Woodstock Festival has made history as the most iconic festivals ever. The truth is that it attracted more than half a million people to Bethel Woods, NY. Some artists who played at the event, such as Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Grateful Dead, Joan Baez, The Who or Jefferson Airplane, were then established as stars. But it was 2 years earlier at the Monterey Pop Festival that some gave the shows that catapulted them to fame.
The festival was organized by John Phillips from The Mamas & The Papas, record producer Lou Adler, Alan Pariser and Derek Taylor, a publicist. It became for many people as the beginnings of the “Summer Of Love” alongside another festival held a week earlier, called Fantasy Fair and Magic Mountain Music Festival. The Monterey Pop Festival attracted over 200,000 spectators.
The idea of the organizers was to give Rock the same treatment that the city of Monterey gave to Jazz and Folk. The Monterey Jazz Festival and Big Sur Folk Festival had been organized for a long time, and it was time for Rock to be included in an acceptable art form as well. So organizers wanted to provide artists the best sound equipement as well as transportation, sleeping and eating accomodations. An on-site medical clinic was also set up to help those in need of medical support, not only to provide any medical aid needed, but also not to disturb the spirit of peace and love that they wanted to see spread. Local authorities were concerned about the audience that would be attending the festival but were eventually surprised by the spirit of “Music, Love and Flowers” that reigned over the weekend. Many of them embraced the concept by placing flowers in their uniforms.
In fact, Monterey Pop Festival has brought together various music styles on multiple stages, thus becoming the first template for future music festivals, including Woodstock.
The festival was also remembered as Jimi Hendrix's first major performance in the U.S. The guitarrist, which at the time was already a star in the UK was not recognized yet in his native country. It was also here that The Who and Janis Joplin gave their first big show in front of a great audience (as the lead singer of Big Brother And The Holding Company). For Otis Reading, the festival has also become a milestone as it was the first time the musician played for a mostly white audience.
Other acts that played at the festival include Simon & Garfunkel, The Mamas & The Papas, Canned Heat, Hugh Masekela, Buffalo Springfield, Eric Burdon & The Animals, The Byrds, Jefferson Airplane, Moby Grape and more.
- All artists played for free except Ravi Shankar who received $3,000.
- Every performing acts were given 40 minutes to play, apart from Ravi Shankar. However some ended their set earlier, like The Who, who only played for 25 minutes.
- The song “San Francisco (Be Sure To Wear Flowers In Your Head)” was written by Phillips to promote the event, later becoming a huge success for Scott McKenzie.
- The Who's Pete Townsend destroyed his guitar after playing the song “My Generation” which led to several frightened roadies rushing to save expensive microphones.
- Jimi Hendrix was introduced on stage by his friend Brian Jones from The Rolling Stones, who attended the festival with his girlfriend Nico.
- 24 hours after the festival ended, the mayor of San Francisco passed a resolution banning gatherings of more than 2,000 people at the festival site.