This weekend marks the 50th Anniversary of the seminal event, the Monterey Pop Festival in 1967 in Monterey, California.
Monterey Pop is considered by many music historians to be the first modern rock festival. It was the first time pop music (what we would come to call rock by the 1980s) was so big it received its own dedicated venue for a weekend.
The fairgrounds alone held up to 9,000 audience members – something only eclipsed by The Beatles and Elvis in arenas at that point.
Estimates range from a minimum of 25,000 to over 90,000 people were in the park itself for the duration of the weekend.
Janis Joplin became a household name because of the festival and the subsequent ground-breaking concert movie, the first of its kind and the model for all concert movies and even MTV after.
Performers included Jefferson Airplane, Jimi Hendrix, Big Brother and the Holding Company, The Grateful Dead, The Who, The Mamas and the Papas, and the artist that really shocked the “squares” that he would be there: Otis Redding.
Not only was 26 year-old Otis there representing the “Old Guard”, but he was a primary influence for most of the bands and received almost as royalty. It marked a resurgence in his career and his performance became the focal point in which historians would use to mark the blending of folk, rock, and soul into the new music that was coming out of San Francisco. Sadly, Redding would die just six months later at the height of his popularity.
If you have access to it, I highly recommend watching the full movie. Sadly, it is not available through any legal streaming means.