angeles Times asserted that, upon leaving the stage, Hendrix “graduated from rumour to legend”.
His Monterey performance put him in the spotlight in a way he hadn’t experienced before, and as a result Hendrix was booked on a number of primo slots in San Fransisco and L.A. He was also booked on a tour – albeit a brief one – with a band which in retrospect seems so unlikely: The Monkees.
The folks at Great Big Story have made an excellent little semi-animated doco about the tour titled, That Time Jimi Hendrix Opened for The Monkees.
While the pairing of the bands probably seemed like a good idea at the time, with The Monkees being at the top of their game and Hendrix a rising star, it was a tour that was never meant to be: Hendrix and his band left after just six shows.
Watch the video below.