It was the height of the Summer of Love, and the Monterey Pop Festival was the perfect place for the most culturally relevant performers of the day. The Who, Janis Joplin, The Grateful Dead, Otis Redding, The Mamas & the Papas, to name a few, were on the roster.
The festival was groundbreaking and thus deserves a revisit. There are some rather lesser-known facts about the music festival. So if you’re looking for something to talk about at dinner tonight, here’s some food for thought.
Janis Joplin’s performance with Big Brother & the Holding Company is credited as the catalyst for her successful career, which sadly ended at the ripe age of 27. The band’s set, including the cover of Big Mama Thornton’s Ball and Chain, caught the attention of Columbia Records.
They were signed shortly after the festival. Though not well-known at the time, Joplin has only included in the lineup thanks to suggestions from legendary concert promoter Bill Graham as well as the late San Francisco Chronicle music critic Ralph J. Gleason.
As it turns out, not everyone thought the pop festival was a good idea at first. Michelle Phillips, of The Mamas and the Papas, told the New York Times that originally she thought it “was a ridiculous idea.” She said: “How are you going to get all those musicians there, and pay them, and put them up, and make a profit?” Well, I guess she later changed her mind.
Fun fact: The festival organizers created what they called a “board of governors” to plan the event. The all-star lineup included: Paul Simon, Donovan, Smokey Robinson, Mick Jagger, Paul McCartney, and Brian Wilson.