Illustrating the blueprint for Woodstock, constructing the launch pad for several iconic Rock N’ Rollers, and furnishing the birthplace of the Summer of Love; the Monterey International Pop Festival transitioned from a music festival into an contagious movement. Having been the brain child of Low Alder (LA record producer), Paul McCartney, and the Mamas and Papas; the Monterey International Pop Festival was conceived out of the mutual ambition to award Rock N’ Roll with artistic credibility.
Hoping to follow in the steps of jazz music and the way it was perceived, the Monterey International Pop Festival took place in the same location as Jazz fest; at the Monterey fair grounds just down the coast from San Francisco, California. Adorned with the slogan, “Music, Love, and Flowers” the Monterey International Pop Festival defined the look and sound for The Summer of Love (a social phenomenon which occurred in the summer 1967 where over 100,000 people sported hippie fashion and behavior).
The Monterey International Pop Festival became an important place for new and upcoming acts to make a splash onto the Rock N’ Roll scene. New comer Janis Joplin was front woman for the band Big Brother and the Holding Company, which after their outstanding performance, led the band to be signed by Columbia Records and laid the foundation for Joplin’s successful solo career.
Finding success in the UK but having achieved little fame in the US, the Monterey International Pop Festival changed Jimi Hendrix career for the remainder of his life. Using not just his hands, but his teeth and tongue in his performance, Jimi wowed the audience with his innovative and groundbreaking guitar skills. Ending his performance by lighting his guitar on fire, smashing it to bits, and throwing what remained onto the crowd, Hendrix undoubtedly made a lasting impression and secured his status as rock god.
As if this wasn’t enough to make the Monterey International Pop Festival a success and solidifying itself as a Rock N’ Roll game changer, the unbelievable performances continued. Ravi Shankar, Indian sitar player and composer, played a four hour long set that aided in his growth and popularity on an international scale. Otis Redding, already a celebrated vocalist in the African American community, widened his audience to include white Americans which continued his growth and catapulted his fame. Similar to Hendrix, The Who had achieved fame in the UK but prior to the festival had very little notoriety in the US. After their earthshattering performance which included hit songs, smoke bombs, guitar smashes, and destruction of the drum case, The Who too became a household name in the United States.
Whether it was magic, timing, or a bit of both, the Monterey International Pop Festival awarded the world with genre altering acts that refused to leave that stage unheard. The Monterey International Pop Festival will go down as one of the most successful festivals in music history and will be remembered as a weekend that impacted Rock N’ Roll forever.