Monterey International Pop Festival Celebrates 50 Years – Be Sure to Wear Flowers in Your Hair |

Monterey International Pop Festival Celebrates 50 Years – Be Sure to Wear Flowers in Your Hair

June 13, 2017

by Linda Tulett



50 Years Ago… On the central coast of California, sits Monterey Bay. A place of natural wonder and beauty, thanks to Mother Nature, as well as a place of musical history, thanks to jazz, blues, bluegrass, and a little festival known as, The Monterey International Pop Festival. The central coast and Monterey Bay Area had been associated with both the Monterey International Jazz Festival and the Blues Festival, and what used to be the Big Sur Folk Festival. But, what really put the area on the musical map was the 1967 Monterey International Pop Festival. Acts like Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Canned Heat and Steve Miller debuted there and used this festival to seriously launch their careers. Heck, its even said that the song, “San Francisco (Be Sure to Wear Flowers in Your Hair)” was written by John Phillips to promote the Festival. And, speaking of, he was a part of the idea for the festival. Why not? The Jazz and Folk Festivals were doing good, rock and roll deserved a festival; and, one that would span the nation of musical genres – from folk to jam to rock to soul.

The impetus behind the staging of the Monterey International Pop Festival evolved one night in 1967, at Mama Cass Elliot’s house. Paul McCartney, John and Michelle Phillips, Cass and Lou Adler were discussing, along with other highly inspired issues, the general perception of Rock ‘n’ Roll…and that although jazz was considered an art form … Rock ‘n’ Roll on the other hand…was continually viewed as a fad, a trend … both were American born musical genres. The actual idea to stage a festival in Monterey initially came from Alan Pariser, who had attended the 1966 Monterey Jazz Festival. John Phillips and Lou Adler were approached by Alan Pariser and his partner, Ben Shapiro who wanted to hire the Mamas and The Papas to headline a blues and rock concert at the Monterey Fairgrounds…and as the story goes … later that night actually three o’clock in the morning John and Lou had decided, influenced by some heavy California Dreamin’ that it should be a charitable event…and with six weeks to go the Monterey International Pop Festival; a three-day non-profit event was about to become a reality.” []

It is thought that the Monterey International Pop Festival was a way to validate rock music in the same way that folk and jazz had been – as an art. It seems as though they succeeded. It is also said that the festival embodied the idea that California was the place to be; it was the focal point for everything counterculture; it was the one of the major happenings that created the “Summer of Love.” Some argue that the Monterey International Pop Festival was overshadowed in history by other festivals, such as Woodstock, and it’s importance may have been downplayed. If you think about it, look back at it, this festival included acts that would have a hand in shaping rock and roll at that time, and also have a major impact on the music culture into the future. I mean, even if we weren’t there, we all know about Jimi Hendrix burning his guitar during “Wild Thing,” smashing it on stage and tossing pieces of it into the stunned crowd, or Janis Joplin blowing away the crowd with a jaw-dropping performance of, “Ball and Chain,” [So, D.A. Pennebaker’s crew didn’t film their Saturday afternoon set, but Janis made such a huge impression that the organizers moved quickly to schedule a two-song set for Sunday so they could get them into the movie.], and Otis Redding’s astonishing versions of, “I’ve Been Loving You Too Long” and “Try a Little Tenderness.”[For many years, Redding’s legacy consisted of the footage from the film. By the time the documentary was released, Redding had been killed in a plane crash.] The festival scheduled well-known artists such as, The Mama’s and the Papa’s, Country Joe and the Fish, Simon & Garfunkel, Jefferson Airplane, and The Byrds alongside acts teetering on the edge of new musical ground, such as The Who, Eric Burdon and the Animals, Jimi Hendrix, Big Brother and the Holding Company, Canned Heat, Otis Redding, and the Grateful Dead.

As an idea from the inception, all artists would perform for free with revenue from the festival being donated to charity; all, except for Ravi Shankar, who was paid $3,000 for his afternoon-long performance. 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 artists did however have their flights and accommodation played for, and all artists received equal treatment no matter their current level of popularity or longevity. Apart from Shankar who performed for just under an hour, each act was given up to 40 minutes for their performance. Several opted to end their sets earlier, including The Who, who played for only 25 minutes.

