Special thanks to ThisDayinMusic.com.

It had to be one of the strangest pairings in rock and roll history. On this day in 1967, The Jimi Hendrix Experience began a tour as the opening act for… The Monkees. Yes, the cherished guitar god and his group had agreed to support the “Pre-Fab Four” on their American trek. It’s no surprise that the situation didn’t end well – although it had little to do with the relationship between the musicians.

What’s easy to forget is, in the middle of ’67, Hendrix wasn’t yet a rock star in America. Earlier in the year, he’d begun to accumulate a following (especially among rock’s elite) and he’d set his guitar (and the music world) on fire during his appearance at the Monterey Pop Festival. But, the Experience hadn’t scored a mainstream hit in the U.S. yet and they were looking to expand their audience.

Being part of the musical community, the guys in The Monkees were already fans of Hendrix’s music and performances. Micky Dolenz recalled seeing him in New York, while Mike Nesmith was introduced to him through a Beatle.

“I was in London visiting John Lennon, and I was having dinner with him, [Paul] McCartney and [Eric] Clapton,” Nesmith remembered. “And John was late. When he came in he said, ‘I’m sorry I’m late but I’ve got something I want to play you guys.’ He had a handheld tape recorder and he played ‘Hey Joe.’ Everybody’s mouth just dropped open. He said, ‘Isn’t this wonderful?’ So I made a mental note of Jimi Hendrix because Lennon had introduced me to his playing.”

Dolenz and Peter Tork met Hendrix at Monterey Pop, where the seeds were planted for a tour together. Dolenz later said that he viewed both acts as theatrical and that they could be “a perfect union.” The Monkees proposed that the tour promoters contact Hendrix about opening for the band’s summer tour.

Although Hendrix had publicly insulted The Monkees a few months earlier (calling them “dishwater”), he accepted the offer from promoter Dick Clark, presumably because of the huge exposure he would get from the tour. Hendrix and the Experience joined The Monkees on tour on this day in Jacksonville, Florida. While The Monkees were thrilled to have the band on the bill (with members showing up early just to catch Hendrix’s set), Monkees fans were another story.

“Nobody thought, ‘This is screaming, scaring-the-balls-off-your-daddy music compared with The Monkees,’ you know?” Tork said. “It didn’t cross anybody’s mind that it wasn’t gonna fly. And there’s poor Jimi, and the kids go, ‘We want The Monkees, We want The Monkees.’”

Dolenz and Nesmith also recall being embarrassed by their young fans, who would drown out the Experience’s set with cries of “Davy!” (for Monkee heartthrob Davy Jones). Hendrix would stick with the tour for seven dates, before the situation got to him. During a performance at New York’s Forest Hills Stadium, he flipped the crowd his middle finger and walked off stage.

By that point, Hendrix was starting to get traction in America, with “Purple Haze” earning more airplay and making noise on the charts. Wanting to play for people who actually wanted to see and hear him, he asked to be let out of the tour contract – and the Experience and The Monkees parted company amicably. Within the year, Hendrix was one of the biggest rock stars on the planet.

Of course, there is an urban legend that Hendrix didn’t ask to leave the tour; he was kicked out. That rumor (according to Snopes.com) began with music critic Lillian Roxon, who was traveling with the tour. She and a friend came up with a silly press release that claimed the Daughters of the American Revolution had demanded Hendrix’s firing, because his act was “corrupting the morals of America’s youth.” The release was mistaken for the truth, and was reported as fact in many publications, in turn becoming rock and roll legend.