The First Monterey International Pop Festival

Originally published 13 April 2656
by Dr. Veronica “Sunshine” Drew,
Temporal Anthropologist with the University of California, Berkeley

I have been studying the Hippie Culture of the 1960 & 70s. It was an amazing time full of dreamers and rebels, all brave and incredibly naïve. One of the high points of that era was the Summer of Love in 1967 when young people congregated in the Haight-Ashbury District of San Francisco to create a better society based on peace and love. It didn’t work out, but for a few months there were hopes.

Hippie Bus
The beginning of the Summer of Love was kicked off by the first rock concert in history--The First Monterey International Pop Festival held June 16-18th. Okay, yeah I know about San Francisco’s KFCR Radio station’s Fantasy Fair and Magic Mountain Music Festival held the week before, but it didn’t go that well. I mean the crowd was cool and everything, but the festival had been postponed from the previous week because of rain, so several groups couldn’t make it because they had other bookings that weekend. Many historians consider this the first rock concert in history. Even though 36,000 people attended, it was pretty much forgotten.

The Monterey International Pop Festival had nice weather, nearly all the acts could make it and 90,000 people were their at it’s midnight climax on Sunday at the Monterey Fairgrounds. Also some guys taped it and put some of the acts together in a movie so million of people got to watch part of the festival. The acts were out of order so a lot of people think Ravi Shankar closed it on Sunday afternoon since he was the last performer in the movie. This also includes people who were actually there but were too high to remember much.

Jimi Hendrix setting his guitar on fire
He left the amplifier on so you could hear it!
The festival was organized by record producer Lou Adler, John Phillips with The Mamas and the Papas, producer Alan Pariser and Derek Taylor, the publicist for The Beatles. The Beatles couldn’t make it because, since their Sergeant Pepper Lonely Hearts Club Band album, their music had gotten just too complex to perform outside of the studio. The Kinks and Donovan couldn’t come because of problems with U.S. Immigrations. However the bands that did make it would make any music historian drool. The whole festival was started as a way to show the world that Rock was real music and not just noise. And to prove it they put the festival on for free.

The festival started Friday with The Association singing Cherish and Along Comes Mary. Other acts that night included Lou Rawls, Johnny Rivers, Eric Burdon and The Animals and ended with Simon and Garfunkel Feeling Groovy.

Saturday was the first major performance of Janis Joplin, lead singer for Big Brother and the Holding Company. Watching her belt out “Ball and Chain” was amazing. Even more entertaining was watching Cass Elliott of The Mamas and the Papas in the front row watching Janis. Cass is one heck of a singer herself, but Janis made her jaw drop. That performance got the Holding Company national attention and a major contract.

Also performing on Saturday were Canned Heat, Country Joe and the Fish, The Butterfield Blues Band, Steve Miller Band, Moby Grape, The Byrds, Jefferson Airplane and Booker T. & the M.G.’s. It ended with Otis Redding. A star on the R&B circuit, this was the appearance that introduced him to a larger audience. I couldn’t help but cry as he sang in that incredible voice. I knew he would die in a plane crash that following December. His song Sitting on the Dock of the Bay would become the first posthumous number-one record on both the Billboard Hot 100 and R&B charts. Otis was a rising star who wouldn’t live long enough to see his own zenith.
A statue of "Otis Redding Sitting on the Dock of the Bay"
Later erected in San Francisco
Ravi Shankar kicked off Sunday by playing his sitar for four hours straight. Man, that cat’s fingers were flying! Many of the musicians from other bands just watched him in awe. Buffalo Springfield with David Crosby (later of Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young) and the Grateful Dead also performed. Janis Joplin was brought back on for a repeat performance. The Who, in their first American performance, brought down the house when Pete Townsend smashed his guitar. Not to be outdone, Jimi Hendrix, set his own guitar on fire before smashing it.

The Who at Monterey
The Festival ended with Scott McKenzie singing San Francisco (Be Sure to Wear Flowers in Your Hair) the anthem of the Summer of Love, followed by The Mama and the Papas singing Dancing in the Streets. We were sure all dancing in the fairgrounds!

Considering the crowd and their excitement, the whole festival went without problems. Even the Monterey Police were surprised. They had come to keep the peace and were greeted with peace, as kids gave them flowers. The theme of the festival after all was peace and love.

Someone gave me flowers for my own hair. Both men and women wore them. Most of the guys had mustaches and sideburns. People were dressed in peasant, Native American and Victorian garb in a strange sort of mish-mash. I swear there was this one hippie with a mustache and sideburns, dressed in a top hat and frockcoat that could have passed for Dr. Wendell Howe’s twin! I’m sure you remember he’s the temporal anthropologist with the University of Cambridge. Of course, Dr. Howe was somewhere in the Victorian Age at the time.

It was an amazing weekend and I was careful to record all of it with the vid camera in my yellow sunglasses. And if I could figure out a way to keep from bumping into myself, I would love to go again! It was so outta sight!

 Monterey - Eric Burdon’s tribute to the festival showing the fairgrounds.

Performances from the First Monterey International Pop Festival

Janis Joplin belting out Ball and Chain
(Yes, the lady in the sunglasses in the audience with the dropped jaw is Cass Elliott)

Ravi Shankar with more scenes from the festival crowd

Otis Redding singing I’ve Been Loving You Too Long

Simon and Garfunkel (That’s John Phillips introducing them)

The Association doing Along Comes Mary

Butterfield Blues Band performing Drifting Blues

Buffalo Springfield with For What It’s Worth.
The Intro is by Peter Tork (No, the Monkees did not perform.)

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