The Diversity of Monterey Pop Festival

Three years ago in honour of the 50th anniversary of Woodstock, I wrote a blog post called The Diversity of Woodstock, where we talked about the diversity of the musicians who played there. I didn’t want to just stop at Woodstock and I intended to write about other festivals. With 2022 marking 55 years since Monterey International Pop Festival, what better time to make my second post in this series? Like in the Woodstock post, I’ll give some background information on the festival before talking about who played there.

An infographic I made sharing some fast facts about the Monterey Pop Festival: The founders were John Phillips, Lou Adler, Alan Pariser, and Derek Taylor. It was held on 16-18 June 1967 at the Monterey County Fairgrounds in Monterey, California. 32 acts from a wide variety of genres performed over the three days. Tickets ranged from $3.50-$6.50 a day, which is about $31-57 a day today. What a steal! An estimated 200,000 people attended over the three days, but other sources say attendance was between 25,000-90,000 people.

What was the Monterey International Pop Festival?

The Monterey International Pop Festival, often shortened to Monterey Pop Festival, was a once off festival held in Monterey, California – a city on California’s Central Coast, on 16-18 June 1967, marking the beginning of the Summer of Love, which was centred around Haight-Ashbury in San Francisco, only two hours north of Monterey. The goal of the festival was to help legitimise rock music, which was still a new genre, being a little over a decade old. It is said to be the first major rock/pop music event. This festival was the blueprint for Woodstock, which took place 2 years later on the opposite side of America. Jann Wenner, co-founder and publisher of Rolling Stone said that “Monterey was the nexus”, springing from what The Beatles began and what followed sprang from that festival.

Some of the musicians at the festival played both Monterey and Woodstock (Canned Heat, Janis Joplin, Country Joe & The Fish, Paul Butterfield Blues Band, Jefferson Airplane, Ravi Shankar, Stephen Stills of Buffalo Springfield – would go on to form CSN, The Who, Grateful Dead, and Jimi Hendrix), and the festival launched quite a few careers, including those of Jefferson Airplane, The Who, Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix, and Otis Redding – whose life was cut short by a plane crash in December of that year.

Like Woodstock, there were some big names who didn’t show up. In the case of Monterey, there were two big no-shows: The Beach Boys and Donovan. Why didn’t they show up? By 1967, Brian Wilson’s mental health went down the tubes and he withdrew from performing, but maintained a creative role in the band. He wasn’t the only one who had problems though. He was even on the festival’s board and the band were slated to perform after The Byrds, but last minute the band pulled out, and not just because of Brian Wilson’s health. Brian and his brother Dennis were really into drugs and Carl had issues of his own, trying to get out of the draft. The band’s no-show at Monterey had a negative impact and coloured the opinions of critics for years to come. As for Donovan, he was the first British rock star to be arrested for possession of marijuana and because he wasn’t Beatles or Stones level of fame, he was refused a visa to enter the US, but he would tour the US the following year. What a shame, because I think “Mellow Yellow” and “Sunshine Superman” would have fit in well.

The organisers of the festival were John Phillips of The Mamas and The Papas, producer Lou Adler, wealthy photographer Alan Pariser, and Beatles press officer Derek Taylor. They only planned the Monterey Pop Festival in seven weeks! The organisers were older than the organisers for Woodstock, who were all in their 20s. What made this festival different from Woodstock was that none of the performers were paid (except Ravi Shankar, who was paid $3k), but they did have their travel expenses and room & board paid for. All proceeds went to charity and this decision was made because of the political and social climate of the time: many protests, the hippie scene growing in popularity, and San Franciscans seeing the Los Angeles scene as phoney sell outs. Lou Adler called it one of the most important decisions they made regarding organising the festival. However, like Woodstock, there were songs written about/for it. Organiser John Phillips wrote Scott McKenzie’s “San Francisco (Be Sure to Wear Flowers in Your Hair)” to promote the festival (you can definitely hear that Mamas and the Papas sound in it). After the festival, Eric Burdon and The Animals wrote the single “Monterey” as a tribute to the festival. As well, there is video of both festivals. D.A. Pennebaker, who previously directed Dont Look Back, directed the Monterey Pop film, which came out the following year. In the case of Woodstock, Michael Wadleigh directed the film, which came out in March 1970. A 26-year-old Martin Scorsese was an assistant director and one of the editors on that film.

What made Monterey truly special was that it was a showcase of America’s hottest new rock and roll acts such as The Mamas and the Papas, The Byrds, Simon & Garfunkel, and Jefferson Airplane, the ones who became stars post-British Invasion (that was a real shakeup because most of the American rock stars who were famous before the British Invasion had their careers flop, most didn’t stay relevant), alongside rising stars from both sides of the Atlantic.

While Woodstock was known for mishaps (debts, deaths, injuries, and problems with logistics), Monterey went better: no one was arrested, no one died, and no one overdosed. I think I know where I’d rather be… Monterey!

An infographic about the diversity of the musicians who played Monterey Pop Festival. Of all the performers, 6 were women, 3 were bisexual, 3 were Asian, 12 were Black, 1 was Hispanic, 2 were Native, and 9 acts were multiracial bands. The musicians represented 6 different countries.

Where the performers were from:

Just how international was the Monterey International Pop Festival? While the lineup was largely American with good representation of all the different regions, there were performers from other countries. In total the 30+ acts represented 6 different countries: The US, Canada, UK, South Africa, India, and Iran.

What parts of America were the acts from? *Note: I am keeping this as simple as possible, as many of these California bands have transplant band members.

  • New York: Simon & Garfunkel, Al Kooper, Laura Nyro, The Blues Project (4 acts)
  • Chicago: Lou Rawls, The Paul Butterfield Blues Band, The Electric Flag (3 acts)
  • Louisiana: Johnny Rivers
  • Texas: Janis Joplin
  • Memphis: Booker T. & the MG’s, The Mar-Keys (2 acts)
  • Georgia: Otis Redding
  • San Francisco Bay Area: Big Brother & The Holding Company, Country Joe & The Fish, Quicksilver Messenger Service, Steve Miller Band, Moby Grape, Jefferson Airplane, Grateful Dead (7 acts)
  • Los Angeles: The Association, Canned Heat, The Byrds, Buffalo Springfield, The Mamas & The Papas (5 acts)
  • Seattle: Jimi Hendrix
  • Virginia: Scott McKenzie

In total that’s 9 states. No surprise that about half of the American acts are from California.

