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The Monterey Pop Festival

Monterey Pop Festival Poster
Monterey Pop Festival Poster

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.


Friday Saturday Sunday
The Association
The Paupers
Lou Rawls
Johnny Rivers
The Animals
Simon and Garfunkel
Canned Heat
Big Brother & The Holding Company
Country Joe and The Fish
Al Kooper
The Butterfield Blues Band
Quicksilver Messenger Service
Steve Miller Band
The Electric Flag
Moby Grape
Hugh Masekela
The Byrds
Laura Nyro
Jefferson Airplane
Booker T and The MG’s
Otis Redding
Ravi Shankar
The Blues Project
Big Brother & The Holding Co
The Group With No Name
Buffalo Springfield
The Who
Grateful Dead
The Jimi Hendrix Experience
Scott McKenzie
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.

Source Link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xbVeU7OVo8U