Monterey Pop Celebrates 50th

The Monterey International Pop Festival turned 50 on Friday and celebrated its anniversary by kicking off another three-day concert that’s bringing back a few acts from a half century ago.

Eric Burdon
Eric Risberg/AP
– Eric Burdon
Monterey International Pop Festival in Monterey, Calif.

Back in 1967, the Monterey festival was the centerpiece of the “Summer of Love.” The June 16-18, 1967, event featured local San Francisco bands still in early stages of their careers, like the Grateful Dead, Janis Joplin and Jefferson Airplane. And it introduced Jimi Hendrix, The Who, Otis Redding and Ravi Shankar to an American audience.

Grammy-winning record producer Lou Adler, one of the original concert’s organizers, came back to co-produce this year’s event, which runs through Sunday. For him, being back at the Monterey County Fairgrounds was like traveling back in time but also a potent reminder that so much time has passed.

“It’s emotional and, in a way, it brings back lots of memories,” Adler said.  “Not just memories of the music and the spirit, but of the people I worked with to bring about Monterey the first time who are no longer with us.  So many good people no longer around, and that is one of the instant memories that comes to me.”

“I’m feeling a lot of the same spirit and reverberations from the music,” Adler added, drawing a parallel between the 1960s counterculture era and today’s political divisions. “I think it’s because the times we are in are similar to times we were in in 1967.”

Andrew Oldham and Lou Adler
Eric Risberg/AP
– Andrew Oldham and Lou Adler
Listen to Charles Bradley and his Extarordinaires during the Monterey International Pop Festival in Monterey, Calif.

Norah Jones, is among the two dozen performers signed up for the 50th anniversary concert. Three acts that played in 1967 will be back on stage this weekend, including Eric Burdon and the Animals, Booker T. Stax Revue and Phil Lesh.

One sign of changing times is the ticket price. The original prices ranged from $3 to $6.50. Tickets for this year’s shows cost $105 per day, or $295 to $695 for a three-day VIP package.

Sarah Hayes of Carmel Valley, California, wasn’t born when the first Monterey festival took place. But she didn’t want to miss this one.

“I couldn’t be here 50 years ago,” said Hayes, 45, working as a greeter for the weekend festival, dressed in Sixties attire and holding a pink umbrella. “I heard there was going to be another Pop Festival, so here I am.”

“The next few days I’m having fun, spreading love and unity,” Hayes said.