The following musicians were from Canada:

  • The Paupers
  • Bruce Palmer and Dewey Martin (Buffalo Springfield)
  • Denny Doherty (The Mamas and the Papas)

The following musicians were from the UK:

  • Adam Mitchell of The Paupers was born in Scotland
  • Beverley
  • Eric Burdon & The Animals
  • The Who
  • Noel Redding & Mitch Mitchell of The Jimi Hendrix Experience

As for other countries, Hugh Masekela was from South Africa, Ravi Shankar was from India, and Cyrus Faryar of The Group With No Name was from Iran.

Women Who Performed at Monterey:

It’s not surprising that most of the performers at Monterey Pop were men, but that’s the reality of the rock music scene of the 60s, it was a very much male-dominated field. That said, one of the most memorable performances was Janis Joplin, with her band Big Brother & The Holding Company, who performed twice at the festival, the second time so camera crews could film her performance. Only six women performed at the festival.

Beverley: Folk singer-songwriter from England, born Beverley Kutner in Coventry on 24 March 1947. She later married fellow folk musician John Martyn. She left Coventry for London to pursue a music career when she was only 15 years old. Before she was famous, she was a in a jug band called The Levee Breakers, singing lead vocals. As a teenager, she recorded her first single with The Levee Breakers, “Babe, I’m Leaving You”. She later got a record deal as a solo musician and released her solo debut, “Happy New Year” in 1966. Future Led Zeppelin members Jimmy Page and John Paul Jones played on that single, as well as London’s top session keyboardist/pianist Nicky Hopkins. Later, Pentangle guitarist Bert Jansch taught her how to play guitar and encouraged her to write songs. She also worked with Simon & Garfunkel, appearing on the Bookends track “Fakin’ It”. Both appeared at the Monterey Pop Festival, performing on the first day of the festival, the 16th of June. In 1970, she and her husband, John Martyn released two albums, Stormbringer! and The Road To Ruin. She didn’t release an album again until 1998, when she released No Frills. Her last album, The Phoenix and The Turtle, was released in 2014.

Janis Joplin: The Monterey International Pop Festival was the big break for this Texas-born psychedelic rock singer. Before the festival she was unknown, but this one festival changed her life and made her a household name. Big Brother and The Holding Company’s debut album came out a couple months after the festival. As a teenager she got into blues music, and later beat poetry, and never fit in her conservative hometown of Port Arthur. She liked dressing more tomboyish and comfortably. After dropping out of the University of Texas at Austin, she hitchhiked to San Francisco and fell in love with the city. She befriended lots of rock musicians in the scene, but got into drugs and got herself in trouble, and eventually ended up sent back to Texas, but she returned to San Francisco and joined Big Brother and the Holding Company. After two albums with them, she left for a solo career with a backing band, first the Kozmic Blues Band, and later the Full Tilt Boogie Band. She was also bisexual, having relationships with both men and women.

Laura Nyro: The youngest woman to perform at the festival, and one of the youngest musicians to play the festival, she was born in New York on 18 October 1947. She was of Jewish and Italian descent. Music is in her blood, with her father, Louis, being a jazz trumpet player and her younger brother, Jan, a children’s musician. A not very happy child, she turned to music and taught herself how to play piano. As a teenager, she performed music in the streets with her friends. Some influences on her were jazz records from her family’s collection and progressive politics – ones of peace and women’s rights. In 1966, she got a manager, record deal, and started recording. Her first single was “Stoney End” . While Laura was an excellent songwriter with a great voice, her versions aren’t as well known as covers. Her songs have been covered by musicians like Peggy Lipton, Barbra Streisand, The 5th Dimension, The Supremes and The Four Tops, Linda Ronstadt, Blood Sweat & Tears, Mama Cass, Rosanne Cash, Thelma Houston, and Three Dog Night. Famous fans of her work include Joni Mitchell, Kate Bush, Patti Smith, Todd Rundgren, Elton John, and Steely Dan. While she was never out as bisexual in her life, and only her closest friends knew, she had relationships with both men and women.

Grace Slick: Lead singer of Jefferson Airplane, but not the first frontwoman of the band. She replaced original lead singer Signe Toly Anderson after she left to raise her baby in late 1966. She was born Grace Wing in a suburb of Chicago on 30 October 1939 and was raised in California. Her parents were both students at the University of Washington and her father worked in the investment banking sector for Weeden and Company. After leaving university, she met aspiring filmmaker Jerry Slick and took his last name. She worked as a model for department store I. Magnin before becoming a rock singer. At first, she wasn’t sure about becoming a professional musician, but her mind was changed when she saw Jefferson Airplane at San Francisco nightclub The Matrix. Inspired by that, she and her husband formed The Great Society and they wrote some songs that would go on to be hits for Jefferson Airplane. Bassist Jack Casady asked Grace Slick to join the band and she jumped on the opportunity. It was a big step for her because Jefferson Airplane were more professional. From there, the band went in a more psychedelic direction that became popular, resulting in festival performances and TV appearances.

