Photo Credit: Fred Arellano

The day was June 17, 1967 when thousands of music lovers and free spirits congregated at the Monterey County Fairgrounds for the Monterey International Pop Music Festival.

Of those festivalgoers was Chris Tescher, who at the time was a recent University of San Francisco graduate (currently he is a Carmel local and owner of Carmel Country Inn).

Chris reminisces on how he and his buddy ended up in Monterey for the festival, “We had heard about the festival up in San Francisco but it wasn’t the main reason we came to town. Once we got down here though it just sort of happened because there was so much hype around it.”

Living in San Francisco, Tescher was a frequenter to concerts and performances, however he does deem the Monterey Pop Festival as the most organized and largest gathering of rock musicians he had ever seen. The Monterey Pop Festival was the first of its kind and is primarily remembered as the first major U.S. appearance by The Jimi Hendrix Experience, Ravi Shankar, The Who, and Janis Joplin.  

Being recent college graduates, which usually comes with a tight budget, Tescher and his buddy didn’t buy tickets to the festival. Instead, they gathered with thousands of others outside the gates of the Fairgrounds for what Tescher refers to as “Another kind of musical experience” and as he recalls, “it felt like there were more people outside the gates than buying tickets to go inside.”

Although they didn’t get to see the performers on stage, the experience of listening to some of the biggest names in rock n’ roll history was more than enough for the two music-loving college grads from the city.

“They had a great line-up and they all did an incredible job but Jimi Hendrix was the best guitarist I have ever heard.” Being on the other side of the fence Chris didn’t get to see Hendrix famously light his guitar on fire but he will never forget the sounds the guitar legend generated from that stage. “I had never heard him play before and he was incredible. I’ve never heard anyone play the guitar like that. Ever.”

This summer marks the 50th Anniversary Celebration and although Jimi Hendrix cannot be here to captivate the crowds, I know I am personally looking forward to this year’s line-up (which has yet to be announced).

As Tescher puts it, “You can never replicate the original…but I am interested to see how it is done today so I will probably go walk along the fence and listen to the music.” Just like he did 50 years ago.

Click here to learn more about the 50th Anniversary Celebration set to take place at the Monterey County Fair & Events Center, June 16-18, 2017