Iconic Photos

Famous, Infamous and Iconic Photos

Hendrix burns his guitar | Jim Marshall

with 29 comments

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.

Written by Alex Selwyn-Holmes

June 5, 2010 at 9:55 pm

29 Responses

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  1. Hendrix was a great artist and the visual of him burning the guitar is impressive (also on video).
    I find it interesting to read about the burnt hands in London and the lighter fluid in Montery. lol
    I had a fight with a fan who insisted it was a ‘spontaneous act’ .. even awesomeness is showbusiness :)
    cool blog, been following for a while


    June 5, 2010 at 10:47 pm

  2. Broken family, kicked out of school, dishonorably discharged, denies his own children, steals music from REAL music makers, uses every form of illegal drug imaginable, and 3 years after this photo drowns in his own vomit. Yep, that’s an Icon.

    God help us if this is what our children look up to. I wonder if the same will be said in 40 years about the guy who got the crotch shot of Britney getting out of the SUV.

    Oh wait, Jimmy Hendricks is our President now.


    June 6, 2010 at 9:52 am

    • I don’t know which is sadder – your Mitch Miller-esque, anti-rock rant against one of the most beloved rock musicians ever or your brutal misspelling of his name.

      By the way, yes, we have a Black president now. Deal with this as you must.

      Soul on Ice

      June 7, 2010 at 1:33 pm

    • Eric,
      You don’t have a clue about Jimi Hendrix. He was and is the greatest guitarist ever. He was discharged from the military due to a injury to his back. As far as the use of drugs Jimi was a psychedelics man he used marijuana and LSD. He did not take every illegal drug there was. He used amphetamines and barbiturates because of his extreme insomnia not to get high on. Jimi tried cocaine twice be he did not like the way it made him feel. So basically Jimi used psychedelics and drank alcohol. As far as drowning in his own vomit thats all BULLSHIT! But thats another story. There will never be another Jimi Hendrix! He was pure genius with the guitar and everyone since Jimi has followed in his footsteps. Find out the facts before flapping your yap!

      Oreste Romito

      May 28, 2011 at 3:53 pm

    • Broken family… and all that crap. Who do you think you are to judge people? God? You are just a pathetic meaningless idiot, full of prejudice. I would never burn my guitar, but I never made it to the cover of Roling Stones magazine either, it was a showbusiness act, very inteligent. At least he never gave as the SHIT that present day “artists” dump over. You probably think of Van Gogh as a lunny that cut his own ear. Or of Hemingway as another lunny that commited suicide. And yes, Obama is President, thank God! AND I bet that if Hendrix were president, he would never have fucked up AMERICA, as G W Bush did, thwroing the country into a stupid, self destructive war. Hope you at least keep your family, because a nothing like you probably would not survive alone. Many great artists died in the 60s and early 70s because of drugs. You should understand a little history, before publishing you ignorant comments. (Sorry for probable misspelling errors. English is only the 3rd of the languages I speak).

      Andre Masini

      February 17, 2013 at 2:38 am

    • excuse me sir but, fuck you

    • Hmm, spoken like a true failed guitarist.


      December 19, 2013 at 4:44 pm

    • Im not sure anyone knows who you are eric. Are you are music critic, a writer for rolling stone? Are you a musician from the late sixties? Or are you just some plain old lonley cunt sitting online hating on people because of how alone you really are.

      Educate yourself pal. Im sure its difficult to read but its necessary. Because reading is how we learn. If you are interested in educating yourself about Jimi Hendrix email me at backpagetear@Yahoo.com

      However since I know your probably too pigheaded to email me ill let Jimi put it all into perspective for you.

      “I’m the one that has to die when its time for me to die, so let me live my life, the way I want to.” – Johnny Allen Hendrix

      Joe Graham

      December 26, 2014 at 6:50 pm

  3. Theres nothing wrong with being dishonorably discharged from the military. The military sucks.


    June 6, 2010 at 8:20 pm

  4. I don’t see anything “iconic” in setting fire to your musical instrument. (can’t judge if the photo itself is iconic – it could be, I’m not qualified to judge).

    But there is no inherent meaning, or symbolism, or simply common sense in the act itself – other than a display of a drunken/drag-addled stupor and stupidity. Actually, that could be said about the first instance – the second, with the use of a lighting fluid, shows a drunk sly enough to exploit his past stupidity for monetary gain.

    It’s not witty, or clever, or “impressive” (impressive? and what, pray, is the impression?); it means nothing.


    June 6, 2010 at 11:21 pm

    • I fail to see what kind of “debate” you’re looking for here. History has rendered its judgement…the picture featured is one of the most famous (and, yes, iconic) in popular music history. You may as well argue that the raising of the flag at Iwo Jima isn’t that important as a document of World War II.

