As more and more tours get announced with the lifting of pandemic orders, we can’t help but look back on some of the strangest opening act and headliner combos in rock history.
Here are five examples that actually happened.
In 1967, the Jimi Hendrix Experience opened for The Monkees. Frankly, it's still amazing this bill was made official, but it is simply one of the strangest bills ever. Considering most of the crowd was there to see The Monkees and likely not old enough to appreciate Hendrix, the group exited the tour after only seven shows, because they were booed every…single…night.
In a similar vein as the Jimi Hendrix Experience/The Monkees, The Who during their first tour of the United States ended up opening for Herman’s Hermits. Coincidentally, a young Bruce Springsteen attended a stop on this tour which he fondly remembered at the 2015 MusiCares MAP Fund benefit honoring Pete Townshend. It was the first rock show The Boss had ever attended, and he said it was a game-changer for him.
This infamous moment happened in August 1974 at the Schaefer Music Festival in New York City’s Central Park. While Springsteen’s star was on the rise, Murray was tearing up the singles charts, so it was decided that Murray would headline, and Springsteen would get an opening 80-minute set. Yeah…big mistake. Imagine going on *after* Bruce Springsteen. We wouldn’t wish that on even our greatest enemies.
While just a one-off show, Brenda Lee's performance at the Star-Club in Hamburg, Germany now lives in infamy, because of her opening act: The Beatles. In an interview with CNN, Lee said after the show, she took a Beatles demo to her label, Decca Records, and tried to score them a record deal. The label reps told her, “That look will never make it, and that sound will never happen.” Oh…how those label reps were kicking themselves a year later.
Psychedelic rock and southern rock are definitely two genres we can’t imagine together on a double bill, but on select dates of a Strawberry Alarm Clock tour in 1968, Lynyrd Skynyrd provided support. As history would have it, Ed King, founding member of Strawberry Alarm Clock, would later join Skynyrd in 1972 and play on the band’s first three albums until his departure in 1975.