Guitar player Jimi Hendrix was known for his lively shows, amazing skills, and amped-up sound, but Hendrix once opened for a band that was his opposite. In 1967, Hendrix became the opening act for the bubblegum pop act, The Monkees.
Hendrix was already popular in the UK, having achieved three top ten UK hits with “Hey Joe,” “Purple Haze,” and “The Wind Cries Mary,” but American fans knew little to nothing about the American born guitarist. Mike Nesmith of The Monkees first heard Hendrix on a tape recording while visiting with John Lennon, Paul McCartney, and Eric Clapton in London, and his fellow bandmate, Micky Dolenz, first saw Hendrix when he played in New York as the lead guitarist for the John Hammond band. Both musicians were very impressed with the young guitarist.
Dolenz and Peter Tork, another Monkee member, saw Hendrix perform at the Monterey Pop Festival in June 1967 along with other notable acts such as The Who, The Grateful Dead, Janis Joplin, Jefferson Airplane, and Otis Redding, to name a few. It was Hendrix’s first major appearance in the United States. When Dolenz and Tork heard Hendrix at the festival, they asked their manager to ask the Jimi Hendrix Experience to join them on their tour that was about to take place around the US.
While it’s not known what input Hendrix had in the decision to join The Monkees (he was not a fan, as he said in an interview months before with the quote, “Oh God, I hate them! Dishwater.”), he did join them in Jacksonville, Florida, on July 8, 1967, where their tour was already going on. The reception for Hendrix was not all that cordial, however, as fans chanted for The Monkees and “Davy” while he played “Purple Haze.” To their credit, The Monkees were big fans of Hendrix and his musicianship and wanted to hear him play, knowing the talent they were seeing. They just didn’t realize their fans wouldn’t quite get what they were listening to.
Hendrix made it through seven dates with The Monkees before calling it quits after a show on July 16, 1967, at Forest Hills Stadium in New York City. He ended his run as the opener with The Monkees with a middle finger to the crowd. A rumor soon circulated that he had been booted from the tour after Daughters of the American Revolution protested his show for being “too erotic,” but there was no truth to it. Hendrix reportedly asked to be let out of his contract, and The Monkees agreed. It became clear that his time with The Monkees had been doomed from the very beginning.