What this Festival also included was one incredible and innovative sound system of that time. This system was designed and built by an audio engineer named Abe Jacob, who started his career in the San Francisco music scene doing sound for local bands. It is said that this sound system was a key factor in the festival’s success and was also the originator, the basis, for the design of all the large PA systems that followed it. The sound was captured by a guy named, Wally Heider, who’s mobile studio was a new (at that time) eight-channel recorder, with one track used to synchronize it with the film cameras being operated by documentary filmmaker D.A. Pennebaker who was using some recently-developed portable 16mm motion picture cameras. For those film-buffs, Eastman Kodak had just released “high speed” 16mm Ektachrome 100 ASA color reversal motion picture movie stock and, without it, the nighttime sets would have been basically impossible to record in color. [And, for those of us who still like film over digital, Hollywood directors have been lobbying studio heads to strike a deal with Eastman Kodak to buy certain quantities of film stock every year for the next several years. Eastman Kodak has been struggling with the change to digital video and film, so this is very interesting and good news.] Pennebaker’s documentary movie, Monterey Pop, was screened nationwide and energized the festival-goers who were looking for the next festival to attend, and also inspired entrepreneurs to put on more festivals. The audio recordings would become the basis for many live album releases, including Historic Performances Recorded at the Monterey International Pop Festival (1970); Live at Monterey Pop Festival 1967, featuring Janis Joplin, the Grateful Dead, the Steve Miller Blues Band and Canned Heat (1989); dedicated live albums from the Jefferson Airplane, Jimi Hendrix, Otis Redding, The Grateful Dead and Ravi Shankar; and a four CD box set titled, Monterey International Pop Festival, fearing performances by many of the artists (1992).

Cancellations and No-Shows
The Festival also had some notable cancellations and unfortunate no-shows, which had things been different….. well, certainly the Festival would have been, but maybe some of the other up-and-coming acts would not have been invited or impact not as great? The Beach Boys, who were involved with the event since it’s inception, failed to perform (due to a myriad of circumstances and issues) even though they were at one point scheduled to headline and close the Festival. The Beatles were rumored to appear but declined to do so, with speculation that their music had become too complicated to try to pull off live at a big festival. [During the Grateful Dead’s set, Peter Tork walked to the mic to settle the crowd and dispel the rumors, telling them, “The Beatles aren’t here,” with the Dead’s bassist Phil Lesh commenting, “The Beatles aren’t here but come on in anyway. If The Beatles were here, they’d probably want you to come in.”] The Kinks and Donovan both could not get work visas to be able to perform in the U.S.; Bob Dylan was invited but declined due to his recent motorcycle accident; The Mothers of Invention were invited but, Zappa declined because (apparently… so it’s said…) he would not consider sharing a stage with any of the San Francisco bands he felt inferior (hum, we wonder who?). The Doors were actually not invited, and keyboardist Ray Manzarek was quoted as saying, “We were quite angry wondering why The Association was at the Monterey Pop Festival, and The Doors were not.” [Monterey County NOW]

June 1967, Monterey, California, USA — Janis Joplin with the guitarists of Big Brother and the Holding Company, on stage at the Monterey Pop Festival. The fame garnered from this performance caused Joplin to leave the band about a year later. — Image by © Ted Streshinsky/CORBIS

The Monterey International Pop Foundation (MIPFF) is a non-profit charitable and educational foundation focussed on music-related development, creativity, and mental and physical health. The Foundation was borne of the spirit and intent created on that June weekend in 1967, and many artists who performed at the original Festival continue to sustain the Foundation’s aims and ideals through their music and other efforts. The Foundation’s mandate was established in 1967, when John Phillips, who co-produced the festival suggested, “Let’s give something back.”


Over the past five decades, The Foundation has successfully generated funds and has made donations in the names of artists who performed at the 1967 Monterey International Pop Festival to recipients such as: a music instruction program in Harlem (Paul Simon); Blue Monday Foundation – Marin County (initial contact Mark Naftalin); Chicago’s Providence St. Mel Music Program (Otis Redding); UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital – Music Therapy (initial contact Gregg Perloff); Another Planet Entertainment; Clive Davis School of Recorded Music at New York University; San Francisco Earthquake Fund (Bill Graham); Texas Habitat for Humanity (Janis Joplin); H.E.A.R. – Hearing Education and Awareness for Rockers (Pete Townsend); New York’s Children’s Health Fund – Mobile pediatric clinics, providing care to homeless shelters, housing projects and schools (Paul Simon); Romanian Angels (initial contact Olivia Harrison);and, the Berklee School of Music – Five week program Scholarship. For five decades, everything relating to the Monterey International Pop Festival Foundation’s efforts includes: ‘On behalf of the ARTISTS WHO APPEARED THERE June 16, 17 and 18, 1967.’

