Share this page!

The year 1967 brought us the ‘Summer of Love,’ a time when music was more than just a backdrop—it was the heartbeat of a cultural revolution. During this pivotal summer, three acts—Jimi Hendrix, Cat Stevens, and The Walker Brothers—took to the road, embarking on a tour that would firmly plant their tunes in the annals of music lore. As they traveled, their collective sound became a mosaic of the era’s ethos, with each performance adding to a larger picture of change and inspiring the melodies that would shape generations to come.

Before the Tour

In the bustling music scene of Britain, Jimi Hendrix, the American maestro of the guitar, made a grand entrance that still echoes today. Picture this: a young Jimi Hendrix, blending the heart of blues with the energy of rock and the depth of soul, all wrapped up in a performance that felt like it was from another dimension. His first album, “Are You Experienced,” began as a quiet murmur but soon turned into a roar among young music fans, hinting at the legendary shows that were just around the corner.

Disc Magazine’s Penny Valentine sat down with Jimi Hendrix, capturing his thoughts on the eclectic lineup. Valentine, known for her keen insights into the fabric of the music scene, probed Jimi Hendrix about the upcoming tour with The Walker Brothers and Cat Stevens. Jimi, with his characteristic blend of contemplative cool and avant-garde anticipation, shared:

I’m a bit worried about the type of people who’re gonna see the tour. If they come to see the Walker Brothers, then they’re not going to want us. I just hope they listen—but if they do scream for the Walkers during our act, I’ll just ignore them and play for myself. You get the same sort of mixed bills in the States, like the Beach Boys and James Brown on the same tour.

Then we had Cat Stevens, the gentle voice in the crowd, capturing the thoughtful and reflective spirit of the ’60s. His very first album, “Matthew and Son,” climbed the charts with grace, as if on wings of the words he so carefully crafted. Stevens didn’t just sing; he spoke directly to the heart of a generation eager to find themselves and question everything that had come before.

Rounding out this trio of musical pioneers were The Walker Brothers, the American group that found a second home in the UK’s affection. Known for their rich, well-orchestrated ballads, they provided a soul-stirring contrast to the electric buzz of the age. Their songs were like an anchor, offering a moment of reflection amid the wild dreams of those heady days.

The Tour that Preceded the Monterey Pop Festival

 

The tour opened on March 31, 1967, kicking off in London. It was a carnival of contrasts, with Stevens’s contemplative lyrics opening the evenings, followed by The Walker Brothers’ baritone-led ballads, and culminating in The Jimi Hendrix Experience explosive performances.

Cities like Manchester, Glasgow, and Liverpool buzzed with anticipation as they hosted these diverse acts. The setlists were a study in the spectrum of sound. Cat Stevens would often lead with “I Love My Dog” and “Matthew and Son,” crafting an intimate atmosphere. The Walker Brothers would follow with hits like “The Sun Ain’t Gonna Shine Anymore” and “Make It Easy on Yourself,” their voices enveloping the arenas in warmth.

Then, Hendrix would take the stage, transforming it into a pulsating canvas of psychedelia. Songs like ‘Hey Joe,’ ‘Purple Haze,’ and ‘The Wind Cries Mary’ drew the audience into a collective trance. Venues like the Finsbury Park Astoria bore witness to Jimi Hendrix’s growing penchant for theatricality — his guitar licking flames as he kneeled before it, coaxing the instrument into a frenzied pyre during “Wild Thing,” marking his first guitar-burning incident. This act of destruction-as-creation became a myth-making moment, cementing his image as a rock god.

The Guitar Burning Incident

The scene of Jimi Hendrix’s first guitar burning at the Finsbury Park Astoria would become one of the most iconic moments in rock history. The press response was a mix of shock and fascination. For those on the tour, the burning guitar was more than a stunt; it was a symbol of transformation. The Walker Brothers watched with a mix of shock and admiration, recognizing that a barrier had been broken in how artists could communicate with their audience.

The Tour’s Challenges

 

As the tour progressed, it was not without its tensions and backstage dramas. Jimi Hendrix’s live performances were electrifying, often culminating in the ritualistic destruction of his guitar—a finale that became a signature move and a spectacle that thrilled fans. However, this act of showmanship was not without controversy. In a conversation with Disc Magazine, Jimi Hendrix addressed the discord with the tour management directly, especially with tour manager Don Finlayson:

The tour manager told me to stop using all this in my act because he said it was obscene and vulgar. I have been threatened every night of the tour so far, and I’m not going to stop for him. There’s nothing vulgar about it at all. I’ve been using this act all the way since I’ve been in Britain. I just don’t know where these people get the idea from that it’s an obscene act.

The tumultuous relationship between Jimi and the tour officials was not confined to offstage interactions. In an interview with Melody Maker, Jimi Hendrix shared more of the unsettling details:

We refuse to change our act, and as a result, my amp gets cut off at the funniest times. It’s really funny playing for this tour. Before I go on, I turn around and find a guitar string is broken. Or I find my guitar is all out of tune after I just tuned it – I kinda don’t know what to say about that. They just don’t give a damn about us, but they’re not getting rid of us unless we are officially thrown off the tour.

These incidents painted a picture of a musician at odds with the establishment, a recurring theme in Jimi Hendrix’s career. The challenges he faced on tour, from equipment sabotage to the threat of being expelled, underscored his resolve to maintain artistic integrity and freedom of expression.

Despite these adversities, or perhaps because of them, Hendrix’s commitment to his performance remained undeterred. He continued to pour his soul into every show, ensuring that every strum, every note, and every burned guitar string told a story of rebellion and authenticity. The friction behind the scenes only fueled the fire of his public persona, solidifying his reputation as an artist who would not compromise.

The Enduring Impact

 

The 1967 tour featuring Jimi Hendrix, Cat Stevens, and The Walker Brothers culminated as a vital thread of the ‘Summer of Love.’ It was a testament to the era’s themes of peace, love, and music, but also to its undercurrent of rebellion and change.

Cat Stevens’s career took a turn towards the spiritual, his music increasingly reflecting the quest for deeper meaning that he had begun to explore more earnestly during the tour. His experiences during those days would echo in his later works, full of reflections on life and the human condition.

The Walker Brothers would eventually dissolve their partnership, each venturing into solo careers. Scott Walker, in particular, would become renowned for his avant-garde explorations, pushing the boundaries of pop and rock in profound ways.

Yusuf/Cat Stevens Reflects on Jimi Hendrix Friendship and Tour

Years after the whirlwind of the 1967 tour, Cat Stevens, now known as Yusuf Islam, reminisced about the times he shared with Jimi Hendrix and the surprising friendship that blossomed between them. Yusuf recalled, hinting at the depth of their connection that extended beyond their music. Despite Hendrix’s enigmatic stage persona, Yusuf revealed a different side of the legendary guitarist.

Jimi was probably my closest friend…Him and Englebert, actually, would both kind of hang out together. [Jimi] was basically a quiet, sort of introverted person. Probably he was high on a few things! That’s what made him go within, you know?”

Yusuf’s words paint a picture of Hendrix as a man of contrasts, whose introspective nature belied the explosive creativity and exuberance of his performances. Engelbert Humperdinck’s influence on the young Cat Stevens also left an indelible mark. The camaraderie shared by these artists from vastly different musical realms underscored the tour’s unique atmosphere — one of mutual admiration and shared experiences that defied the expected norms of the day.

FAQs

When did Cat Stevens tour with Jimi Hendrix? Cat Stevens toured with Jimi during the spring of 1967. The tour kicked off on March 31, 1967, in London, and included a series of concerts across the UK.

Who did Jimi Hendrix tour with in 1967? In 1967, Jimi Hendrix toured with his own band, The Jimi Hendrix Experience, as part of a package tour that included acts like The Walker Brothers, Cat Stevens, Engelbert Humperdinck, Pink Floyd, and The Move.

What concert made Jimi Hendrix famous? Hendrix’s performance at the Monterey Pop Festival in June 1967 is often cited as his breakthrough moment. His dynamic and incendiary performance, which famously culminated in him setting his guitar on fire, dramatically increased his popularity and cemented his status as a guitar legend.



 

0 0 votes
Article Rating
Subscribe
Notify of
guest
0 Comments
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments