The Monterey International Pop Music Festival is making a comeback for their 50th year anniversary. The festival will be held on June 16 through June 18, which are the exact same three days on which it was held back in 1967.
50 years ago, a massive gathering crowded the festival, numbers ranging from 25,000 to 90,000. People jammed themselves into over-capacitated venues, all to see a glimpse of rock n’ roll history. Not only was this one of the first rock n’ roll festivals ever, but it was the first major American appearances of many iconic artists like The Jimi Hendrix Experience, The Who, Grateful Dead and Ravi Shankar. The festival launched many careers, including some artists turning into stars overnight, like Janis Joplin, Steve Miller and Otis Redding. It was the first high profile event that mixed acts from different major musical centers, like San Francisco, Los Angeles, New York, Memphis and Chicago. It was the first time many of the bands were meeting each other and watching each other perform. The festival was hugely important in breaking some of the mystique and suspicion of bands from different territories, bringing them together in a celebration of all rock n’ roll. The festival was a huge success and was regarded as an early beginning of “The Summer of Love”. It would inspire many of the biggest music festivals after it, including Woodstock just two years after and even many big music festivals today, like Coachella and Bonnaroo.
The goal of the rock festival fifty years ago was to gain the same respect and validation as jazz. Back then, rock n’ roll wasn’t considered as important of an art form as jazz was. A documentary of the festival, by documentary filmmaker P.A Pennebaker, was released in theaters and helped gain widespread acceptance, pushing the festival to mythic status.
The anniversary festival that has just been announced is set to take place on the exact same fairgrounds it was on in 1967. They are ready to celebrate the success of the original festival, remembering what it did for the genre of rock n’ roll. Some of the artists already announced to perform are Norah Jones, Jack Johnson, Gary Clark Jr., Jim James, Kurt Vile, the Head the Heart and Father John Misty. Phil Lesh, the Grateful Dead alumni who was at the original festival 50 years ago, is also ready to perform with his Terrapin Family Band. The full lineup is set to be released on April 18th.
Photo Credits: Owen Ela