Hendrix burns his guitar | Jim Marshall

The first time Jimi tried to burn his guitar (London Astoria, March 31st 1967), he suffered hand burns and was hospitalized. Despite having bruised his ego a little, the move made Jimi Hendrix very popular internationally as an icon of that swinging generation.

With the help of Paul McCartney, the Jimi Hendrix Experience was given a chance to perform in Monterey International Pop Festival. It was their chance to crack the American audience, which had previously rejected their first single. There were not only a large audience but also many journalists.

At its finale, Jimi Hendrix squirted lighter fluid onto his Stratocaster, smashed it, and set it on fire. The above photos taken by Jim Marshall, and a film footage immortalized in the documentary Monterey Pop, made Hendrix an international icon. The photos later made Hendrix’s album covers and Rolling Stones put it on the cover for its 20th anniversary issue (below).

Jim Marshall himself was an icon. A confidante of many rock ‘n’ roll stars, he was given extraordinary access. He was the only photographer allowed backstage for the Beatles’ 1966 farewell concert in San Francisco. A balladeer of very visual San Francisco Bay Area music scene, Marshall also photographed everyone who was someone: from Rolling Stones to the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Led Zeppelin to Limp Bizkit. His many iconic photos included those of Janis Joplin and her whiskey bottle backstage, Bob Dylan following a stray tire down a New York street, concert-goers queuing outside The Matrix, Jefferson Airplane cover Volunteers, Johnny Cash showing his middle finger at San Quentin prison, and double portraits that brought together Joplin and her rival Grace Slick.

Jim Marshall refused to put any identifying numbers on his photos, making some of them almost impossible to date. Marshall died in March 2010. The New York Times put together a great slideshow of his photos. See Marshall’s other photos on his website.

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