The First Monterey International Pop Festival

Thirty-Seven years ago today on June 16 1967 the Monterey International Pop Festival or “Monterey Pop” began. Considered to be the first rock festival, Monterey Pop brought together (eventually) the psychedelic sounds of the San Francisco “Scene” with what many considered the more “commercial” Los Angeles scene. Organized by Lou Adler and John Philips with able assistance by Derek Taylor, Monterey Pop was a triumph artistically, esthetically and financially. The charitable foundation started in its’ name still distributes funds to worthy causes such as the Haight-Asbury and LA Free Clinics. The festival line-up was as follows:

Friday Evening, June 16

· The Association
· The Paupers (from Canada. The Paupers were being hailed as the next Beatles after some fantastic shows in New York and LA and the expectations were high for their Monterey performance. Unfortunately, too much acid, equipment gremlins and a generally sloppy performance marred what should have been a triumph. A great band that couldn’t prove it when it counted most.)
· Lou Rawls
· Beverly
· Johnny Rivers
· Eric Burdon & The Animals

Saturday Afternoon, June 17

· Canned Heat
· Big Brother & The Holding Company
· Country Joe & The Fish
· Al Kooper
· The Butterfield Blues Band
· Quicksilver Messenger Service
· The Steve Miller Band
· The Electric Flag

Saturday Evening, June 17

· Moby Grape
· Hugh Masekela & Big Black (Who played with The Byrds after on “So You Want to be a Rock and Roll Star?”)
· The Byrds
· The Butterfield Blues Band
· Laura Nyro
· Jefferson Airplane
· Booker T & The MGs with The Mar-Keys (Amazing)
· Otis Redding (arguably Redding’s introduction to a primarily white audience, he wowed the crowd only to die six months later in a plane crash.)
Sunday Afternoon, June 18

· Ravi Shankar

Sunday Evening, June 18

· The Blues Project
· Big Brother & The Holding Company with Janis Joplin
· The Group With No Name
· Buffalo Springfield
· The Who
· The Grateful Dead (who up until the last minute were planning an alternative festival as a protest against the LA based organizers)
· The Jimi Hendrix Experience (their American debut and introduced by Brian Jones)
· Scott McKenzie
· The Mamas & The Papas

· Simon and Garfunkel also performed but I am not exactly sure when.


A great article as to why it was considered the greatest rock festival can be found at Pop Perfect. For a very cool overview of the festival and some interesting links check out The Monterey International Pop Music Festival. If you want to re-live the excitement at home you are going to want to pick up the DVD set The Complete Monterey Pop Festival – Criterion Collection and the CD box set Monterey International Pop Festival [30th Anniversary Box Set].
Sometimes Woodstock seems to get all the attention but Monterey Pop was definitely the first and some would argue the best rock festival ever held. Kind of hard to argue against that.