Monterey at 50: When rock festivals were born

Simon and Garfunkel helped launch the SUMMER OF LOVE at the Monterey International Pop Festival back in 1967. Its vibe is still being felt half a century later. Anthony Mason takes us to Monterey, then and now: 

At the fairgrounds in Monterey, California this weekend, just down the coast from San Francisco, the Monterey International Pop Festival is celebrating its rock ancestor — the festival that gave birth to rock festivals.

Fifty years ago this weekend, the first Monterey Pop, with its slogan of “Music, Love and Flowers,” rang the opening bell for the “Summer of Love.”

Monterey would be the breakout moment for Jimi Hendrix, playing his first American show with the Experience; for Janis Joplin, then almost unknown outside San Francisco; and for Otis Redding, who’d never played for a white audience.

Otis Redding, appearing with Booker T. and the MG’s and the Mar-Keys, performed “Shake” and “I’ve Been Loving You Too Long” at the 1967 festival. (From the documentary “Monterey Pop.”)

Janus Films

The festival was organized by John Phillips, leader of The Mamas and The Papas, and his manager and producer, Lou Adler. The shows sold out every day. “Everything was full; there were people standing along the fences,” said Adler.

The top ticket was $6.50. Almost all the acts played for charity. And the entire festival was put together in just six-and-a-half weeks — no rules, no regulations.

The Mamas and The Papas. 

Janus Films

“It was a madhouse at the Monterey Pop Festival offices, total madhouse,” said Michelle Phillips, John’s wife, and last surviving member of The Mamas and The Papas.

The group headlined a lineup of more than 30 artists, from the sweet folk-rock Simon & Garfunkel to the classical sitar music of Ravi Shankar.

Mason asked, “Why do you think everybody wanted to come?”

“Well, John and Lou…

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