The Time Jimi Hendrix Lit His Guitar On Fire and then Smashed It On Stage
The Ultimate Guitar Showmanship
It was one of the performances that changed rock history.
During the Monterey Pop Festival in 1967, several burgeoning acts in the lineup wanted to use the event to gain traction and help catapult themselves into a new stratosphere of stardom. As for Jimi Hendrix, he conquered the event and became everyone’s guitar hero.
The three-day concert event already saw epic numbers from Janis Joplin and Otis Redding. But Hendrix was not about to be outdone. With monster sounds, Hendrix showed from the get-go that he wasn’t messing around. But more than the songs and his face-melting guitar playing, Hendrix took his seminal performance a notch higher by pouring lighter fluid on his black Fender Stratocaster and then setting it on fire.
Watching from the crowd with Mama Cass, The Who’s Pete Townshend recalled:
“He started doing this stuff with his guitar. She turned around to me, and said to me, ‘He’s stealing your act.’ And I said, ‘No, he’s doing my act’.”
It wasn’t the first time Hendrix set his guitar ablaze but it was the one that became memorable and historical. He was trying to outperform Pete Townshend’s guitar smashing and he accomplished exactly that. Some were shocked, others were floored. Either way, Hendrix got people talking even decades later.