Cass Elliot: One of the singers of The Mamas and The Papas. She was considered to have the best voice in the band and had a reputation as the most charismatic member of the band. She was born in Baltimore, a third generation Russian Jewish American. Her father had a lunch wagon business and her mother was a nurse. In secondary school, she liked acting and was in a few school plays. She loved acting so much that she went to New York after graduating to pursue an acting career. As a student at American University in Washington DC, she started singing. While her birth name was Ellen, she chose the name Cass in secondary school as a tribute to actress Peggy Cass. Like a lot of Jewish musicians, she had a stage name and the surname Elliot was a tribute to a friend who passed away. Before she was in The Mamas and The Papas, she was in The Big Three and The Mugwumps. There were two famous Canadians in the latter group: Denny Doherty, who would be one of Cass’ bandmates in the Mamas and the Papas, and Zal Yanovsky, later of the Lovin’ Spoonful. Denny Doherty joined another group, the New Journeymen, with John and Michelle Phillips, and this group were the precursor to The Mamas and The Papas. At first, they were hesitant about Cass Elliot joining the band because of her weight and they feared that it would hurt the group’s image, but one listen to her voice and they were sold and so she joined the group. The band released their first album in 1966, If You Can Believe Your Eyes and Ears and it had multiple hits, namely “Monday, Monday” (which won a Grammy in 1967 for Best Pop Performance by a Duo or Group With Vocals), “California Dreamin'”, and “Go Where You Wanna Go”. The band went on to have even more hits: “I Saw Her Again”, “Words of Love”, “Dedicated to the One I Love”, and “Creeque Alley”. After 1968, the group had less success with rock and roll going in a heavier, bluesier direction, but Cass had a solo career, getting a hit with a version of “Dream a Little Dream of Me”. She also had a headline Vegas show at Caesars Palace, sadly for her she was having health problems and the performance was disappointing, with her voice not being as good as it used to be. She would often appear on TV shows and chat shows. She died in London in 1974 at the age of 32. Keith Moon died in the same flat 4 years later, also at the age of 32.

Michelle Phillips: One of the singers and songwriters of The Mamas and the Papas. She was born Holly Michelle Gilliam in Long Beach, California, the only one of the band from California. Interestingly enough, she’s also half Canadian, with her mother, Joyce, being born there. Her family moved around a bit and her family lived in Buffalo, New York and Mexico City during her childhood. Because of her time living in Mexico, she also could speak and write in Spanish. As a teenager, her family came back to LA. During secondary school, she played sports and multiple instruments: piano, guitar, and cello. At 17, she moved to San Francisco and started working as a model. While there, she met John Phillips and they fell in love. They got married in 1962, when Michelle was 18. The Monterey Pop Festival was one of the last live shows for The Mamas and The Papas, and in August 1967, the group played their last show at the Hollywood Bowl. In 1968, Michelle gave birth to her daughter Chynna Phillips, who would go on to be in Wilson Phillips with Brian Wilson’s daughters, Carnie and Wendy. The following year, she divorced John Phillips. The Mamas and the Papas recorded one final album in 1971 as a contractual obligation to their label. As you can expect, it sounded like they were trying to avoid a lawsuit and fans were disappointed. Afterwards, Michelle Phillips transitioned to acting and was in various movies and TV shows.

LGBT Performers at Monterey:

While I don’t believe any of the three bisexual performers were out at the time, there were three musicians who later came out as bisexual or were revealed to be bisexual: Janis Joplin, Laura Nyro, and Pete Townshend. Janis and Laura were mentioned in the previous section so see what I said above.

Pete Townshend: Lead guitarist and primary songwriter of The Who. He was born in London on 19 May 1945. His parents, Cliff and Betty, were both musicians. Their marriage was turbulent, so Pete was sent to live with his grandmother, Emma. He grew up in a neighbourhood with a lot of Polish and Jewish people. As a kid, he was a loner and an introvert and spent a lot of time reading. One day while at the seaside with his family, he saw Rock Around The Clock at the cinema and it changed his life. When Bill Haley toured the UK, Pete bought tickets, his first concert. When he was younger, he envisioned himself as a journalist or an artist, rather than a musician and so he went to art college. He still played music as a hobby and enjoyed it. One day, when talking to one of his lecturers about how much money he was making, he was encouraged to drop out and focus on his music because he was making more money than the lecturer. In the early 60s, he formed The Detours, who later became The Who, a name that Pete Townshend’s roommate came up with. Keith Moon joined the band in 1964 and the following year, The Who began their upwards trajectory into stardom. The band had a strong start with “I Can’t Explain” and “My Generation”, but didn’t tour the US until 1967. In the meantime, they had hits such as “Substitute”, “I’m A Boy”, and “Happy Jack”. While in the US, they played shows all across the country (not always to sell out crowds), destroyed hotel rooms, lived lavish with fancy meals and booze, and of course the cherry on top, playing Monterey Pop Festival! Fellow British Invasion star Eric Burdon introduced the band and they played a short set (their decision), all original hits and fan favourites: “Substitute”, “Pictures of Lily”, “A Quick One While He’s Away”, “Happy Jack”, “My Generation, and one cover: Eddie Cochran’s “Summertime Blues”. While I think they did well because even a bad Who show is still awesome (that’s how much I love The Who), The Who were very critical of their performance and were frustrated by the fact they didn’t have the money to bring their equipment over from England and so they had to settle with rented American equipment. While in America, they did some recording sessions for their upcoming album, The Who Sell Out, a fan favourite concept album in the format of a mock pirate radio show. If you haven’t listened to it, you need to right now! While Pete Townshend wasn’t out as bisexual in the 60s, he came out decades later.

Ethnic Diversity at Monterey:

There was some ethnic diversity at Monterey. Lots of musicians were of Jewish descent, but as for musicians of colour, there were three Asian musicians, all of different backgrounds; 12 black musicians; 1 of Hispanic (Spanish) descent, and 2 of Native American descent. Nine bands were multiracial: The Association, The Butterfield Blues Band, The Electric Flag, Steve Miller Band, Booker T. & The MG’s, The Mar-Keys, The Group With No Name, The Jimi Hendrix Experience, and The Mamas and The Papas (I did not count The Grateful Dead, as Jerry Garcia was half Spanish).

Asian Musicians

Larry Ramos (The Association): Guitarist and vocalist of The Association, a group well known for their harmonies. He was born in Hawaii on 19 April 1942 to a family of mixed Filipino, Chinese, and Spanish ancestry. At 4, his father taught him how to play ukulele. Not long after, he was winning talent shows and appearing in movies. He was a child star and a prodigy. In the early 50s, his family moved to California to further his career and when he was 13 he was in the national tour of The King and I. His parents wanted him to prioritise his studies, so the pulled him out of performing in musicals and he graduated from secondary school and studied political science in college.

