Revisit: Monterey International Pop Festival: Music, Love, and Flowers, 1967
ABOUT THE EXHIBIT
In May 2017, the GRAMMY Museum, in collaboration with Lou Adler, GRAMMY®-winning producer and co-founder of the Monterey International Pop Festival, presented Monterey International Pop Festival: Music, Love, and Flowers, 1967. Fifty years after the legendary music festival, the exhibit explored how music became the counterculture’s most significant cultural expression in 1967, and the three days in mid-June when thousands of youth flocked to the Bay Area for the Monterey Pop Festival.
In 1967, the Summer of Love became the catchphrase for a cultural revolution in America. It began in San Francisco in the Haight-Ashbury section of the city. The youth-driven hippie counterculture that surfaced there challenged conventional mores and initiated an upheaval that dramatically altered America. Sexual liberation, widespread drug use, fascination with alternative forms of religion and politics, the creation of an alternative press, a new appreciation of nature and natural foods, communal living, and radical approaches to fashion, art, design, and film were all byproducts of this movement that are still with us today.
Musically, this revolution began in a small coastal town in northern California. The Monterey International Pop Festival brought together artists and bands previously unknown on the national stage and gave them a platform that transformed music and culture. Groups such as the Jefferson Airplane, the Grateful Dead, Big Brother and the Holding Company with Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix, and the Mamas and the Papas defined the new sound of this youth-driven culture. Music became the counterculture’s most significant cultural expression. The Summer of Love, embodied by the performances at Monterey Pop, elevated a new kind of rock, one that featured long, winding jams and soaring guitar solos as well as other innovative musical ideas, into the cultural conversation previously reserved for classical and jazz music.
Other bands including Quicksilver Messenger Service, Moby Grape, It’s a Beautiful Day, and many others helped to further define this new set of sounds. Venues like the Avalon Ballroom and the Fillmore Auditorium and concert promoters such as Chet Helms and Bill Graham regularly featured such bands. San Francisco and northern California became ground zero for this exciting new form of rock, and the summer of 1967 the time when the rest of the world was introduced to it.
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Over three days in mid-June 1967, psychedelic rock had its coming-out party. Set a week after the first rock festival, Fantasy Fair and Magic Mountain Music Festival, Monterey showed the world the newest horizons of rock and roll, as well as the arrival of its newest titan.
Monterey Pop is perhaps most well-known for the performance by the Jimi Hendrix Experience, the first American gig since forming in October 1966. Recommended for Monterey by Paul McCartney, Hendrix had spent late 1966 and early 1967 conquering the English rock scene, gaining legendary status among guitar players such as Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck, and Pete Townshend. Hendrix played and electric nine-song set, ranging from supercharged blues to a slow, dramatic reading of Bob Dylan’s “Like A Rolling Stone” and a handful of originals that Hendrix tore through before smashing and then ritually sacrificing his paisley-printed Fender Stratocaster in a blaze of fire.
What is perhaps as notable as the lineup is the list of artists and bands unable to attend. The Beatles, the Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan, the Kinks, and the Beach Boys were all invited to play at Monterey, but either declined or were unavailable. In addition, Motown founder Berry Gordy barred any of his artists from performing at the festival. This group of artists had been the pop music elite of the ‘60s. While they would stay at the top for the rest of the decade, their absence from Monterey gave way to the next wave of rock and roll, the exponentially-growing seed of the Summer of Love counterculture.
With explosive sets by Hendrix, The Who, Otis Redding, Big Brother and the Holding Company, Jefferson Airplane, and the Grateful Dead, as well as new forays into uncharted territories by Ravi Shankar, the Quicksilver Messenger Service, and one of the first public demonstrations of the new Moog Modular Synthesizer, Monterey was the world’s first glimpse into the post-Sgt. Pepper landscape of rock music.
Fittingly, the festival closed with recent hit maker Scott McKenzie, accompanied by festival organizers the Mamas and the Papas, singing “San Francisco (Be Sure To Wear Flowers In Your Hair),” a call-to-arms to the beginning of the Summer of Love.
