The Reason The Who’s Pete Townshend Refused To Perform After Jimi Hendrix

The Who was founded in 1964, and its most known and famous line-up consisted of Roger Daltrey as the frontman, Pete Townshend as the guitarist and singer, John Entwistle as the bassist, and Keith Moon as the drummer. Daltrey’s iconic vocal talent, Townshend’s feedback and power chord guitar technique, along with Entwistle and Moon’s unmatchable performances, contributed to the band’s increasing popularity and mainstream success.

A few years after The Who’s emergence, another guitarist Jimi Hendrix whose look and guitar playing style would inspire almost every instrumentalist in the world, started appearing on the rock music stage. Hendrix’s talent was discovered by producer and manager Chas Chandler who brought him to the UK and recruited band members for The Jimi Hendrix Experience. The two new bands planned to perform at the same festival.

Jimi Hendrix And The Who’s Appearance On The Monterey International Pop Music Festival

The Monterey International Pop Music Festival took place on June 16 to 18, 1967, at the Monterey County Fairgrounds in Monterey, California. The festival became a milestone event for many musicians and bands, and it was defined as their first major public appearance in the USA. The line-up included The Who, The Jimi Hendrix Experience, Janis Joplin, Otis Redding, and Grateful Dead, with many more.

A short time before the festival, The Who’s Pete Townshend and Jimi Hendrix met for a jam session that turned into a place for intimidation and quarrel between the two musicians about who would perform first. The main reason behind that argument was that the first act would be seen as the original and the second would perform under its shadow since they would have had already affected the audience. Hendrix thought that Townshend wanted to be the first guitar smasher, but The Who icon said he was wrong about it.

In Hendrix words, he said:

“That’s not what you really mean. What you really mean is that you don’t want me to go first. You want to be first up there with the guitar smashing.

Townshend responded:

“Jimi, I swear, that’s not what it’s about.”

They figured out the problem by tossing a coin, and Townshend won, so The Who appeared on the stage before The Jimi Hendrix Experience. The Who had released their second studio album entitled ‘A Quick One’ before the festival, and the show provided good exposure. Also, Pete Townshend’s performance featuring smashing his guitar and slamming the neck against the amps and speakers, Moon kicking over his drum kit, and the band’s use of smoke bombs stunned the festival attendees. Then, it was The Jimi Hendrix Experience’s turn to create an unforgettable experience for them.

The Jimi Hendrix Experience had dropped their debut studio album ‘Are You Experienced’ on May 12, 1967, so the festival was a great chance to promote it. The Rolling Stones’ Brian Jones introduced them, and Hendrix cast a spell on the music lovers with his look, dive-bombing use of the vibrato bar, setting his guitar on fire, and then smashing it on the stage. The guitarist’s show was described as a ‘scene-stealer.’

As a result, Townshend was the first person who shocked the audience with his guitar smashing crazy performance, but most people remembered Hendrix’s groundbreaking appearance on the stage during the festival. Therefore, it seems like even though The Who guitarist won the mini-game, the late guitarist got the audience and music journalists’ appreciation much more than him.