Misc Jimi Hendrix Olympia 1966

Published on August 28th, 2023 | by AlexandreG.


The Jimi Hendrix Experience’s “French Tour”: Iconic Opening for Johnny Hallyday

The 1960s were a decade of musical experimentation and groundbreaking evolution. Among its most intriguing chapters is the unlikely alliance that formed between Jimi Hendrix and Johnny Hallyday. In 1966, The Jimi Hendrix Experience made their French debut, lending their psychedelic vibes as the supporting act for the renowned French Yé-Yé superstar, Johnny Hallyday.

The first time Johnny Hallyday heard of Jimi Hendrix

Hallyday, reminiscing about the initial encounter, shared, “You know, he was my opening act for a while. I discovered him in London at a club one night. I was with Otis Redding, and we were eating at the restaurant of the club, and we heard that incredible guitar. We went to see who was playing, and it was Jimi. I was about to start a tour in Europe, and I needed an opening act and said, ‘Do you want to do it?’ And he said, ‘Yeah.’ So he toured with me for six months, and we became friends.

The Jimi Hendrix Experience French Tour: A Debut to Remember

The Jimi Hendrix Experience, with its magnetic energy, debuted in Évreux, France, on October 13, 1966. Spanning four iconic dates known as “The French Tour,” the band played alongside Long Chris, The Blackbirds, and culminated their journey supporting Johnny Hallyday. Their final act was at the renowned Parisian venue, Olympia, on October 18, 1966. This wasn’t just another concert; it was the first time the world would hear The Jimi Hendrix Experience on record!

While the setlists from the initial three dates remain a mystery, they’re believed to have featured covers like “Hey Joe”, “Killing Floor”, and “Land of a Thousand Dances”. Concluding the tour with a bang, the band played “Wild Thing” at the Olympia, sealing their place in rock history.

Johnny’s soulful French ballads, such as “Noir c’est noir”, provided a stark yet harmonious contrast to Hendrix’s raw energy. Both acts together presented a sonic experience that was both diverse and electrifying.

Soon after their French rendezvous, The Jimi Hendrix Experience debuted in the U.K., swiftly ascending the ranks to become one of the world’s most influential rock acts. Their impact was not just limited to rock but echoed across genres, with their legacy growing even stronger over time.

Johnny, Chas Chandler (bassist for The Animals and Hendrix's producer), and Jimi Hendrix at Café Foy in Nancy on October 14, 1966.
Johnny, Chas Chandler (bassist for The Animals and Hendrix’s producer), and Jimi Hendrix at Café Foy in Nancy on October 14, 1966.
Credit: L’Est Républicain

Why Jimi hendrix tour with Johnny Hallyday?

Johnny Hallyday, often dubbed the “French Elvis,” was a massive star in France and other French-speaking countries. In 1966, Hallyday invited Jimi Hendrix to be the opening act for him on a French tour. At that time, Hendrix was not yet the legendary figure in rock history as he is known today, but he was quickly garnering attention for his virtuosic guitar skills and stage presence.

The decision to have Hendrix as an opening act was somewhat of a promotional move by Hallyday’s team. The intention was likely to boost the tour’s appeal by including the explosive and exciting act that was the Jimi Hendrix Experience. The collaboration exposed Hendrix to a wider French audience and gave him a platform to showcase his talents in a country that was just getting to know him.

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In 1966, the TSR team is on tour with Johnny Hallyday. In a restaurant in Nancy, a young American guitarist playfully blows smoke rings in front of the camera. His name is Jimi Hendrix!

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