Rhino Historic Tours: Monterey Pop

Thursday, June 16, 2016
Rhino Historic Tours: Monterey Pop

49 years ago today, the Monterey International Pop Festival kicked off in California, providing anywhere from 25,000 to 90,000 people with one of the greatest music festival lineups this side of Live Aid.

Yes, that previous sentence does seem to imply that Monterey had a better bill that Woodstock, and while your personal mileage may vary, we present for your approval the list of names who played the International Pop Festival on June 16, 17, and 18, 1967:

Jefferson Airplane The Who The Grateful Dead The Jimi Hendrix Experience Janis Joplin Eric Burdon and the Animals Otis Redding Ravi Shankar The Mamas and the Papas

Look, say what you will about Woodstock, but one thing that you can’t say is that every single act on the bill qualifies as a bona fide music legend. With Monterey, that description isn’t in question for anyone listed above. Case closed.

Jefferson Airplane was already a big deal in the Bay Area, of course, and the same goes for The Grateful Dead and The Mamas and the Papas, but The Who were only just starting to get a Stateside buzz, so Monterey was a pretty big deal for them. Both Janis Joplin and Jimi Hendrix more or less had their careers made with Monterey, Eric Burdon was able to show off his new sound, and for Otis Redding, the show was his big chance to play his awesome R&B tunes in front of a huge predominantly-white crowd.

And what of Ravi Shankar? Well, funny you should ask, because it’s his performance that we’re shining a spotlight on. When he hit Monterey for the festival, it wasn’t so terribly long after he’d met George Harrison in London and begun to forge a friendship with the Beatle, which led to a significant rise in his profile. After performing at Monterey, that profile only grew, and the fact that he also played Woodstock kind of sums up why he was as familiar a name in the ‘60s as…well, maybe not the Beatles, but even so, he was probably the best known sitar player this side of Harrison!

You can give his Monterey performance a spin below and hear what the folks at the Monterey County Fairgrounds were hearing back in 1967. It’s pretty groovy, man.