In June of 1967 thousands flocked to the Monterey County Fairgrounds for the Monterey International Pop Festival. Little did the event organizers know, the performances at this legendary rock festival would go down in music history. The success of Monterey Pop served as a blueprint for future rock n’ roll festivals including the iconic Woodstock Music & Art Fair just a few short years later.
Here are five historic Monterey International Pop Festival moments that led to the festival’s fame.
5. Ravi Shankar
Ravi Shankar is an award winning Indian musical artist and composer who is best known for his skill on the sitar instrument. His music influenced many bands of the 60’s and 70’s including George Harrison of The Beatles. Shankar’s four-hour long set at Monterey International Pop Festival was a huge success and helped solidify his growing popularity in the international music scene.
4. Janis Joplin
It was the singer Janis Joplin’s performance at Monterey Pop, as part of the psych rock band Big Brother and the Holding Company that catapulted her into fame. The outstanding performance led the group to be signed by Columbia Records which laid the foundation for Joplin’s continued success as a solo artist and a booked musical guest at Woodstock Festival.
3. Otis Redding
Otis Redding was a talented soul and blues artist who is widely considered as one of the greatest singers in American music history. Redding was a celebrated artist within the Black American community but his incredible performance at Monterey Pop exposed him to a predominantly white crowd which helped widen his audience and build on his already growing popularity. Unfortunately, just six months after his insanely popular appearance in Monterey, Redding tragically died in a plane crash making his performance even more memorable for those who were in attendance.
2. The Who
Already a huge hit in the UK, The Who skyrocketed into United States success after a jaw dropping performance that left festival goers and fellow musicians stunned. After concluding their set, The Who set off smoke bombs behind their amps, smashed their guitar, and kicked over the drum stand before exiting the stage.
1. The Jimi Hendrix Experience
Jimi Hendrix had once served in the military and spent time at Fort Ord in Marina but his return to Monterey County was under very different circumstances. Like The Who, Hendrix had found success in the UK but was fairly unknown in the United States until he was booked as an act at Monterey International Pop Festival. His wild performance helped solidify him as a guitar legend and recognized as an international star. Using not just his hands but his teeth and tongue, Hendrix ended the performance in a fiery finale that included lighting his guitar on fire, smashing it into pieces, and throwing the leftovers into the crowd. Now that is sure to leave a lasting impression!