Before he was in The Association, he was in folk group The New Christy Minstrels. When he tried out, he noticed he was the only Asian there and he was worried when he didn’t get a call back for weeks. Because he looked different from everyone else in the group, he was one of the more popular members of the group. He played on the group’s Grammy-winning debut album, Presenting The New Christy Minstrels, and constantly toured with them for three years. Eventually, he grew tired of this because he wanted to spend more time with his wife and kids. He continued working in music as a session musician, but one day in spring 1967, he was contacted by The Association, who said they wanted to hire him as their lead guitarist and so he went to San Francisco to see them and on short notice he had to get on stage because one of the band members got injured so he had to learn the songs in two hours and he did it! From that point on, he stayed in the band. By the time the band played Monterey he had only been in the group for about 3 months. The group introduced their hit “Along Comes Mary” with a funny robot sketch. They were the first to play the festival.

Ravi Shankar: Bengali Indian musician and composer of Hindustani classical music born on 7 April 1920. When you think sitar, you definitely think Ravi Shankar, the most internationally famous sitar player. An influence to psychedelic rock musicians, he taught George Harrison to play sitar. He was born into a Bengali Brahmin family and spent his youth touring India and Europe, dancing. At 18, he decided to study sitar under Allauddin Khan. He started touring internationally in Europe and the US as a sitar player in 1956. The Byrds were recording in the same studio as Ravi Shankar and liked what they were hearing, took inspiration, and told George Harrison about Indian Classical Music, and from there other rock stars jumped on the raga rock train and incorporated sitars in their music. In 1967, Ravi Shankar played the Monterey Pop Festival. He loved hearing all the rock music, but was horrified when he saw Pete Townshend and Keith Moon destroying their equipment and Jimi Hendrix setting his guitar on fire because it conflicted with his belief of having respect for instruments. Shankar’s live album at Monterey reached #43 on the Billboard albums charts. His set was well received.

Cyrus Faryar: This musician made an anonymous appearance at the festival with a band, later dubbed The Group With No Name. There is no surviving audio or video of the performance and no known setlist. He was born in Tehran in 1936. Before settling in America, his family lived in England. He went to secondary school and university in Hawaii, but dropped out. While in school, he was friends with Dave Guard of The Kingston Trio and The Whiskeyhill Singers. He got into the beatnik scene and started the first beat style coffee house in Hawaii, Greensleeves.

When he was 25, he moved to California and joined his friend Dave Guard’s group The Whiskeyhill Singers. After that group broke up, he went back to Hawaii and formed the Modern Folk Quartet. They started playing folk music, but turned to folk rock after the success of The Byrds. Some of his bandmates went on to be famous such as photographer Henry Diltz, future Turtles bassist Chip Douglas, and producer/musician Jerry Yester. The MFQ worked with Phil Spector and Jack Nitzsche. The group would often hang out at Phil Spector’s house. Sadly though, Phil Spector screwed them over because he put them on the back burner to produce Tina Turner’s masterpiece “River Deep-Mountain High”, when that didn’t become a hit, he fell into a depression and went crazy. Meanwhile, the MFQ only had their single, “This Could Be The Night” as the theme for The Big TNT Show (the sequel to the TAMI Show). The group never had a breakthrough and they broke up in 1966. They later reunited a couple times.

The same year as the Monterey Pop Festival, he collaborated with Mort Garson and Paul Beaver on The Zodiac: Cosmic Sounds – an album that Justin Hayward said influenced The Moody Blues’ Tales of Future Passed and honestly, I can hear some similarities – both are great albums. Afterwards, Cyrus Faryar mostly worked behind the scenes as a producer. In one interview, he said he never had the drive to be a star and just wanted to be part of a group. In an interview with blues.gr, he said this about Monterey – a festival that he described as diverse in sound and an incredible experience:

“For me, the whole of the Monterey Pop event is a bit like a fabulous banquet with so many different dishes and flavours; from outright bar-b-q to ice cream and cake. There should be one very year. Each player was so unique and amazing in their own way. It felt like an endless outpouring of talents and gifts. Some of the performers were old friends and they were just as amazed being part of that wonderful menu of great artists. I know we overlook it but now and then I’m am grateful beyond measure that I can relive and re-listen to it all again, in my home, thanks to memories on a disc. I reckon that in the old days, it was once and over. Hard to imagine. Some years ago, I worked at a radio station as a DJ and, there it was, available forever on a platter or disc or tape.”

– Cyrus Faryar

Black Musicians

Lou Rawls: Chicago born R&B and soul singer. He grew up on the South Side of Chicago in the Ida B. Wells projects. He was friends with fellow R&B musicians Sam Cooke and Curtis Mayfield. Like many other black musicians, he started out singing in church as a kid. Before the fame, he and Sam Cooke were in a gospel group. Sam Cooke went on to be in the Soul Stirrers before going solo and Lou Rawls joined the Pilgrim Travellers. While on tour with Sam Cooke, he was in a car accident and was pronounced dead before arriving at the hospital. He was in a coma for five days and miraculously he lived. This was life changing for him, as you can imagine. While he was an active musician since the 50s, he didn’t get major chart success or crossover success until 1966. He got his first top 20 pop hit with “Love is a Hurtin’ Thing”, and in 1967, “Dead End Street” made it to #29 on the pop charts and #3 on the R&B charts – it is one of his best known songs and it won a Grammy for Best R&B Vocal Performance. In total, he won three Grammys. The first black astronaut, Guion Bluford brought Lou Rawls’ 1983 album When The Night Comes into space.

