It must be animal week…Monday was spiders…today it is Monkees tearing up the Triad.

Everybody knows who the Monkees were…a made for TV pop group who did covers of other people’s songs and were suspected of not being able to play their instruments…but enormously popular with the teenyboppers.

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The Monkees were not very happy with that description, so engaged in a battle with their handlers to be allowed to write and perform their own songs…at some point they sort of won and produced a number of original hits. But they still suffered the sting of being disrespected as instrumental players…the word was that they were merely a studio group, unable to perform live.

So in late 1966, they decided to disprove their critics by going on the road. That decision would lead them to perform live twice in the Piedmont Triad in a period of barely six months, with the second of those performances becoming one of the most bizarre couplings of an opening band and the headliner in rock ‘n’ roll history.

Phase one began in December, 1966…starting with the Auditorium Arena in Denver and ending at the Cow Palace in San Francisco…twelve venues in 27 days…

December 26: Auditorium Arena, Denver, Colorado
December 27: Mid-South Coliseum, Memphis, Tennessee
December 28: Freedom Hall, Louisville, Kentucky
December 29: Memorial Coliseum, Winston-Salem, North Carolina
December 30: Civic Arena, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
December 31: Cincinnati Gardens, Cincinnati, Ohio
January 1: Municipal Auditorium, Nashville,  Tennessee
January 2: Civic Center Arena, Tulsa, Oklahoma
January 14: Olympia Stadium, Detroit, Michigan
January 15: Public Hall, Cleveland, Ohio
January 21: Memorial Coliseum, Phoenix, Arizona
January 22: Cow Palace, San Francisco, California

And so, on December 29 the Monkees were installed in their rooms at the Robert E. Lee Hotel in downtown Winston-Salem, awaiting an interview with a local reporter. Normally, the Journal would have dispatched their superstar, Roy Thompson, but they were not taking the Monkees seriously, so sent in the second string, Luix Overbea. Luix certainly rose to the occasion.

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A bit later, Rom Weatherman of the Sentinel arrived with one of the Monkees’ biggest local fans in tow.

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The next day, Luix told us what happened at the Coliseum.

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As I have discovered, some who were present at the Memorial Coliseum in Winston-Salem that night are a bit confused as to which bands they saw besides the Monkees. Some are firmly convinced that they also saw the Jimi Hendrix Experience. Unfortunately, they did not. There were three warmup acts, in order:

JewelAkins  Jewel Akens…”Let me tell you ’bout the birds and the bees, the flowers and the trees, and the moon up above and a thing called love.” That was a #3 hit in 1965. Jewel never had another hit.

BobbyHart02Bobby Hart was 2nd. he and his partner Tommy Boyce wrote the Monkees’ first hit, “Last Train to Clarkeville” and had a middling performance career.

Apollas  The Apollas were a bright, shiny girl group from California who never had any real hits, but remained on the scene for a number of years. Note that at this later date, they were performing with Mason Williams, a sort of comic genius.

That was it…three acts and then the Monkees. For those who still have doubts, here is what the Jimi Hendrix Experience was up to that same day:

On December 29, 1966, The Jimi Hendrix Experience arrived at “BBC Lime Grove Studios/Area C”, Lime Grove, London W12 at about 9:30 AM and spent the morning rehearsing. They remained there all day and that night, sometime between 7:30 and 8:00 PM, they performed live one song, “Hey Joe” (3:46), on “Top of the Pops” on BBC1.

The Breakaways (Gloria George, Barbara Moore and Margaret Stredder) were used, offstage, for additional background vocals. The Experience were introduced by DJ Simon Dee. The BBC paid the Experience £78.75 for the performance.

The playlist for the entire show:

Dave Dee & Dozy Beaky Mick & Tich – Save Me [Repeat Performance]
Wayne Fontana – Pamela Pamela [Performance]
Tom Jones – Green Green Grass Of Home [Repeat Performance]
The Who – Happy Jack [Disc]
The Supremes – You Keep Me Hangin’ On [Promo Video]
The Jimi Hendrix Experience – Hey Joe [Performance]
Cream – I Feel Free [Repeat Performance]
The Monkees – I’m A Believer [Promo Video]

There is no video from that performance, and no “official” photographs, but Hendrix experts are 90 something percent sure that the photos below were taken at Lime Grove on December 29, 1966. The BBC forbade photography during the on air performance, so all were taken during rehearsal or rehearsal breaks.

TOTP122966 Rehearsal MadMadWorld

 

Phase two began on June 30, 1967 at the Empire Pool at Wembley in London and ended 59 days later at The Coliseum in Spokane, Washington…34 performances at 28 venues in 59 days.