The Electric Flag
In 1967, guitarist Mike Bloomfield and vocalist Nick Gravenites left the Paul Butterfield Blues Band to form the Electric Flag. Combining blues, rock, soul, psychedelia, and jazz, the Electric Flag made their live debut at Monterey International Pop Festival. In the same year, they recorded the soundtrack for the film The Trip. The band had a short but successful lifespan, and released four studio albums before disbanding.
Drum Sticks, Buddy Miles, c.1970s
Drummer George “Buddy” Miles Jr. was a founding member of the Electric Flag. In addition to playing the drums, Miles took the lead on vocals for some of the band’s recordings. During his career, Miles also performed and recorded with Jimi Hendrix and Carlos Santana.
Courtesy of the Buddy Miles Literary Trust
Guitar, Michael Bloomfield 1959 Les Paul Standard, Gibson, 2009
Prior to moving to San Francisco and forming the Electric Flag in 1967, Michael “Mike” Bloomfield had already made a name for himself in Chicago’s South Side blues clubs. Bloomfield performed with blues giants like Howlin’ Wolf and Muddy Waters in the early 1960s and recorded on Bob Dylan’s Highway 61 Revisited album in 1965. In 2009, Gibson created a special reissue of Bloomfield’s Les Paul guitar. It is a replica of the guitar Bloomfield played at the Monterey International Pop Festival.
Courtesy of Randy Bloomfield
The Association, which was comprised of five members from a short-lived band called The Men, and singer-songwriter Terry Kirkman, opened the Monterey Pop Festival. Showcasing their tight-knit pop harmony sound, the band created songs that topped charts, won a Golden Globe, and earned seven GRAMMY nominations. “Along Comes Mary,” “Cherish,” and “Windy” are their most well-known hits. The remaining members are still touring today.
Jacket, Terry Kirkman, c.1960s
Singer-songwriter Terry Kirkman is one of the founding members of The Association. The band made history by being the first to perform at the Monterey International Pop Music Festival on Friday, June 16, 1967. Kirkman wore this jacket onstage for the duration of the historic performance.
Courtesy of Terry Kirkman
Canned Heat, the electric blues band that brought us hits such as “On The Road Again,” “Let’s Work Together,” and “Going Up The Country,” released their debut album shortly after they played Monterey Pop. They went on to headline the Woodstock Festival in 1969, release 38 albums, collaborate with John Mayall, Little Richard, and John Lee Hooker, and helped bring blues musicians into the spotlight. The band’s members have changed throughout the years, but the band still lives on thanks to drummer/band leader Adolfo “Fito” de la Parra.
Bass Guitar, 1966 P-Bass Replica, Fender, c.2007
This custom Fender bass guitar is an exact replica of the bass played by Larry Taylor of Canned Heat at the Monterey International Pop Music Festival in 1967. The band’s appearance at Monterey Pop, as well as Woodstock in 1969, helped them to achieve worldwide recognition. Canned Heat is known for honoring and drawing inspiration from the blues while experimenting with psychedelic sounds.
Courtesy of Larry Taylor
Guitar, Jimi Hendrix Monterey Pop Stratocaster, Fender, 1997
Towards the end of Jimi Hendrix’s electrifying close to “Wild Thing” on June 18, 1967, he “sacrificed” what used to be a Fiesta Red 1965 Fender Stratocaster with hand-painted vines, roses, and hearts. Parts of the guitar were thrown into the crowd. It was the first time that an American audience had seen such destruction of an instrument on stage. This guitar is a commemorative reissue from Fender, celebrating the iconic performance from that night.
D.A. Pennebaker’s Camera
Camera, D.A. Pennebaker, 1967
D.A. Pennebaker had produced 12 films prior to Monterey Pop in 1968. This is a model of the camera that Pennebaker used to film the concert on 16mm film. D.A. Pennebaker is celebrated for capturing the positive energy of the event and is believed to have been a key figure in raising awareness about festivals. This inspired a new wave of entrepreneurs who would go on to host more festivals around the world.
Courtesy of the Monterey Pop International Festival Foundation