Buddy Miles (The Electric Flag): Born George Allen Miles Jr on 5 September 1947 in Omaha, Nebraska, his father was a musician so music was in his genes. His father played upright bass for famous musicians like Count Basie, Duke Ellington, Charlie Parker, and Dexter Gordon. As a child, he played in his father’s band and got the nickname Buddy, after jazz drummer Buddy Rich. As a teenager, he worked with Ruby & The Romantics, The Delfonics, and Wilson Pickett and even met a pre-fame Jimi Hendrix, who was performing as a sideman. The two played a jam session together in LA in 1967. While working as Wilson Pickett’s drummer, Buddy Miles was approached to work in Mike Bloomfield’s band The Electric Flag. From there, the group needed a vocalist, and Bloomfield wanted to hire Mitch Ryder, but he wanted to stay with the Detroit Wheels so instead he approached Nick “The Greek” Gravenites to be vocalist. The Monterey Pop Festival was the band’s live debut. In 1967, the group did the soundtrack for The Trip and the following year they released the well-received A Long Time Comin’. After The Electric Flag broke up, Buddy Miles formed his own band.

Billy Davenport (Paul Butterfield Blues Band): Drummer who worked with Willie Dixon, Muddy Waters, Howlin’ Wolf, Otis Rush, and Paul Butterfield.

Gene Dinwiddie (Paul Butterfield Blues Band): Blues saxophone player who played in jazz and blues bands since the 50s. He joined Paul Butterfield in 1967. After The Paul Butterfield Blues Band, he was in spinoff group Full Moon.

Jerome Arnold (Paul Butterfield Blues Band): Bassist who previously worked with Howlin’ Wolf before joining the Paul Butterfield Blues Band in the mid 60s. His older brother is blues harmonica player Billy Boy Arnold. They were born in Chicago into a large family: 16 kids!

Tim Davis (Steve Miller Band): Drummer of the Steve Miller Band. Originally from Wisconsin, he joined the Steve Miller Band in the 60s and played on their first five albums. After leaving the band, he played the Isle of Wight, in a band backing Terry Reid. He also released two solo albums in the 70s.

Hugh Masekela: South African trumpet player. He was born in 1939 in a township called KwaGuqa in Witbank. As a child, he sang and played piano. At the age of 14, he saw Young Man With a Horn starring Kirk Douglas and that changed his life, from that point on, he knew he wanted to play trumpet. Anti-apartheid chaplain Trevor Huddleston bought him his first trumpet, and later was one of the people who helped him get out of South Africa. Hugh Masekela took some lessons, was a quick learner, and inspired his classmates to play musical instruments too. They formed the Huddleston Jazz Band, South Africa’s first youth orchestra. Huddleston was friends with Louis Armstrong and when he told him about this band, Armstrong sent a trumpet from his personal collection to Hugh Masekela. Much of Hugh Masekela’s music was political and personal, expressing his anger at the racist white minority South African government. Many black South Africans found the music resonated with them and he gained a following.

At the end of the 50s, he was part of the Jazz Epistles, the first African jazz band to record an LP. They were popular in Johannesburg and Cape Town. Hugh Masekela left South Africa in 1960, after the Sharpeville Massacre, where 69 protesters were shot dead. The government cracked down hard on protests and made it illegal for more than 10 people to gather. South Africa became even more of a police state. Trevor Huddleston, Yehudi Menuhin, and John Dankworth helped Masekela get to London on a student visa to study at Guildhall School of Music in London, but he didn’t stay in London for long. After going to the US and befriending Harry Belafonte, he moved to New York and started studying at the Manhattan School of Music from 1960-1964. He married fellow South African musician Miriam Makeba in 1964, but they divorced two years later. He worked with some classic rockers in the 60s, appearing as a guest musician on The Byrds’ “So You Wanna Be a Rock ‘n’ Roll Star” and “Lady Friend” and Paul Simon’s “Further to Fly”. His biggest hits were his version of “Up, Up and Away” (originally by The 5th Dimension) and the 1968 instrumental “Grazing in the Grass” – a chart topper.

Booker T. Jones (Booker T. & The MG’s): Organ player in Booker T. & The MG’s, the Stax Records house band. This band played on tracks by Wilson Pickett, Otis Redding, Bill Withers, Sam & Dave, Carla Thomas, Rufus Thomas, Johnnie Taylor, and Albert King. Their biggest hit was the 1962 instrumental “Green Onions”, you recognise it as soon as you hear it. Booker T. himself was born in Memphis, Tennessee in 1944 and named after none other than the famous educator, Booker T. Washington. As you might expect from the choice in name, his father (also named Booker T. Jones) was a science teacher. Booker T. was a child prodigy and a multi-instrumentalist. While in secondary school, he was appointed director of the school band. He could play the oboe, saxophone, trombone, and double bass, as well as the piano and organ. If that’s not enough Booker T. Washington connections, he went to Booker T. Washington High School, the same school Rufus Thomas went to.

At just 16 years old and still in secondary school, he started playing music professionally, working as a session musician for Stax Records. He played baritone sax on Stax’s first hit, “‘Cause I Love You” by father and daughter duo, Rufus and Carla Thomas. While working at Stax, he met future bandmate, guitarist Steve Cropper and they formed Booker T. & The MG’s. Like The Ventures, they would record instrumental covers of chart hits. There was a lull after “Green Onions”, but don’t worry they were no one hit wonders. In 1967, they got a hit with “Hip Hug-Her” and they made a comeback. In 1967, they went on tour in Europe with various other Stax musicians and of course, played the Monterey Pop Festival.

Al Jackson Jr (Booker T. & The MG’s): Drummer of Booker T. & The MG’s. Also known as The Human Timekeeper. Also from Memphis, he was from a musical family, with his father leading a jazz/swing dance band. Before Booker T. & The MG’s, he was in trumpet player Willie Mitchell’s band and in the Ben Branch band. Steve Cropper and Donald “Duck” Dunn heard him playing with Willie Mitchell’s band and they wanted him to join the band that would be Booker T. & The MG’s, but Jackson was hesitant because he wanted a weekly salary. He ended up getting a weekly salary, the first Stax session musician to be on a weekly salary. He was murdered in his home on 1 October 1975.

Andrew Love (The Mar-Keys): Saxophone player and one of The Memphis Horns. He was born in Memphis and got into music through church. After attending Langston University in Oklahoma, he came back to his hometown and worked as a session musician at Stax Records. Not only did he play on Stax artists’ recordings, he also played on some Neil Diamond, Elvis, Dusty Springfield, Lulu, Joe Cocker, and Stephen Stills songs.

