Saturday, June 17, 2017

This Ain't the Summer of Love (part 2): The Monterey Pop Festival - 50 Years On

An original advertising poster
Friday June 16 through Sunday June 18: the days and dates between 1967 and 2017 match up perfectly.
And why wouldn't they? 1967 was a magical musical year, full of awakenings not seen since...well...maybe the Renaissance.
Okay, maybe I shouldn't go that far, but it truly was a remarkable year in the pop music world. I mean, it was only two weeks earlier that The Beatles released the album of the century, "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band," and releases by the Doors, Jefferson Airplane, and the Jimi Hendrix Experience were also at hand.
Coming up on the horizon?
Debut albums by Janis Joplin (with Big Brother and the Holding Company), Pink Floyd, and Traffic.
Then there was the Monterrey Pop Festival, which took place on the dates mentioned - Friday June 16 through Sunday June 18.
This one three-day event would literally change the future of rock and roll music, for it introduced to major record company label executives a new world of electric music for the mind and body...
If, through some miracle, I was given a choice of being transported through time to attend either Monterey or Woodstock, which took place two years later in August of 1969, Monterey would win hands down. In my opinion, Monterey had so much more musical variety to offer than they had at Woodstock. Where Woodstock musically purposely pushed the counter-culture, Monterey just "let it all hang out" as pop artists freely and without care mingled with the new underground. Where else could you find Peter Tork of the Monkees introduce the Buffalo Springfield? Monterey had an innocence - the musicians, the announcers, and the patrons - for a festival this size and nature was something new...never tried before. 
If you're going to San Francisco
be sure to wear some flowers in your hair...
Upwards of 100,000 people attended – some say it was closer to 200,000 - over its three-day schedule, many of whom had descended upon the west coast inspired by the same spirit expressed in the Scott McKenzie song “San Francisco (Be Sure To Wear Flowers In Your Hair),” written by festival organizer John Phillips of the Mamas and the Papas expressly as a promotional tune for the festival. And I love this portion of the film of "60s awe as a blonde fan waits for the music festival to begin. She's breathless and, years later, seems endearingly optimistic: "Haven't you ever been to a love in? Gawd! I think it's gonna be like Easter and Christmas and New year's and your birthday all together, you know? The vibrations are just gonna be floating everywhere!"
It was a true embodiment of the fabled "Summer of Love."

And plenty of fresh new music abounded for an audience that responded with child-like glee and wonder.
Simon and Garfunkel at Monterey
Slow down, you move too fast...

Friday, June 16, saw
The Association
Lou Rawls
Johnny Rivers
Eric Burdon and the Animals
Simon and Garfunkel


Saturday, June 17, was the BIG day:
Our love is like a ball and chain...
Canned Heat
Big Brother and the Holding Company with Janis Joplin
Country Joe and the Fish
Al Kooper
Butterfield Blues Band
Electric Flag
Quicksilver Messenger Service
Steve Miller Band
Moby Grape
Hugh Masekela
The Byrds
Laura Nyro
Jefferson Airplane
Booker T and the MGs
The Mar-keys
Otis Redding

The Who exploded into fire and light
for their generation
And then Sunday, June 18, had
Ravi Shankar
Blues Project
Big Brother with Janis Joplin (for a second time)
Buffalo Springfield (with guest David Crosby)
The Who
The Grateful Dead
Jimi Hendix Experience
Scott McKenzie
Mamas and Papas

The thing to remember is that many of the artists who performed here, such as Hendrix, Joplin, Steve Miller, the Grateful Dead, were at the very beginning of their national and international popularity. No one had any idea they would become the legendary figures that they have.
“One of the most iconic rock 'n' roll moments in musical history was when Jimi Hendrix threw his guitar down onstage and doused it with Ronson lighter fluid, lights it, and then leans back in this sacrificial rite of giving his guitar to the gods," photographer Tom Gundelfinger O'Neal remembered.

The Summer of Love that followed Monterey may have failed to usher in a lasting era of peace and love, but the festival introduced much of the music that has come to define that particular place and time.

Musically, you can relive (or visit for the first time) some of the great sounds that came from that stage: click HERE for a CD box set
Visually, you can also visit via a beautifully restored video by clicking HERE 
The magnificent CD and DVD box sets available have more social history of the times than any musical documentary I have seen; your senses will be immersed like little else can do. Do you want to know the way it really was in the Summer of Love? Listen and watch the Monterey Pop Festival box sets.
They truly are a time capsule of 1967, because, that IS the way it really was.

Until next time, see you in time.

By the way, want to read a bit about the 50th anniversary of The Beatles Sgt. Pepper album?
Click HERE


No comments: