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.

Johnny Cash’s Finger

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As he grew old, Johnny Cash came to resent the Nashville country-music establishment, which all but abandoned him and the other aging “country” artists who had defined the genre to embrace new pop-oriented country artists like Garth Brooks. His late album Unchained (1996) was virtually ignored by the establishment.

However, the album won a Grammy for Best Country Album. Cash and his producers American Recordings posted an advertisement in Billboard Magazine with the above image as a “thank you” to the Nashville country music industry after winning the award. The infamous photo of Cash giving the middle finger to the camera was taken back in 1969 during his San Quentin prison performance.

A tireless advocate for the prison reform, Cash began performing concerts at various prisons starting in the late 1960s, leading to two highly successful live albums, Johnny Cash at Folsom Prison (1968) and Johnny Cash at San Quentin (1969). In the latter prison, when Cash performed his prison song “San Quentin” (“I hate every inch of you/May you rot and burn in hell/May your walls fall and may I live to tell”), he nearly caused an uprising. The definitive, iconoclastic image made its way into Cash’s Hollywood biopic, Walk the Line, but the gesture was actually shot during a rehearsal session toward the annoying cameraman, the concert’s official photographer Jim Marshall.