The Monterey Pop Festival of 1967
The Monterey Pop Festival was, in many ways, a precursor to the psychedelic, flower child generation for many of the young adults during the 1960’s.
The Monterey Pop Festival took place for three days in June of 1967 and was a pre-Woodstock festival, which was full of love, good vibrations, drugs, and music. During the mid-1960’s, a new musical and cultural happening was beginning in San Francisco’s Haight-Ashbury district and other places like Greenwich Village in New York.
This new underground culture was bohemian in nature and growing fast among many young people who were seeking a different lifestyle, culture, and newfound freedom than what their parents experienced.
Monterey Pop Festival was the beginning of many festivals and musical events catered to the new musical sounds of the 1960’s.
The festival was held at the Monterey County Fairgrounds in Monterey, California. Along with a couple of other influential people, popular music mogul, Lou Adler, and John Phillips of the popular 60’s group, The Mamas and The Papas, created the festival.
The festival was designed by popular band members who wanted to showcase some of the best and most promising artists of the mid-1960’s and create a festival or concert atmosphere that gave this new music sound great exposure, bringing it from underground to mainstream. Some of the people on the festival committee included members from the Beatles and theBeach Boys.
Except for Ravi Shankar, a musical artist from India, all the artists that were chosen to perform at the festival were not paid and any money that was given was donated to charity.
Another fact about the concert is that there were no deaths, no riots, no injuries, no violence, and no arrests, which was an unbelievable feat for any concert, festival, or even public gathering.
Monterey Pop Festival was unique as a concert and was also unprecedented because there were no problems. Unfortunately, concerts to follow were not so fortunate. Monterey was the exception to the rule for most rock concerts.
However, the strange thing about it and maybe this had something to do with the newness of rock concerts, a very laidback atmosphere, and perhaps not as much publicity or lack of publicity or concern at the time about drug use among the “hippie” generation was the reason why there were no arrests for drugs.
If you watch the video of the festival it is very obvious that there is a definite amount of drug usage. Plus, it has been noted by artists interviewed in the video that acid or LSD were dropped over the crowd, so one couldn’t help but encounter the affects of the drug.
More than 200,000 people attended the festival, including many artists, music critics, and record company executives, who were sizing up the new artists.
The festival was noted as the height of the “Summer of Love”. The long and, now impressionable, list of artists that performed included, Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, The Who, The Animals, Simon and Garfunkel, The Byrds, Jefferson Airplane, Booker T and the MGs, Otis Redding, Buffalo Springfield, The Mamas and The Papas, and the Grateful Dead, just to name a few.
The festival was a combination of different types of music genres including jazz, blues, soul, R&B, classical, psychedelic, pop, and rock music, not to mention groups from all over the world.
Many of the bands were not known outside of the San Francisco bay area or had received very little publicity prior to the festival, but after the festival any unknown artists because an instant success and their popularity increased greatly.
Some of the artists that received major fame and fortune after their appearance at the Monterey Pop Festival included Jimi Hendrix, who was the biggest star at the festival and the biggest surprise, Janis Joplin, and Otis Redding. Although Otis Redding was already popular among the R&B crowd and fans, he became very popular among mainstream America.
The Monterey Pop Festival was the first major rock concert ever and was the model of rock concerts and festivals that followed. Unlike Woodstock, the Monterey Pop Festival was highly organized and professional, it was not plagued by problem after problem everyone cooperated, including the crowd.