Monterey Pop Festival returns, tickets on sale now

Charles Bradley

Charles Bradley & His Extraordinaires will perform at the Monterey International Pop Festival.
Tim Parsons / Tahoe Onstage

Fifty years ago this June, the Monterey International Pop Festival scored its debut, shining a spotlight on the likes of Jimi Hendrix, Janice Jopin and Otis Redding. It helped usher in the Summer of Love and preceded Woodstock by two years, setting the stage for the rock festivals that would follow.

On Monday, organizers announced an impressive lineup for this year’s golden anniversary of the Monterey fest, to be held during the same days and at the same spot as the original. Artists include Jack Johnson, Phil Lesh & the Terrapin Family Band, Leon Bridges, Norah Jones, The Head and the Heart, Father John Misty, Regina Spektor, Kurt Vile & The Violators, and Booker T. Stax Revue.

The festival will be held June 16-18 again at the Monterey County Fairgrounds. Musicians who will have played both are Phil Lesh, Booker T. Jones and Eric Burdon. Three-day general admission and VIP tickets go on sale at 10 a.m. Friday, April 21, at Ticket prices have increased a bit since 1967 when the range was $3 to $6.50. Three-day general admission is $295, three-day reserved bleacher seat $450 and three-day VIP reserved seat $695. TICKETS

Monterey Pop FestivalOther bands include the North Mississippi Allstars, Nicki Bluhm & Dirty Dozen Brass Band, Charles Bradley & His Extraordinaires, Dr. Dog, Eric Burdon & The Animals, Hiss Golden Messenger, Jackie Greene, Jacob Banks, Jam Town feat. Cisco Alder, Donovan Frankenreiter and G. Love, Jim James, Langhorne Slim & The Law, and Sara Watkins.

Monterey Pop is considered one of the most important events in rock and roll music history. It was the first major rock festival and first rock charity, a forerunner for charity concerts such as Live Aid and Farm Aid and a blueprint for today’s commercial festivals.

“The Monterey International Pop Festival cannot be duplicated, but can be celebrated — and will be — by performers and attendees of the 50th anniversary festival,” said Lou Alder, who co-produced the 1967 fest with John Phillips of the Mamas & the Papas. Alder is involved once again in organizing this year’s celebration.

“When we set out on this endeavor, we had one goal: not to recreate the original festival, but to honor it,” said Gregg Perloff, CEO of Another Planet Entertainment. “How do you put on a show in 2017 with some of the sweetness and innocence of 1967? Of course, we’ll have a great sound system, but we’ll forego large video screens and overwhelming production for a more classic feeling. Lest we forget, it happened in Monterey.”

Phil Lesh played at the 1967 festival as a member of the Grateful Dead, which performed between The Who and Jimi Hendrix, a young American guitarist who had been making a name for himself in Britain. Lesh, in a New York Times article, said the Dead’s set didn’t gain much attention. After all, after they played, The Who smashed their instruments to smithereens and Hendrix lit his guitar on fire.

“Everyone was there,” Lesh said. “Everyone but The Beatles.”

Other 1967 Monterey Pops Festival soundbites:

  • After her performance with Big Brother and the Holding Company, Janis Joplin, who was an obscure blues singer living in San Francisco, signed with Clive Davis and Columbia Records.
  • Ravi Shankar was the only artist who was paid to perform. His daughter, Norah Jones, will perform at the 50th anniversary show.
  • The Beatles’ last live show was 10 months earlier, a few miles north at Candlestick Park in San Francisco. However, when the Monterey Pop Festival was held, The Fab Four band had just released its album “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.”
  • The Animals, fronted by Eric Burdon, played the first Monterey Pops Festival. Eric Burdon & The Animals will play at this year’s festival.
  • Other bands from the first festival were Buffalo Springfield, The Byrds, The Mamas & the Papas, The Butterfield Blues Band, The Electric Flag, Steve Miller, Jefferson Airplane, Quick Silver Messenger Service and Moby Grape.
  • Booker T. and the MGs played the first Monterey Festival. After 40 years, Booker T. Jones has returned to the Stax label with the album “Sound The Alarm.” It is unknown who will be included in the Stax Revue, but contributors to his album include Jones Mayer Hawthorne, Anthony Hamilton, Vintage Trouble, Estelle, Gary Clark Jr. and Luke James.
  • The Who will not appear for an encore at Monterey, but it will play at Lake Tahoe on Aug. 16.  Original members Roger Daltrey and Pete Townshend are 73 and 71, respectively.

About Tim Parsons

Tim Parsons is the editor of Tahoe Onstage who first moved to Lake Tahoe in 1992. Before starting Tahoe Onstage in 2013, he worked for 29 years at newspapers, including the Tahoe Daily Tribune, Eureka Times-Standard and Contra Costa Times. He was the recipient of the 2011 Keeping the Blues Alive award for Journalism.

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