Otis Redding: Soul musician born in Georgia. He was born in Dawson and raised in Macon. His father was a sharecropper, who later worked at an Air Force base and even preached too. As a child, he sang and played guitar and piano at church. His biggest influences were Sam Cooke and Little Richard. Early on, he would sing on the radio and at talent shows and made a bit of cash from that. When he was 15, his father fell ill from TB and he had to work to help support his family since his mother didn’t make enough money.

In the early 60s, he made his first recordings, but he didn’t get a breakthrough until the mid 60s with the singles “Mr Pitiful” (#41 pop, #10 R&B), “That’s How Strong My Love Is” (#74 pop, #18 R&B), and “I’ve Been Loving You Too Long” (#21 pop, #2 R&B). The Monterey Pop Festival was his nationwide crossover breakthrough, playing to an audience of mostly white hippies (who he called The Love Crowd) who had never heard him before. Before that, he was mostly playing to black audiences, except for the European tour. His performance was considered one of the highlights of the festival. Brian Jones and Jimi Hendrix loved his performance. Sadly, just a few months later, he developed polyps on his larynx and it required surgery so he couldn’t capitalise on the success and play concerts. In December 1967, he recorded his most successful song, “Sitting On The Dock of the Bay”, but sadly he didn’t live to see the chart success. He was confident though that it was his best song yet and would top the charts and indeed it did. It made history as the first posthumous #1 in American chart history. Makes you wonder what else Otis Redding could have accomplished had he not died in a plane crash at the age of 26.

Jimi Hendrix: Does he really need an intro? An absolute guitar god who went from the Chitlin’ Circuit to London. He was born Johnny Allen Hendrix (later changed to James Marshall Hendrix) on 27 November 1942 in Seattle to Lucille and Al Hendrix. He was mixed, mostly black with some white and Native American ancestry. Al was born in Vancouver and later moved to Seattle, where he met Lucille. During the first few years of Jimi’s life, Al was in the army. Once he came back in 1945, he had trouble finding a job. Life at home wasn’t happy because Al and Lucille struggled with addictions to alcohol and fought. At times, he’d stay with his grandparents in Vancouver.

As a kid, he liked to mock playing guitar with a broom. The school social worker urged Jimi’s father to buy him a guitar, but he refused. When he was 14, he and his father cleaned a woman’s home and found a ukulele. which the woman gave to Jimi. He would play single notes and learn to play by ear, listening to Elvis. Finally, at 15, he bought an acoustic guitar and listened to the blues, practising for hours. He ended up dropping out of school. The next year, his father finally got him an electric guitar so he could be heard and he listened to both blues and rock and roll, from both black and white musicians.

At 18, he was caught riding in a stolen car and was given the choice between prison or joining the army, so he picked the army. He was assigned to the 101st Airborne Division, stationed at Fort Campbell, Kentucky. Far away from his girlfriend and his guitar, he asked his dad to send him his guitar. In 1962, he was discharged from the army. He and Billy Cox (a friend he met while in the army) moved to Tennessee and that’s when he started playing guitar with his teeth. Besides playing at various clubs, he was in backing bands for Wilson Pickett, Slim Harpo, Sam Cooke, Ike & Tina Turner, and Jackie Wilson.

In 1964, Jimi Hendrix went to New York and won first prize in the Apollo Theatre amateur contest and played some clubs in Harlem. He was introduced to the Isley Brothers and was offered a job as their guitarist. As mentioned above, he played on the song, “Testify”. He left the Isley Brothers for Little Richard’s touring band because he wanted to try something different. While in Los Angeles, he befriended Arthur Lee of Love. In 1965, as part of Little Richard’s band, he made his first TV appearance. Jimi was fired because he didn’t get along well with Little Richard and because of other issues like tardiness, stage antics, and wardrobe.

In 1966, Linda Keith, Keith Richards’ girlfriend, saw Jimi Hendrix play at a nightclub in New York and they became friends. She recommended him to Andrew Loog Oldham, the Stones’ manager, who rejected him. Next, The Animals bassist Chas Chandler, who was interested in starting a career as a manager/producer, saw him at Cafe Wha? and was impressed and invited him to go to London to form a band. When he got to London, Chas Chandler helped him put together a band, The Jimi Hendrix Experience. By the end of 1966, the Jimi Hendrix Experience got a record deal, signed to Track Records, started by The Who managers Kit Lambert and Chris Stamp. On October 23, 1966, their first single, “Hey Joe” was released, making the top 10 in the UK. “Purple Haze” was their next single and that reached #3 on the UK charts, but only #65 on the US charts. In 1967, The Jimi Hendrix Experience released their debut, Are You Experienced? That album had a lot of hits like “Hey Joe”, “Purple Haze”, and “The Wind Cries Mary”. The album was a success, selling over 1 million copies within 7 months of its release.

Sadly for Jimi, “Hey Joe” didn’t make the charts in the US, but famous friend Paul McCartney suggested the organisers of the Monterey Pop Festival add Jimi to the lineup because the festival wouldn’t be complete without him. Never doubt Paul McCartney, because he was 100% right! Brian Jones introduced The Jimi Hendrix Experience, calling Jimi the most exciting performer he’d ever heard. At the end of his famous set, he set his guitar on fire and threw the remains into the crowd. When Pete Townshend and Mama Cass watched the set, Mama Cass told Pete that Jimi stole his act and Pete replied that Jimi’s doing his (as in Pete’s) act. It was one of the most iconic moments in rock and roll history. There’s a dark side though. Before The Who and Jimi Hendrix went on, there were fights between them over who would go first. John Phillips had them flip a coin and Pete won the coin toss. In the end, the order was The Who, Grateful Dead, and then Jimi Hendrix. I feel bad for The Mamas and The Papas and Scott McKenzie because they had to go after Jimi Hendrix.

