On July 17, 1967, one of the oddest musical pairings in history comes to an end when Jimi Hendrix dropped out as the opening act for teenybopper sensations The Monkees.
The booking of psychedelic rock god Jimi Hendrix with the made-for-television Monkees was the brainchild of Hendrix’s manager, Mike Jeffery, who was seeking greater public exposure for a young client who was a budding star in the UK, but a near-unknown in his native United States. It was in the UK, in fact, that Monkee Mike Nesmith first heard a tape of Hendrix playing while at a dinner party with John Lennon, Paul McCartney and Eric Clapton. Nesmith and his fellow Monkees Peter Tork and Mickey Dolenz became instant Jimi Hendrix fans, and after witnessing his legendary performance at the Monterey Pop Festival in June 1967, they encouraged their own manager to invite the little-known but highly respected Jimi Hendrix Experience to join their upcoming U.S. tour.
Hendrix himself appears to have had no direct input on the decision, though he’d made his opinion of the Monkees clear several months earlier in an interview with Melody Maker magazine: “Oh God, I hate them! Dishwater….You can’t knock anybody for making it, but people like the Monkees?” Nevertheless, Hendrix joined the tour in progress in Jacksonville, Florida, on July 8. Predictably, the reception given to the now-legendary rock icon by the young fans of the bubblegum Monkees was less than worshipful. As Mickey Dolenz later recalled, “Jimi would amble out onto the stage, fire up the amps and break out into ‘Purple Haze,’ and the kids in the audience would instantly drown him out with ‘We want Daaavy!’ God, was it embarrassing.”
Jimi Hendrix managed to get through a total of only seven dates with the Monkees, culminating in his final show on July 17, 1967, which may or may not have ended with Hendrix saluting the crowd with his middle finger. There was no truth to the widely circulated rumor that he’d been kicked off of the tour after protests by the Daughters of the American Revolution that his show was “too erotic.”