      Soul on Ice

      June 7, 2010 at 1:30 pm

      • Who said I’m looking for debate?

        But tell me, since you’re obviously “impressed”: what exactly this act of burning a guitar means to you? Is he protesting? oh, I dunno what…high price of booze? or being dumped by a hooker? or he’s dissatisfied with the quality of his Stratocaster? or maybe it’s Political Activism? Is he objecting to World Hunger, in this exotic and oh so effective way?

        Or simply his crotch is itching and this is a method he chose to scratch it?


        June 7, 2010 at 1:57 pm

      • Also: raising of the flag means something: victory over a ferocious enemy, the end of long and bloody struggle, a unifying moment for the nation.

        What an act of burning a guitar by a musician means? That he doesn’t appreciate the tool of his trade?


        June 7, 2010 at 5:49 pm

    • Since it is obvious you’re a non artist, why bother commenting on Hendrix at all. Leaving a comment on subject you are not qualified in insists debate. Soul on Ice mentions the flag. By your lack of logic burning a flag is meaningless as well. I flew 106 combat missions in Vietnam and killed thousands of people…not a day goes by that I don’t want to burn the flag. And, if, I do it, it will mean something. Hendrix had a hard and short life with only 4 decent years. It isn’t in your capacity to understand what burning his guitar might have meant to him.

      donald james

      March 2, 2011 at 7:48 am

      • “those times i burned my guitar it was like a sacrifice. we all burn things we love. i love my guitar”
        ― Jimi Hendrix

        Cee Jay

        May 15, 2012 at 2:12 pm

  5. what IS this discussion about really ??
    The scene in Montery, is a moment in history and for some (!) these photos are iconic and expression of the music and the feelings of a new generation (back then). you do not have to relate, I am too young myself, but I still get it, and I can kinda accept it to be an interesting document of its time and the people who where around then. What does it MEAN ?

    It’s only Rock’n Roll ! (and I like it)


    June 7, 2010 at 10:52 pm



    July 24, 2010 at 1:43 am

  7. […] for his fashion photography, created the iconic “Aladdin Sane” cover for David Bowie. Jim Marshall’s images of Jimi Hendrix, the Rolling Stones, Johnny Cash and many others helped define their […]

  8. […] would have been with a modern-day LED light show! Perhaps Hendrix wouldn’t have felt the need to set fire to his guitars at the climax of his […]

  9. […] would have been with a modern-day LED light show! Perhaps Hendrix wouldn’t have felt the need to set fire to his guitars at the climax of his […]

  10. […] infamous Jimi Hendrix cover at the Monterey Pop Festival in 1967. Share this:TwitterFacebookLike this:LikeBe the first to like […]

  11. […] captured Jimi Hendrix setting his Fender Stratocaster ablaze at the Monterey International Pop Festival: Through the flames of the Strat, Hendrix rose as a […]

  12. […] captured Jimi Hendrix setting his Fender Stratocaster ablaze at the Monterey International Pop Festival: Through the flames of the Strat, Hendrix rose as a […]

  13. Ed Caraeff took the photograph of Jimi burning his guitar published on the cover of Rolling Stone,
    not Ed’s friend, Jim Marshall.

    Ed Caraeff

    June 21, 2014 at 3:21 pm

  14. Nice post !!


    December 6, 2014 at 3:42 am

  15. Too set the record straight:

    Who cares if Jimi was honorably discharged from the army because of an injury, or as some say kick out because of mast**bating while on guard duty. Also his drug taking..If we condemn music artists by the drugs they took, then every frigging musician would be guilty. you cannot marginalize the collective contribution to music of jimi and others because of past Peccadilloes.

    HA!! Jimi abandoned his kids? What about John Lennon abandoning Julian? Does that make The Beatles less important?

    What about Jimi “stealing” his music? What did he steal?? Many artists played covers, but the bulk of
    Jimi’s music was original. Who then wrote Manic Depression, Are You Experienced, Little Wing, Voodoo Child and on and on…

    Remember, the Beatles, the Stones, the Who, all played covers in the beginning…
    As to Jimi’s importance: Before Monterey, NO ONE had ever played guitar like that. The feedback intro to Wild Thing is the most amazing thing ever recorded..(even his checking the tuning just before the first chord of the song)

    No, Jimi’s guitar has changed EVERYTHING about rock, and NO true rock band can play ANYTHING that was not influenced by JIMI HENDRIX…ask any one out there….

    Steve Harrison

    November 28, 2015 at 5:41 pm

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