Hispanic Musicians

Jerry Garcia: Lead guitarist and vocalist for The Grateful Dead. People call him the leader of the band, but he didn’t think of himself that way. He was the founder of the band and a consistent member for 30 years, playing with the band until his death. He was half Spanish (Galician) and was born in San Francisco. He took piano lessons as a kid. When he was 4, his family went to the mountains and his brother accidentally chopped two thirds of his middle finger off. A year after the accident, Jerry Garcia’s father died while fishing. He slipped on a rock in a river and drowned. In the 50s, he got into rock and roll and R&B thanks to his older brother. He met his bandmates in the early 60s and finally started The Grateful Dead in 1965.

In 1967, the band started performing at more major events and they released their debut album. The Monterey Pop Festival was one of their most famous performances. It was tough for them to play in between The Who and Jimi Hendrix, but their set was well received with people saying their performance was pure and genuine, a departure from the commercialised LA sound. At first, the Grateful Dead weren’t going to play the festival, and they even threatened to start their own rival festival.

Native American Musicians

Jimi Hendrix: See above.

John Phillips: Primary songwriter and one of the members of The Mamas and The Papas. He was born in Parris Island, South Carolina. His father was a retired Marine Corps officer who fought in WWI. His mother was apparently part Native American. He grew up in Virginia and for a time, went to military school. He hated how authoritarian it was. As a kid, he liked singing doo-wop and playing basketball, and as you can expect from the latter, he was tall at 6’5″. After dropping out of college, he pursued a music career. He started a group called The Journeymen with Scott McKenzie and Dick Weissman. He was in Greenwich Village during the folk revival and that’s how he met Denny Doherty and Cass Elliot. Not only did John Phillips perform at the festival, as said before, he helped organise it.

The Mamas and The Papas, like Fleetwood Mac, had their own personal issues regarding relationships, with Michelle cheating on John with Denny, and that led to the group’s demise, in the case of The Mamas and The Papas. They split in 1968 because Cass wanted to go solo, as well as the love triangle. After John and Michelle divorced, John continued making music, but his solo album John, The Wolf King of LA, was a flop. He withdrew from the spotlight and got addicted to drugs. He was convicted of drug trafficking in 1981 and after he was released from jail he formed a new Mamas and The Papas group with his daughter, Mackenzie, and toured with them. On Oprah in 2009, Mackenzie revealed that her father was abusive: he got her smoking weed at 10, he would get her to do cocaine with him when she was as young as 11, and he raped her when she was 19, the night before her first wedding. The incestuous relationship lasted for a decade and Mackenzie experienced Stockholm syndrome. After John impregnated Mackenzie and she got an abortion, the incest ended. John Phillips was never arrested or charged with incest. He died in 2001 at the age of 65.

Age of Musicians at Monterey:

A chart that reads Age of Performers @ Monterey Pop Festival: 16-18 June 1967. On the x axis are the ages of the musicians and on the y axis, the number of performers who were each age

The youngest to play Monterey was Bruce Barthol, who was born 11 November 1947 – making him only 19. Coming close were Bob Weir and Laura Nyro, who were only a month older, and Buddy Miles was a month older than Bob Weir and Laura Nyro. The oldest to play the festival was obviously Ravi Shankar, who was 47. As you can expect, this was a very young festival lineup with the majority (about 90%) being in their 20s. Only seven performers* were in their 30s (so that’s less than 10%). The average age of a performer is about 24. The most common age of performer was 23 (someone born in early 1944 or late 1943), with 19 of the performers being that age, but 25 (someone born in early 1942 or late 1941) came close with 17 performers being that age, so that average makes sense.

If you want the list of musicians and ages that I was able to find*, you can see that below. This is not an exhaustive list, but what I could find with a quick Google search. How many names do you recognise?

*Note: Some musicians who played at Monterey are rather obscure/private, ergo it was hard to find their birthdays or for that matter, much information on them. This is still a decent sample of musicians and ages. Some I had to estimate since I only had a birth year. Some people had birthdays not too long after Monterey, but I am not rounding up ages – just giving you the age of the musician at that time, if I know it.

