Did the DAR really force Jimi Hendrix off the Monkees tour?

One of the biggest shifts in rock history came in July 1967 when the Jimi Hendrix Experience embarked on a massive opening US tour for the Monkees – and quickly ended eight days later. , with Hendrix leaving the ill-fated trek on July 17, 1967, after playing just seven shows.

It wasn’t for lack of effort or affection from the headliners. Both Micky Dolenz and Peter Tork had seen Hendrix deliver a star performance at the Monterey Pop Festival a month earlier. While Tork later admitted he “didn’t understand,” Dolenz was positively in love and urged the Monkees camp to contact Hendrix’s team to take the guitar hero on the road with them.

“I mentioned to our producers at the time – we were looking for an opening act for our first big world tour – and I said, ‘What about these guys? Because they were very theatrical,” Dolenz told UCR in 2021. “Let’s face it, the Monkees were a theatrical act. I guess they liked the idea and we liked the idea, and that’s it. “

Hear the Monkees perform “Last Train to Clarksville” live in 1967

It was a bold move for the Monkees, the unapologetic, made-for-TV pop-rock band whose audiences were largely made up of teenage girls and the exasperated parents who chaperoned them. Hendrix attracted an older, rowdier, and decidedly less white crowd with his psychedelic hard rock, hippie regalia, and (literally) pyrotechnic antics. The two artists thus mixed oil and water.

Speaking of water: “Oh my God, I hate ’em! Dishwater,” Hendrix told the New musical express several months earlier when asked about the Monkees. “I really hate someone like that for making it so big. You can’t kick somebody for doing that, but people like the Monkees?”

Despite Hendrix’s open disdain for the Monkees – and the fact that no one in his camp except manager Michael Jeffery, knowing a good publicity stunt when he saw one, was enthusiastic about the tour offer – the trek began July 8 in Jacksonville, Florida. went exactly as badly as any reasonable observer could have expected.

“Jimi would come on stage, turn on the amps and come in ‘Purple Haze’, and the kids in the audience would instantly drown him out with ‘We Want Davy [Jones]!!’ God, that was embarrassing,” Dolenz wrote in his autobiography, I am a believer: my life of monkeys, music and madness. “Parents probably weren’t too crazy to have to attend a Monkees concert, let alone see this black guy in a psychedelic Day-Glo blouse, playing some hell of music, holding his guitar like he was fucking it , then light it on fire.”

Watch Jimi Hendrix perform ‘Wild Thing’ at the Monterey Pop Festival

Hendrix had at least one fan in the audience every night: Michael Nesmith, who used to sneak to the front of the stage and bask in the Experiment’s distorted, acid-washed guitar gusts.

“The first time I saw him was in North Carolina. It was the trio,” Nesmith said in a 1986 MTV interview. wide, and everything was backlit, so it looked like they were on fire. And Jimi turns the guitar around and starts playing the opening lines of ‘Foxey Lady’. I had never heard anything like that in my life It brought me to my knees, took me back a yard, so every night I would sneak out on stage and sit in hiding with all these people yelling, ‘We want the Monkees!’ , listening to this uplifting music this guy was making.”

Nesmith couldn’t listen for long. By the time the tour reached New York for a three-night adventure at the Forest Hills Tennis Stadium, Hendrix had had enough. “There was a sea of ​​pink arms waving and saying, ‘We want the monkeys,'” Nesmith recalled. “And he finally knocked everyone down the bird and mumbled a curse and walked away. Bless his heart.”

After the third New York date and seventh overall, Hendrix asked the Monkees to be released from touring. To conceal the reason for his departure, music critic Lillian Roxon, who was traveling with the tour, issued a tongue-in-cheek press release claiming that the Daughters of the American Revolution had pressured concert organizers to remove Hendrix from the poster, complaining that his music was “too erotic” and “corrupted the morals of American youth”. The indiscriminate press reported it as fact, and the PR stunt became an indispensable, if false, part of the Hendrix mythology.

Listen to the Monkees cover of Jimi Hendrix’s “Purple Haze”

Despite the frosty reception from the teenybopper crowd, Hendrix’s stint opening for the Monkees ultimately paid off, helping to raise his profile in the US just in time for the US release of his debut album, Are you experienced?, the next month. The album became an underground radio sensation, peaked at No. 5 on the Billboard 200, and sold 5 million copies, establishing Hendrix as a superstar. Within a year, the guitar god was headlining crowded arenas and stadiums. The Monkees, meanwhile, continued to pay tribute to him on their tour by playing a snippet of “Purple Haze” every night.

Hendrix’s meteoric rise was inevitable, given his groundbreaking guitar playing, but the Monkees still liked to claim a bit of credit for helping to raise his American profile. “I’m sure Jimi Hendrix would have done very well with or without the Monkees,” Dolenz told UCR. “But I’d like to think maybe it gave him a little boost.”

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