June 30: Empire Pool, Wembley, London, England
July 1: Empire Pool, Wembley, London, England (2 shows)
July 2: Empire Pool, Wembley, London, England (2 shows)
July 8: The Coliseum, Jacksonville, Florida *
July 9: Convention Hall, Miami Beach, Florida *
July 11: The Coliseum, Charlotte, North Carolina *
July 12: Coliseum, Greensboro, North Carolina *
July 14: Forest Hills Stadium, New York, New York *
July 15: Forest Hills Stadium, New York, New York *
July 16: Forest Hills Stadium, New York, New York *
July 20: Memorial Auditorium, Buffalo, New York
July 21: Civic Center, Baltimore, Maryland
July 22: Boston Garden, Boston, Massachusetts
July 23: Convention Hall, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
July 27: War Memorial, Rochester, New York
July 28: Cincinnati Gardens, Cincinnati, Ohio
July 30: Chicago Stadium, Chicago, Illinois
August 4: St. Paul Auditorium Arena, Minneapolis, Minnesota
August 5: Kiel Auditorium, St. Louis, Missouri
August 6: Veterans Memorial Auditorium, Des Moines, Iowa
August 9: Memorial Auditorium, Dallas, Texas
August 10: Sam Houston Coliseum, Houston, Texas
August 11: State Fair Coliseum, Shreveport, Louisiana
August 12: Municipal Auditorium, Mobile, Alabama
August 13: Olympia Stadium, Detroit, Michigan
August 17: Mid-South Coliseum, Memphis, Tennessee
August 18: Assembly Center Arena, Tulsa, Oklahoma
August 19: Coliseum, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
August 20: Denver Coliseum, Denver, Colorado
August 25: Seattle Center Coliseum, Seattle, Washington
August 26: Memorial Coliseum, Portland, Oregon
August 27: The Coliseum, Spokane, Washington

* = with The Jimi Hendrix Experience

Earlier in 1967, while attending a party in London with Paul McCartney, John Lennon and Eric Clapton, Monkee Peter Nesmith heard a tape that John Lennon had of Jimi Hendrix playing his guitar. At that time, Hendrix was already a star in Great Britain, but had little traction in the USA.

Nesmith and the other Monkees thought they had found the ideal symbiotic relationship. Hendrix needed exposure in the US…they needed a connection with the real thing to give them credence as musicians. Their tour in December-January 1966-67 had produced a huge number one selling song, “I’m A Believer”.  So it was arranged that Hendrix would open for the Monkees during the US phase of their tour.

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Jimi Hendrix and Peter Tork, Miami, July, 1967

That began in Jacksonville on July 8. By then, the Monkees were such huge Hendrix fans that they showed up early to watch Hendrix perform. Nesmith described what it was like touring with Hendrix offstage in the southern part of the tour:

“We would typically go in and take over a wing of a hotel. The police would come and block off the wing, and generally stand guard down the hallway… because we would always attract a large number of people to the hotel. The hallway was lined with probably five or six on either side of these sterotypical Southern police with big beer belly, and different color blue shirts, and a very Southern kind of redneck attitude. I’d just come out of my room, guess it was one or two in the morning. A door opened and there was this kind of eerie blue-red light that came in from it because of the exit sign over it. Hendrix appeared in silhouette, with this light in back of him, and of course his hair was out to here, and he had on what has become his famous ribbon shirt. And he took a step forward, and it was like it was choreographed. Noel and Mitch both came up on either side of him, and they made the perfect trio. It looked like the cover of Axis. None of these guys was very big, and all those cops were like 6’5”, and Hendrix just started walking down the hall with these pinwheels in his eyes. And to see him walk under the nose of these cops, and these guys lookin’ at him going by was something to see. Jimi was in absolute control. He had such a command of himself.”

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They drew huge crowds, 13,000 in Charlotte, then moved on to Greensboro, where they stayed at the legendary Oaks Motel. There Mickey Dolenz snapped a picture of Hendrix with a couple of his band mates. They drew a standing room only crowd that night.

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Oaks Motel, Greensboro, July 12, 1967

But right from the first, there was a problem. As Mickey put it “…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 The Monkees, we want The Monkees.’ ”

So the perfect symbiotic relationship was not so perfect. There were two other warmup acts. As the most important act, The Jimi Hendrix Experience had been placed third, just before the Monkees. But they had come to see that position as the position of death, because by then the Monkees’ teeny bopper fans were out of patience and just wanted to see their idols. So in Greensboro, an experiment was tried. Hendrix went on first. There was a significant improvement in audience reaction. One Experience member said that he even thought the crowd might rush the stage.

But it was too late to save the lineup. After just six performances, the last three at Forest Hills, the Monkees and the Jimi Hendrix Experience came to a reluctant but amicable parting of the ways. There have been many rumors tossed about since then…but zero documentation as to what really happened. And an Australian music critic who was traveling with the bands added fuel to the fire by publishing what she thought was a satirical item, claiming that the Experience was fired because of complaints from the DAR. Unfortunately, her satire went right over many heads and ended up being published nationwide as true. Whatever really happened, the great experiment was over. Just a few months later, the Jimi Hendrix Experience would become the star band, with a budding Pink Floyd as their opening act. Imagine that.

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