Monterey Pop Celebrated Its 50th Birthday In Style…

Monterey International Pop Festival’s 50th Anniversary celebrated a joyous three-day weekend at the Monterey County Fairgrounds – the exact time and place the original Monterey International Pop Festival took place 50 years ago.

Produced by Another Planet Entertainment and Goldenvoice in association with the Monterey International Pop Festival Foundation, Monterey International Pop Festival – Celebrates 50 Years maintained a “music, love and flowers” mindset throughout the festival grounds, with an ambiance that hearkened back to the Summer of Love. With festival merchandise selling out over the three days, Levi’s provided a way for people to customize their own Summer of Love-inspired apparel by hosting an ’60’s themed pop-up with unique product collaborations, artist-led workshops, and one-of-a-kind clothing customizations.

It was a weekend full of big moments. Artists on this year’s lineup shared the sentiment that they were honored and inspired to represent the festival’s rich history at the 50-year celebration. They paid tribute to the 1967 performers by covering their songs, including Leon Bridges & Nathaniel Rateliff’s duet of Otis Redding’s “(Sittin’ On) the Dock of the Bay,” Nicki Bluhm & Dirty Dozen Brass Band’s version of Jefferson Airplane’s “White Rabbit,” Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats’ rendition of Big Brother and The Holding Company with Janis Joplin’s “Piece of My Heart” and The Head and the Heart’s beautiful performance of The Mama’s and The Papa’s “California Dreamin” with a surprise appearance by original member Michelle Phillips which got the crowd roaring and bowing in gratitude. Jack Johnson played “The Joker” by Steve Miller Band and “Foxy Lady” by Jimi Hendrix, and Hiss Golden Messenger performed “Brown-Eyed Women” by Grateful Dead. Gary Clark Jr. paid tribute to Jimi Hendrix and Langhorne Slim performed Canned Heat’s “Going Up The County.” Three artists who performed at the original festival in 1967, Phil Lesh (Grateful Dead), Booker T. Jones (Booker T. & The MG’s), and Eric Burdon came back to the fairgrounds to perform as Phil Lesh & The Terrapin Family Band, Booker T.’s Stax Revue, and Eric Burdon & The Animals, while Norah Jones also paid tribute to the ’67 festival by nodding to her father Ravi Shankar on stage and performing a Grateful Dead cover of “Ripple.” Jamtown’s set had everyone dancing with G. Love, Donavon Frankenreiter and Cisco Adler harmonizing and playing guitar while father, Lou Adler, watched from the crowd. There were also plenty of collaborations over the weekend, including Father John Misty and Nathaniel Rateliff joining Leon Bridges onstage for an epic close-out to night one and Norah Jones dueting with Jack Johnson on a stunning rendition of Grateful Dead’s “I Shall Be Released.” G. Love sat in with North Mississippi AllStars and famed music photographer Danny Clinch joined ALO and Jack Johnson among others for a song on the harmonica.

“It Happened In Monterey…Music, Love and Flowers” art exhibition and Morrison Hotel Gallery were on-site for all festival goers to enjoy. The art exhibit, designed by Abbott Miller and developed by Ileen Gallagher of ISG Productions, conjured the spirit of the 1967 festival with rare original documents, photographs, and artifacts and showed excerpts of D.A. Pennebaker’s famed documentary “Monterey Pop.” The Morrison Hotel Gallery hosted a pop-up gallery, which contained 50 photographic prints of the artists that performed at the original festival – all for sale. Photographer Henry Diltz, Morrison Hotel Gallery co-owner and founder, and one of the key photographers at the original festival was on-site signing autographs, along with other original photographers including Jerry de Wilde, Elaine Mayes, Lisa Law and D.A. Pennebaker. Lou Adler, the co-producer of 1967’s Monterey International Pop Festival and consultant for this year’s celebration, and original board member and Rolling Stones manager/producer Andrew Loog Oldham were at the event all weekend walking the grounds and taking in the incredible music.

The goal of the 50th-anniversary celebration was to commemorate Monterey International Pop Festival’s importance, legacy and lasting impact on contemporary culture. In the spirit of the original festival acting as the first charity festival, a portion of the weekend’s proceeds will go towards Monterey International Pop Festival Foundation, which was born in 1967. To learn more about the Foundation click HERE.

As it was once said, and now we can say it again…It happened in Monterey.

Photos by Jay Blakesberg