  1. Bob Weir (19) – Grateful Dead
  2. Bruce Barthol (19) – Country Joe & The Fish
  3. Buddy Miles (19) – The Electric Flag
  4. Laura Nyro (19)
  5. Barry Melton (20) – Country Joe & The Fish
  6. Beverley (20)
  7. Bruce Palmer (20) – Buffalo Springfield
  8. Denny Gerrard (20) – The Paupers
  9. Doug Hastings (20) – Buffalo Springfield (turned 21 a few days after the festival)
  10. Gary Duncan (20) – Quicksilver Messenger Service
  11. Greg Elmore (20) – Quicksilver Messenger Service
  12. John Weider (20) – The Animals
  13. Keith Moon (20) – The Who
  14. Mitch Mitchell (20) – The Jimi Hendrix Experience
  15. Bill Kreutzmann (21) – Grateful Dead
  16. Danny McCulloch (21) – The Animals
  17. David Sanborn (21) – Paul Butterfield Blues Band
  18. Noel Redding (21) – The Jimi Hendrix Experience
  19. Peter Lewis (21) – Moby Grape
  20. Ron “Pigpen” McKernan (21) – Grateful Dead
  21. Skip Spence (21) – Moby Grape
  22. Adam Mitchell (22) – The Paupers
  23. Barry Jenkins (22) – The Animals
  24. Booker T. Jones (22) – Booker T. & The MG’s
  25. Chris Hillman (22) – The Byrds
  26. Harvey Brooks (22) – The Electric Flag
  27. Henry Vestine (22) – Canned Heat
  28. James Cooke (22) – Steve Miller Band
  29. John Entwistle (22) – The Who
  30. Mark Naftalin (22) – Paul Butterfield Blues Band
  31. Pete Townshend (22) – The Who
  32. Stephen Stills (22) – Buffalo Springfield
  33. Steve Katz (22) – The Blues Project
  34. Vic Briggs (22) – The Animals
  35. Al Kooper (23)
  36. Alan Wilson (23) – Canned Heat
  37. Andy Kulberg (23) – The Blues Project
  38. Boz Scaggs (23) – Steve Miller Band
  39. Chuck Beal (23) – The Paupers
  40. Herbie Rich (23) – The Electric Flag
  41. Jack Casady (23) – Jefferson Airplane
  42. Jerry Miller (23) – Moby Grape
  43. John Cipollina (23) – Quicksilver Messenger Service
  44. Michelle Phillips (23) – The Mamas and The Papas
  45. Mike Bloomfield (23) – The Electric Flag
  46. Peter Albin (23) – Big Brother & The Holding Company
  47. Richie Furay (23) – Buffalo Springfield
  48. Roger Daltrey (23) – The Who
  49. Roy Blumenfeld (23) – The Blues Project
  50. Russ Giguere (23) – The Association
  51. Skip Prokop (23) – The Paupers
  52. Steve Miller (23) – Steve Miller Band
  53. Tim Davis (23) – Steve Miller Band
  54. Barry Goldberg (24) – The Electric Flag
  55. Bob Hite (24) – Canned Heat
  56. Brian Cole (24) – The Association
  57. Danny Kalb (24) – The Blues Project
  58. David Cohen (24) – Country Joe & The Fish
  59. Elvin Bishop (24) – Paul Butterfield Blues Band
  60. Janis Joplin (24) – Big Brother & The Holding Company
  61. Jerry Garcia (24) – Grateful Dead
  62. Jimi Hendrix (24) – The Jimi Hendrix Experience
  63. Johnny Rivers (24)
  64. Larry Taylor (24) – Canned Heat
  65. Paul Butterfield (24) – Paul Butterfield Blues Band
  66. Roger McGuinn (24) – The Byrds
  67. Ted Bluechel (24) – The Association
  68. Andrew Love (25) – The Mar-Keys
  69. Art Garfunkel (25) – Simon & Garfunkel
  70. Bugsy Maugh (25) – Paul Butterfield Blues Band
  71. Cass Elliot (25) – The Mamas and The Papas
  72. Country Joe McDonald (25) – Country Joe & The Fish
  73. David Crosby (25) – The Byrds (also appeared with Buffalo Springfield, filling in for Neil Young, who left the band)
  74. Don Stevenson (25) – Moby Grape
  75. Donald “Duck” Dunn (25) – Booker T. & The MG’s
  76. Frank Cook (25) – Canned Heat
  77. Jim Murray (25) – Quicksilver Messenger Service
  78. Larry Ramos (25) – The Association
  79. Marty Balin (25) – Jefferson Airplane
  80. Otis Redding (25)
  81. Paul Simon (25) – Simon & Garfunkel
  82. Sam Andrew (25) – Big Brother & The Holding Company
  83. Steve Cropper (25) – Booker T. & The MG’s
  84. Wayne Jackson (25) – The Mar-Keys
  85. Denny Doherty (26) – The Mamas and The Papas
  86. Dewey Martin (26) – Buffalo Springfield
  87. Eric Burdon (26) – The Animals
  88. Jorma Kaukonen (26) – Jefferson Airplane
  89. Paul Kantner (26) – Jefferson Airplane
  90. Dave Getz (27) – Big Brother & The Holding Company
  91. Gary Hirsh (27) – Country Joe & The Fish
  92. Grace Slick (27) – Jefferson Airplane
  93. James Gurley (27) – Big Brother & The Holding Company
  94. Phil Lesh (27) – Grateful Dead
  95. Terry Kirkman (27) – The Association
  96. David Freiberg (28) – Quicksilver Messenger Service
  97. Hugh Masekela (28)
  98. Nick Gravenites (28) – The Electric Flag
  99. Scott McKenzie (28)
  100. Spencer Dryden (29) – Jefferson Airplane
  101. Gene Dinwiddie (30) – Paul Butterfield Blues Band
  102. Jerome Arnold (30) – Paul Butterfield Blues Band
  103. Al Jackson (31) – Booker T. & The MG’s
  104. Cyrus Faryar (31) – The Group With No Name
  105. John Phillips (31) – The Mamas and The Papas
  106. Lou Rawls (33)
  107. Billy Davenport (36) – Paul Butterfield Blues Band
  108. Ravi Shankar (47)

Monterey Compared to Woodstock:

There are similarities and differences between Monterey and Woodstock. Since I was born decades after those festivals, I can’t say with any certainty what the vibes were, but I can say that both were important historical events, generally speaking and two of the most important festivals in rock and roll history. While Woodstock gets a lot of the glory, I think Monterey deserves its due, for being the blueprint, for being better organised, for its musical diversity, and for it being a charitable event – a better reflection of what hippie values are. Woodstock became too commercialised and the truth is it wasn’t well organised.

When talking about the demographics, Woodstock had more female performers and more ethnic diversity. Both had the same number of LGBT performers and the average age of a performer was about the same. Monterey though was a bit more international with performers coming from 6 countries, compared to Woodstock which had performers from 5 different countries. Monterey’s big advantage over Woodstock? The diversity in sound. Diversity, when I talk about it on this blog, isn’t just about identity, it’s about people’s stories and what they create. Each person is an individual, and an important value of the 60s is everyone being an individual with their own unique story and for them to be free to be themselves and do what they want to do.

Below is a little comparison infographic I made:

An infographic comparing Monterey and Woodstock. This reiterates points I made in the blog post

As always, feel free to share this blog post with your classic rock fan friends and you are also welcome to share the infographics, just make sure my name is included and you credit me in some way, whether it’s linking back to this blog post or tagging me on social media. That would be very much appreciated. 🙂

Sources/Background Info:

Loved this blog post and want to support and see more? Donate to The Diversity of Classic Rock or follow me on FacebookTwitter, or Instagram, click the follow button on my website, leave a nice comment, send your music or classic rock related books for review, or donate your art and writing talents to the blog. Thank you for the support!

You can also download the Brave Browser and earn tokens that you can donate to your favourite creators (including me!), donate to charity, or you can keep them for yourself and redeem them for cash. The choice is yours! Thank you!