While researching The Byrds circa 1967, I was surprised to find out that they played at Monterey Pop — or as its known officially, The Monterey International Pop Music Festival. The reason I didn’t know about The Byrds’ performance is because they were excluded from D.A. Pennebaker‘s concert film, no doubt due to David Crosby’s tiresome, cocaine-fueled jackassery, which ruined what might have been a decent set. I’ll have more about Crosby’s me-first antics in the next installment of the Clarence White Chronicles — coming soon, by the way — but viewing Monterey Pop footage got me all fired up.
Today’s submissions are (or should be) very well-known, but they makeup for their ubiquity with transcendent musical impact. I’d say that’s a fair trade-off. Both come from Monterey Pop, the June ’67 music fest that came to symbolize the “Summer of Love” as much as Sgt. Pepper’s, released a few weeks prior. While I may be a cynical, former punk rock hardliner who’s reached intellectual saturation regarding the mythology of the 1960s, even I have to concede that this was a cultural high point. Aside from several mind-blowing musical performances, the festival was an absolute triumph of organizational brilliance, with no deaths, no injuries, no ODs, no violence, and no arrests. I wouldn’t go to Woodstock unless you paid me in gold bullion, but Monterey Pop? No question.
It’s hard to believe that Jimi Hendrix and Otis Redding weren’t household names going into Monterey, but that is indeed the case. Are You Experienced wouldn’t be released in the US until August and Otis was more or less a singer in a niche genre. Of course, both men delivered arguably the defining sets of their career, Jimi famously lighting his guitar on fire and Otis (along with Booker T. & The MG’s) bringing the southern juke joint to thousands of astonished white people. Sadly, both men would be dead within a few years, Jimi overdosing in London in September 1970, and Otis dying in a plane crash six months after Monterey. But, for a few days in June 1967, both men ruled the stage.
Jimi Hendrix Experience – Brian Jones intro + Killing Floor
June 18, 1967
Otis Redding w/Booker T. & The MG’s – Shake
June 17, 1967
GET MONTEREY POPPED
The Complete Monterey Pop Festival [Criterion DVD]
Jimi Plays Monterey/Shake! Otis At Monterey [Criterion DVD]