50 Years Later…

Now, 50 years later, on the exact same dates, the music returns to where the spirit has remained for five decades. The Fairgrounds has been aging gracefully; the stage still stands in it’s same spot, with the same pointed arches over the grandstands that appeared in so many of those famous images that made the Monterey International Pop Festival an important part of musical history and placing Monterey on the musical map. The 50 year celebration is being produced by Another Planet Entertainment and Goldenvoice, in association with the Monterey International Pop Festival Foundation. See below for daily schedule/line-up. Lou Adler, one of the original Monterey International Pop founders who co-produced the 1967 festival, is involved once again. Lou said, “The Monterey International Pop Festival cannot be duplicated but can be celebrated and will be, by the performers and the attendees at the 50th Anniversary festival.

Along with a full music schedule, the Festival grounds will host a few attractions for festival goers to enjoy, immerse in, travel back in time if you will. The official gallery for the anniversary is, Morrison Hotel Gallery, the international leader in fine art music photography. They will have a pop-up gallery with over 50 photographic prints of the artist that performed at the original festival for sale. Photographer Henry Diltz, co-owner and founder of the Morrison Hotel Gallery, will be on-site to mingle and greet fans and sign autographs, along with D.A. Pennebaker, documentary filmmaker behind Monterey Pop to chat with fans and sign a limited edition run of the original movie poster.

It Happened in Monterey… Music, Love and Flowers,” will be an on-site museum that explores the idea of the original festival and tells the story of how Monterey International Pop came together in 1967. There will be five sections to this exhibit: Plan, Festival, Film, Charity and Impact, all tracing the history of the festival, from the inception 50 years ago to the impact it still holds today. Visitors will gaze at rare documents and photographs that tell the story of the planning of the festival, as well as get to view highlights from the documentary film in a “drop-in” theater environment.

You can also swing by Levi’s Outpost at Monterey and see exclusive product collaborations, artist-led workshops and original and rare apparel customizations. The Outpost will be open daily from 11am – 7pm.

Tickets are still available for the Monterey International Pop Festival 50th Anniversary Festival taking place from June 16-18, 2017 any the Monterey Fairgrounds in Monterey, CA. For more information or to purchase tickets, please visit


Daily Schedule:
Friday, June 16
Leon Bridges 9:40 – 10:55pm
Father John Misty 8:00 – 9:10pm
Regina Spektor 6:30 – 7:30pm
Eric Burdon & The Animals 5:10 – 6:00pm
Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats 3:50 – 4:40pm
Charles Bradley & His Extraordinaires 2:30 – 3:20pm
Langhorne Slim & The Law 1:15 – 2:00pm
Sara Watkins 12:00 – 12:45pm

Saturday, June 17
Jack Johnson 9:25 – 10:55pm
Norah Jones 7:45 – 8:55pm
Jim James 6:15 – 7:15pm
Dr. Dog 4:55 – 5:45pm
Jamtown feat. Cisco Adler, Donavon Frankenreiter And G. Love 3:40 – 4:25pm
Jackie Greene 2:25 – 3:10pm
North Mississippi Allstars 1:10 – 1:55pm
Jacob Banks 12:00 – 12:45pm

Sunday, June 18
Phil Lesh & The Terrapin Family Band 9:25 – 10:55pm
The Head and the Heart 7:50 – 8:55pm
Gary Clark Jr. 6:20 – 7:20pm
Kurt Vile & The Violators 5:00 – 5:50pm
Booker T’s Stax Revue 3:40 – 4:30pm
Nicki Bluhm & The Dirty Dozen Brass Band 2:25 – 3:10pm
Hiss Golden Messenger 1:10 – 1:55pm
ALO 12:00 – 12:45pm

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