As you may have heard, Monterey Pop Festival celebrated its 50th anniversary last weekend. In honor of that, original Monterey co-producer Lou Adler (with help from Coachella organizers Goldenvoice and San Francisco promoters Another Planet Entertainment) threw a 50th anniversary festival 50 years to the day of the original. It had Monterey Pop alumni Phil Lesh (of the Grateful Dead), Eric Burdon and the Animals, and Booker T, plus newer artists who surely take some inspiration from the Summer of Love, like Kurt Vile, Father John Misty, and Jim James.

As Rolling Stone points out, some of the newer artists covered songs by artists who played the original festival. Leon Bridges and Charles Bradley both did Otis Redding tunes. Nicki Bluhm, who has performed with Grateful Dead members several times, did two Jefferson Airplane songs. The Head and the Heart, who have a big NYC show coming up, brought out the Mamas and the Papas' Michelle Phillips on stage for "California Dreamin'" (video below). Ravi Shankar's daughter Norah Jones did a Dead song and also one by Neil Young (who did not play the original Monterey but whose band Buffalo Springfield did play, joined by David Crosby).

Monterey Pop pre-dated Woodstock (and is mostly considered less of a disaster), and set the tone for music festivals as we know them today. If you like attending things like Coachella, Bonnaroo, Lollapalooza, Glastonbury, Primavera, Firefly, Governors Ball, Pitchfork Fest, and so on -- or you just dig groovy music -- the original Monterey Pop film is a must-see. It's not only a fascinating document of a fascinating time, but it's got footage of some truly legendary performances like the first major US appearance by Jimi Hendrix (where he famously lit his guitar on fire) and the first major US appearance by The Who (where they destroyed their instruments). The film and festival helped introduce the world to the powerhouse that is Janis Joplin. It further exposed the rock community to Indian musician Ravi Shankar. The film also boasts excellent performances by The Mamas & the Papas (whose John Phillips co-produced the festival), Simon & Garfunkel, Jefferson Airplane, Eric Burdon & the Animals, Otis Redding, and still more.


If you’d like to see the film in a theater, you’re in luck. In celebration of the 50th anniversary, a restored version is screening on various dates throughout America

It's at Williamsburg’s Nitehawk tonight (6/23) and Saturday (6/24) at midnight (arrive by 11:45 PM for seating), part of the BrooklynVegan-presented ‘Music Driven’ series of films at Nitehawk. Tickets are available.

In NYC, it’s also screening at IFC Center tonight through June 29 (tickets), and at BAMcinematek on August 12 (tickets TBA). If you’re going to one, be sure to wear some flowers in your hair.

I just attended a 50th anniversary screening of Monterey Pop at the Roxy Hotel last week (one day before Monterey Pop 50 happened), which was followed by a Q&A with director D.A. Pennebaker. Penny -- who's nearly 92 years young (!) and is also known for the Dylan film Don't Look Back, the Bowie film Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars, and so much more -- is genuinely humble and has fascinating stories to tell. He kept insisting he wasn't the "director" of Monterey Pop, as he really considers all five of the other cameramen to have been directors in their own right. He also kept insisting that they were all amateurs with no real vision, and things just kind of all came together (though he did admit that he and his crew impressively built their own portable cameras to be able to film the performances, something that was new at the time). Penny couldn't stress enough how blown away he and everyone was by Janis at the time (watch for Mama Cass' reaction to Janis' performance -- no matter how many times you see this film, it never fails to entertain), and he had a handful of stories about our other fallen rock icons. Hendrix? A gentle soul, nothing like what you'd expect from his on-stage persona, Penny said. Bowie? The sexual aura he gave off in performances was exactly what he gave off in real life. "If he told you to fuck him, you'd fuck him!"

Hendrix Monterey
Jimi Hendrix at Monterey, photo by D.A. Pennebaker (more here)


That screening and Q&A was in conjunction with both the Monterey Pop 50 festival and the Monterey Pop photo exhibitions at the NYC and LA locations of the Morrison Hotel Gallery, the official gallery of Monterey Pop 50. (The Morrison Hotel Gallery was founded by Henry Diltz, an official photographer for the original Monterey Pop Festival.) The galleries include photography by D.A. Pennebaker and Henry Diltz, as well as Jerry de Wilde, Elaine Mayes, Lisa Law, Guy Webster, and more. The exhibition opened the same day Monterey Pop 50 began, June 16, and it will remain open through July 3. Get a sneak peack at some of the pics and more info HERE.

Meanwhile, last weekend was also the official opening of Jimi Hendrix Park in Seattle.

And though Jimi, Janis, Jim and many others left us way too early, more than a handful are still on the road to this day. Check our guide to upcoming shows by some of 1967's best.

How are you celebrating the Summer of Love's 50th anniversary?


Watch Michelle Phillips' appearance with The Head and the Heart at Monterey Pop 50:

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