When asked to name an American music festival of the late 1960s most people will naturally think of Woodstock, the 1969 festival often credited with accelerating the counterculture of the time, and giving birth to the idea of the outdoor weekend music festival as we have come to think of it.
Though Woodstock was clearly a big deal, it was in fact preceded by the Monterey International Pop Festival two years earlier, and the event returns in 2017 to mark its 50th anniversary.
The 1967 Monterey line up included the likes of The Mamas & The Papas, The Byrds, Simon and Garfunkel, Otis Redding, Booker T. & the MGs, and The Grateful Dead. Legend has it that Jimi Hendrix and The Who tossed a coin to see who would go on first for the closing evening. The press release described the event as "charitable, literary and educational in nature", and the organisers sought to distribute proceeds to underprivileged young people in San Francisco, making the event one of the first socially conscious, charitable concerts, years before the likes of Live Aid.
Lou Adler, one of the original Monterey International Pop founders who co-produced the 1967 festival alongside John Phillips of The Mamas & The Papas, is overseeing the 2017 festival weekend. Lou said, "The Monterey International Pop Festival cannot be duplicated but can be celebrated and will be, by the performers and the attendees at the 50th Anniversary festival."
Much like 1977, when punk blossomed into a social force for change, 1967 was also a crucible of new ideas and ideologies in youth culture, giving rise to many of the musical milestones that mark our cultural landscape today. We take a look at a few game changers released in 1967 including some of those that played at the festival.
The 'Beatles - Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band'
In Britain, The Beatles released one of the most iconic albums of all time, arguably the most iconic album of all time, Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band. 1967 also saw them release 'Magical Mystery Tour' and the EP 'Strawberry Fields Forever', but it is Sgt. Pepper that seems to have transcended the passing, decades remaining a touchstone for countless musicians and dreamers ever since. We recently looked at the 50 year legacy of the Fab Four's magnum opus in depth here, so to prove the immediate impact the album had in 67 here is Jimi Hendrix famously covering the title track just after its release.
Pink Floyd - 'Piper At the Gates Of Dawn'
Another British band who made their mark in 1967 were Cambridge's Pink Floyd, counting psychedelic pioneer Syd Barrett among their line up at this point. 'Piper At The Gates Of Dawn' is still regarded as a sort of holy text for the British psych movement and much of the late 60s counterculture that was associated with it. Find out more about early Pink Floyd and their origins here.
The Who - 'The Who Sell Out'
Appearing on the Monterey billing of 67, The Who were another of the big British bands of the period credited with inspiring a generation and stoking up the cultural revolution. Their third LP 'The Who Sell Out' was released late in 1967, adding fan favourites such as 'I Can See For Miles' to their set lists.
Rolling Stones - 'Between The Buttons'
The Stones released two albums in 1967 and it is widely regarded as the total output of their short-lived psych period. 'Between the Buttons' was more favourably received at the time than the later 'Their Satanic Majesties Request', with the former including 'Ruby Tuesday' and 'Let's Spend The Night Together' across its various track listings. The latter album has become more critically acclaimed in recent years with songs such as 'She's A Rainbow' but invited some negativity at the time for its deliberate similarities and references to Sgt. Pepper's. Imagery hidden in Satanic Majesties' elaborate lenticular printed cover was widely interpreted as a response to the inclusion of a Rolling Stones T-Shirt on the Peter Blake's well-known cover for the Beatles LP.
The Kinks - 'Something Else By The Kinks'
An excellent album that was at something at a disadvantage on its release, being eclipsed in market terms by the success of its lead single 'Waterloo Sunset' which came out several months earlier. The album continued in the change of direction set out by its preceding 'Face to Face' with Ray Davies' uniquely British songwriting sensibility coming to the forefront.
Small Faces - 'Small Faces'
Confusingly released as 'Small Faces' in the UK and 'There Are But Four Small Faces' in the US, it was originally the US version of this album that included what are perhaps its best-known tracks in the form of 'Itchycoo Park' and 'Tin Soldier'. The album remains a canon of mod culture, cited by the likes of Paul Weller as a favoured reference point.
Love - 'Forever Changes'
Led by Arthur Lee, Los Angeles' Love had a darker and more cynical approach to the blossoming age of flower power, compared to some of their peers, which was encapsulated perfectly in 'Forever Changes'. Taking its title from an overheard conversation between two parting lovers, who had previously promised that they would love each other forever, the album's big single was 'Alone Again Or', written by Lee's bandmate Bryan MacLean. Another song which remains a standard of 1960s culture and everything derived from it.
The Velvet Underground & Nico - 'The Velvet Underground & Nico'
Another of 1967's darker releases, the debut from The Velvet Underground & Nico followed the band's involvement with Andy Warhol's controversial exploits of the previous year. With Warhol credited as producer, the similarly controversial content of the album meant that many record stores refused to stock it, with many radio stations refusing to give it airtime, resulting in poor commercial sales upon release. Despite this, the record went on to become one of the biggest and widest felt influences on alternative music of all time. Along with its iconic Warhol banana artwork, it has become a constant presence over its five-decade existence.
The Jimi Hendrix Experience - 'Are You Experienced'
Hendrix and his band were added to the Monterey billing on the recommendation of Paul McCartney. Although Hendrix was already making waves, especially in the UK, it was this performance that kick-started the band's American success. Monterey 67 led to other much-lauded performances such as Woodstock, but it was this set that ended with the now famous on-stage burning of the Hendrix Fender Strat. Like many of the albums on this list, the track listings on the UK/Europe and US versions of the record are quite different, though both feature 'Foxy Lady'.
The Doors - 'The Doors'
The eponymous debut from The Doors contained among its eleven tracks, 'Light My Fire', a song that has become perhaps something of a cliché in relation to late '60s American counterculture. Nevertheless, the record's themes and subject matter worried mainstream conservative America while provoking and inspiring rebellion and idolisation from fans and followers, elevating rock-poet Jim Morrison to a cult figure.
1967 witnessed such an explosion of new creativity that the ten albums listed above are just a small slice of what was released that year, with many records being self-titled debuts of bands that are still household names. Check out the list below for further listening.
Procol Harum - 'Procol Harum'
Grateful Dead - 'Grateful Dead'
Traffic - 'Mr Fantasy'
The Byrds - 'Younger Than Yesterday'
The Yardbirds - 'Little Games'
The Moody Blues - 'Days of Future Passed'
Cream - 'Disraeli Gears'
Jefferson Airplane - 'Surrealistic Pillow'
Mothers of Invention - 'Absolutely Free'
13th Floor Elevators - 'Easter Everywhere'
Find out more about Monterey International Pop Festival, including this year's line up at montereyinternationalpopfestival.com