Celebrating its 50 year anniversary, the Monterey Pop Festival returned this weekend, and with much of the same spirit as the original three-day festival. Organizer Lou Adler, who helped bring the spotlight to several musical icons five decades ago, brought back some of those same acts as well as fresh talent from more recent years to commemorate the festival’s 50th birthday.
Way back in 1967, the Monterey Pop Festival kicked off what is now known as “The Summer Of Love,” the social and political phenomenon that arose from the burgeoning “hippie scene” that was, at the time, centered mostly in San Francisco, California. That weekend gave rise to such unmistakable talents like Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, and the Grateful Dead. The original Monterey Pop Festival also introduced international acts to American audiences for the first time, including The Who and Ravi Shankar.
In keeping true to the spirit of the original festival, Shankar’s daughter Norah Jones was among the dozens of acts scheduled to take the stage at this anniversary celebration of Monterey Pop. Other modern acts included Gary Clark, Jr., Regina Spektor, Jack Johnson, the North Mississippi Allstars, and many more. Some of the performers returning to the stage from the original Monterey Pop Festival included Eric Burdon and The Animals, Booker T. Stax Revue, and the Grateful Dead’s bassist Phil Lesh with The Terrapin Family Band.
For Monterey organizer Lou Adler, this weekend’s festival was like stepping back in time through the past 50 years. He sees this anniversary event as a way to honor the spirit of the music, the people, and the movement of those times. The similarities between the counter-culture of the 1960s and today’s political divisions also holds that feeling of nostalgia for Adler.
“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,” Adler said before the anniversary event kicked off.
Today, music lovers of all genres can find a festival to suit their tastes fairly close to home no matter where they live. But, for Lou Adler, nothing will ever compare to those three magical days that were the original Monterey Pop Festival.
[Featured Image by Eric Risberg/AP Images]