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!!! Links to 80 minutes of video from the festival at the bottom of the article !!! 

The Monterey International Pop Music Festival was a three-day concert event held June 16 to June 18, 1967 at the Monterey County Fairgrounds in Monterey, California. Monterey was the first widely promoted and heavily attended rock festival, attracting an estimated 55,000 total attendees with up to 90,000 people present at the event’s peak at midnight on Sunday. However, these estimates seem fanciful in light of the actual capacity of the venue in which the concerts took place:[improper synthesis?] the Fairground’s website states that "The larger arena comfortably seats 5,850." It was notable as hosting the first major American appearances by Jimi Hendrix and The Who, as well as the first major public performances of Janis Joplin. It was also the first major performance by Otis Redding in front of a predominantly white audience.The Monterey Pop Festival embodied the themes of California as a focal point for the counterculture and is generally regarded as one of the beginnings of the "Summer of Love" in 1967. It also became the template for future music festivals, notably the Woodstock Festival two years later.


The festival was planned in just seven weeks by promoter Lou Adler, John Phillips of The Mamas & the Papas, producer Alan Pariser, and publicist Derek Taylor. The festival board included members of The Beatles and The Beach Boys. The Monterey location had been known as the site for the long-running Monterey Jazz Festival and Monterey Folk Festival; the promoters saw the Monterey Pop festival as a way to validate rock music as an art form in the way jazz and folk were regarded.

The artists performed for free, with all revenue donated to charity, with the exception of Ravi Shankar, who was paid $3,000 for his afternoon-long performance on the sitar. Country Joe and the Fish were paid $5,000 not by the festival itself, but from revenue generated from the D.A. Pennebaker documentary.

The festival was later hailed as a triumph of organization and cooperation, setting a standard that few subsequent festivals have ever matched.

Summer of Love 1967 (Photo: Robert Altman)

  • Lou Adler later reflected:
    …the  idea for Monterey was to provide the best of everything — sound equipment, sleeping and eating accommodations, transportation — services that had never been provided for the artist before Monterey…
    We set up an on-site first aid clinic, because we knew there would be a need for medical supervision and that we would encounter drug-related problems. We didn’t want people who got themselves into trouble and needed medical attention to go untreated. Nor did we want their problems to ruin or in any way disturb other people or disrupt the music…
    Our security worked with the Monterey police. The local law enforcement authorities never expected to like the people they came in contact with as much as they did. They never expected the spirit of ‘Music, Love and Flowers’ to take over to the point where they’d allow themselves to be festooned with flowers.

Almost every aspect of The Monterey International Pop Festival was a first: although the audience was predominantly white, Monterey’s bill was truly multi-cultural and crossed all musical boundaries, mixing folk, blues, jazz, soul, R&B, rock, psychedelia, pop and classical genres, boasting a line-up that put established stars like The Mamas and the Papas, Simon & Garfunkel and The Byrds alongside groundbreaking new acts from the UK, the USA, South Africa and India.
Some of the artists and bands

01540_mpf_03Jefferson Airplane

With two huge singles behind them, the Airplane was one of the major attractions of the festival. They performed fairly early but made a lasting impression.

The Who
Although already a big act in the UK, and gaining some attention in the US, Monterey was the concert that propelled The Who into the American mainstream. The band’s famed performance was decided by a coin toss, since guitarists Pete Townshend and Jimi Hendrix each refused to go on after the other.


The Jimi Hendrix Experience
Hendrix ended his Monterey performance with an unpredictable version of "Wild Thing", which he capped by kneeling over his guitar, pouring lighter fluid over it, setting it aflame, and then smashing it. This produced unforeseen sounds and these actions contributed to his rising popularity in the USA.

Janis Joplin

Monterey Pop was also one of the earliest major public performances for Janis Joplin, who appeared as a member of Big Brother and The Holding Company. Joplin was seen swigging from a bottle of Southern Comfort as she gave a provocative rendition of the song "Ball ‘n’ Chain". Columbia Records signed Big Brother and The Holding Company on the basis of their performance at Monterey. "I became a supporter of feminism watching Janis Joplin at the Monterey Festival", says John McCleary, author of The Hippie Dictionary. "A lot of people had similar experiences watching female role models with that kind of power, unafraid to express themselves sexually while demanding their rights


Otis Redding
Monterey was the first time that soul star Otis Redding performed in front of a large and predominantly white audience in his home country. Redding, backed in his performance by Booker T. & The MG’s, was included on the bill through the efforts of promoter Jerry Wexler, who saw the festival as an opportunity to advance Redding’s career. " So this is the love crowd" was Redding’s famous quote to the audience. Redding’s show included his single "Respect" (which had become an even bigger hit for Aretha Franklin just weeks earlier). Although the festival finally gave Redding mainstream attention, it would be one of his last major performances. He died 6 months later in a plane crash at the age of 26.

Ravi Shankar
Ravi Shankar was another artist who was introduced to America at the Monterey festival. Eighteen minutes of Dhun (Dadra and Fast Teental) an excerpt from Shankar’s four-hour performance at the 1967 Monterey Pop Festival, concluded the Monterey Pop film, introducing the artist to a new generation of music fans.

The Mamas & the Papas
The Mamas & the Papas performed the closing act of the festival as member John Phillips helped organize the festival. They also introduced several of the acts including Scott McKenzie. They played some of their biggest hits including Monday, Monday and California Dreamin’.

Link to 80 minutes of video from the festival


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