The Summer of Love

The Monterey Pop Festival was a concert event that occurred from June 16 to June 18, 1967, at the Monterey County Fairgrounds in Monterey, California. It embodied the theme of California as a central point for the counterculture. It is seen as the beginnings of the “Summer of Love” which occurred that same summer in San Francisco. The festival consisted of the first American appearances of many groups and artists who would become icons in the world of rock and roll music as well as some others who were already somewhat established. It is also seen as the inspiration for future music festivals such as Woodstock.

Jimi Hendrix with John Entwistle, Monterey, CA 1967 © Henry Diltz, 1967

Some of the artists who performed at Monterey include Big Brother and the Holding Company featuring Janis Joplin, Otis Redding, The Who, The Jimi Hendrix Experience, The Grateful Dead, The Mamas and The Papas, Jefferson Airplane, Eric Burdon and the Animals and Ravi Shankar.

Janis Joplin – Monterey Pop Festival (1967) Monterey, California © 2006 Bryan Costales

This summer both the Monterey Pop Festival and the Summer of Love are being remembered and celebrated in San Francisco for the 50th anniversary.

…rock and roll music was just a trend and would go away.

The seed had been planted

The origins of the idea for the Monterey Pop Festival are most interesting. One night, Mama Cass Elliott, John Phillips and Michelle Phillips, all from The Mamas and The Papas, along with Paul McCartney and Lou Adler were discussing the perception that ‘rock and roll’ was still being considered a fad instead of an actual art form. The discussion planted the seeds to what would become the festival along with the fact that The Mamas and The Papas had been asked to headline a concert at Monterey by Alan Pariser. It would be the music festival that would lead to the destruction of the myth that rock and roll music was just a trend and would go away.

Michelle Phillips, Mama Cass Elliot, Denny Doherty and John Phillips. “Mommas and the Poppas” band
Monterey Pop Festival (1967) Monterey, California © 2006 Bryan Costales

On the first day…

of the festival, one of the performing acts was Eric Burdon and The Animals. The group was already well known for songs such as “The House of the Rising Sun” which was a number 1 single in 1964.

Saturday, June 17th, the second day of the festival, revealed the performances of several more artists. One of the performing acts that day was Canned Heat who formed in 1966 but had not truly achieved much success until their first big appearance at Monterey.

Later, as their popularity grew due to the festival, some of their hits included “On the Road Again” and “Going Up the Country”.

On the third and final day…

The Who smashes their equipment at the end of the set during the Monterey Pop Festival

several more artists performed including Buffalo Springfield and the final act The Mamas and The Papas. Buffalo Springfield is very famous for the anti-war song “For What It’s Worth” which was written by Stephen Stills. The single was released in January 1967 and peaked at number 7 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart.

Since the idea for the Monterey Pop Festival developed from The Mamas and The Papas being invited to perform at a concert at Monterey, it was fitting that they were the closing act on the evening of Sunday, June 18th.


Many artists performed at the Monterey Pop Festival and for some, the anthem song of this event, and the counterculture movement that followed, is considered “San Francisco (Be Sure to Wear Flowers in Your Hair)” by Scott McKenzie and written by John Phillips. The song was released in May 1967 and reached number 4 on the Billboard Hot 100.

The Monterey Pop Festival was one of the most influential concert events in the history of rock and roll music. It truly was not just about the music or the artists who performed, but also about the people and the counterculture of the time. The festival was a huge stepping stone towards making rock and roll music not just a trend, but a musical art form. The influence on future festivals, such as Woodstock, cannot be denied.

Some info worth checking out:
The Monterey Pop 1967 Setlist
Monterey Pop Festival 50 years later
The Monterey International Pop Festival