The Human Be-In happened on January 14, 1967 in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park, and was a celebration of the 60s counterculture and hippie movement.
The Be-In was preceded by the Love Pageant Rally, a much smaller event in October 1966 that was staged to protest the banning of LSD, and it was a predecessor to the famous Summer of Love that which brought the hippieculture to national attention and international recognition to Haight Ashbury.
The Human Be-In was announced on the cover of the first issue of the San Francisco Oracle as “A Gathering of the Tribes for a Human Be-In.” Entertainment included Timothy Leary with his his famous phrase “Turn On, Tune In, Drop Out”, Richard Alpert (soon to be more widely known as ‘Ram Dass’), and poets like Allen Ginsberg, who chanted mantras, and Gary Snyder. Security was provided by The Hells Angels, and a host of local rock bands such as Grateful Dead and Quicksilver Messenger Service provided the music. Of course there were plenty of drugs, Owsley “Bear” Stanley provided “White Lightning” LSD to the public.
Allen Cohen, one of the founders of the San Francisco Oracle, later commented on how it brought together philosophically opposed factions of the San Francisco-based counterculture: on one side, the Berkeley radicals, who were tending toward increased militancy in response to the U.S. government’s Vietnam war policies, and, on the other side, the Haight-Ashbury hippies, who urged peaceful protest.
Total attendance was estimated at 20,000 to 30,000, and it set the stage for the larger Summer of Love that brought people in from all over the country and made Haight Ashbury famous.
The Monterey Pop Festival, officially known as the Monterey International Pop Music Festival, ran from June 16 to June 18, 1967. It was the first major rock festival in the world and became the model for future festivals.
The Monterey Pop Festival was held at the Monterey County Fairgrounds in Monterey on June 16 to June 18, 1967. It was the kickoff to the summer season of the Summer of Love. Big pop festivals were new and each was an unpredictable adventure. This one turned out great.
The festival was planned by producer Lou Adler, John Phillips of The Mamas & the Papas, producer Alan Pariser, and publicist Derek Taylor. The festival board also included members of The Beatles and The Beach Boys.
With the exception of Ravi Shankar, the artists all performed for free, and all revenue is donated to charity (live recordings are still generating royalties). Attendance was over 200,000 and Monterey Pop is generally regarded as the model used for planning Woodstock 2 years later.
The Monterey Pop Festival included several groundbreaking performances. It was the first US appearances for Jimi Hendrix who was booked on the insistence of board member Paul McCartney, and The Who, and was the first major public performance for Janis Joplin and Otis Redding.
Monterey Pop Festival Performers
The schedule of performers included most of the top acts of the time, but there were 2 big acts that were noticeably absent. Even though they were among the organizers, The Beach Boys had to cancel because of problems with Brian Wilson’s draft status, and Donovan couldn’t get a visa due to drug problems.
Simon and Garfunkel
Big Brother & The Holding Company
Country Joe and The Fish
The Butterfield Blues Band
Quicksilver Messenger Service
Steve Miller Band
The Electric Flag
Booker T and The MG’s
The Blues Project
Big Brother & The Holding Co
The Group With No Name
The Jimi Hendrix Experience
The Mamas & The Papas
Monterey Pop: The Documentary
Here’s a great documentary video:
– Just like I’ve heard a lot of them, but all at the same time, it’s just gonna be too much. The vibrations are just gonna be flowing everywhere. (“If You’re Going to San Francisco” by Scott McKenzie) The performances that came out of Monterey that really changed careers, but also were so influential they actually changed kind of popular music culture in the late 1960’s over the course of that weekend, would have to have been Janis Joplin, Otis Redding, and Jimi Hendrix.
Those are also the sort of three most generously recorded performances in the film itself and in the case of both the Otis Redding set and the Hendrix set, by that point of the weekend, it was later in the weekend, Pennebaker was recording entire sets. So those two sets exist in their entirety. What is amazing about the Janis Joplin performance and if you watch that, watch very closely, the way that Pennebaker is cutting between the performance and the reaction of the audience and there’s one amazing shot of Cass Elliot of the Mamas and the Papas, watching Janis Joplin perform and she’s slack-jawed.
She can’t believe what she is watching and the only word and you don’t have to hear it, I can’t remember if we do or not, but you can certainly see it, is she says, “Wow!” over Joplin’s performance. – [Otis] Am I right? – The interesting thing about Otis Redding was, Otis Redding was a, more or less, pretty classical soul belter for the time, an enormously gifted one, but the kind of music he was playing was certainly, would seem to be, inconsistent with a lot of the more kinda psychedelic, or pop, or rock music, largely white, that was being performed over the context of the weekend.
So what he brought to it was a vocal performance that was absolutely astounding. (“You Were Tired” by Otis Redding) ♪ You were tired ♪ – But also, it was an indication of the extent to which there seemed to be, at certain points, an attempt to kind of integrate American popular music and it’s a form of integration that unfortunately, by the time a few years later, was much less obvious and you were much less likely to see it in sort of stadium shows.
(audience applauding) But at this point in time, it’s part of the optimism. It is a great performance and of course, Hendrix. Hendrix, what can you say? I mean, Hendrix at Monterey was already a star in England because he’d given up, not getting much of a response for his work in the United States, he’d gone to England.
In England the country went crazy for Jimi Hendrix, yet he was still a largely unknown quantity in America. When he was brought back and he performed at Monterey, describing the performance will never be up to actually just watching the performance, but I would say those three performances were not just great performances, but they were performances that actually changed the way that popular music was being thought about in the United States in the late 1960’s.