Monterey Pop stars: Lesh, Burdon, Booker T.

Monterey Pop lives. A 50th anniversary revival of the seminal peace-and-love gathering has unveiled its lineup, with Phil Lesh, Eric Burdon and Booker T. topping the bill.

Monterey Pop Festival logoThe event will run June 16-18 at the Monterey County Fairgrounds, site of the original festival that brought stardom to Jimi Hendrix, the Who and Janis Joplin.

Lou Adler, co-producer of the 1967 festival, said, “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, who is in his mid-80s, has some role with the production, also credited to Another Planet Entertainment and Goldenvoice. Adler oversees the nonprofit charitable foundation that distributes royalty money from the original Monterey concert.

The giant Woodstock festival that followed Monterey gave rise to several sequels, one disastrous, but there never has been an attempt to mount a followup to the seminal Northern California pop festival — until now.

The music seems a grab bag of retro and contemporary acts, relatively short on star power, at least compared with mega-festivals put on by Goldenvoice (Coachella, Desert Trip). Fans can’t be blamed for hoping against hope for reunions of Monterey acts the Byrds and Simon & Garfunkle.

Old-schoolers no doubt will be pulling for Grateful Dead alumnus Phil Lesh, who brings his Terrapin Family Band to the 2017 event. The Dead played the original festival, offering an extended psychedelic jam to a crowd still stunned in the wake of the Who’s explosive performance.

Also at the original festival were Eric Burdon and the Animals, who celebrated the festival’s California orientation with a performance of “San Francisco Nights.” Burdon was so moved that he quickly recorded the single “Monterey,” a minor hit celebrating the event via a name-check of its stars.

Booker T.’s Stax Review no doubt will bring to mind the electric crossover performance of Otis Redding, who died shortly after the original festival. Keyboardist Booker T. backed the soul star at the first Monterey. (Stax was Redding’s record label.)

Other performers booked for the half-century bash include Father John Misty, Norah Jones, Regina Spektor, Gary Clark Jr., Jack Johnson, Kurt Vile and the Violators and Jim James of My Morning Jacket.

Unlike performers at the original festival, the 2017 acts will be paid.

Most of Monterey Pop’s original cast has retired, faded from relevance or died. The fallen include Hendrix, Joplin, Redding, half of the Who, co-producer and performer John Phillips of the Mamas and Papas, Mama Cass Elliot, Laura Nyro, Paul Butterfield, Michael Bloomfield, Paul Kantner, Scott McKenzie and Ravi Shankar. (Norah Jones is Shankar’s daughter.)

Their glory days live on, however, thanks to D.A. Pennebaker’s “Monterey Pop” movie, reportedly set for theatrical rerelease this summer.

Organizers of the upcoming festival, fully titled “Monterey International Pop Festival — Celebrates 50 Years,” said: “The goal of this celebration is to memorialize Monterey Pop’s importance, legacy and lasting impact on contemporary culture with live music performances, unique experiential activations, historic memorabilia and art installations.”

Tickets go on sale April 21 at 10 a.m. PST.


  1. I saw the original release of the film in 1968. I hope the re-release will have some new footage, not especially of the bands, but of the various venders and attendees. As a serious poster collector, whenever I watch Monterey Pop or look at the many books written about it; I’m always studying the background to see what posters are showing and what buttons and cloths people are wearing. Those little ephemeral details weren’t important to me back in 68. It was all about the music then, but as a collector of psychedelic/hippie artifacts today, those little details mean a lot.

    I just bought a button advertising The Kaleidoscope club, a short lived rock venue in Southern Cal. that produced some great posters, all of them round. They must have been passing those buttons out at the Monterey Fest. because I’ve seen photos of Janis and Peter Tork both wearing one. I recently acquired Paul Kantner’s souvenir program from the Monterey fest, a real treasure to me. Can’t wait to see Monterey Pop on the big screen again.

    • Fritz, I’m guessing you’ve watched the extras on Criterion’s versions of “Monterey Pop” — two hours of performances including bands that didn’t make it into the original film such as the Byrds and the Butterfield Blues Band. Must-see stuff. Happy hunting.

  2. Yes I did, abel. It was quite a thrill to see that extra stuff soooooo many years after the fact. I had the same thrills not too many years ago when I came across additional Woodstock performances on the expanded director’s cut and an old VHS documentary. I watched Monterey Pop again last night and noticed so many people walking around with cameras. There must be a ton of “never seen” photos and films out there, languishing lost in the attics and basements of old hippies. Last year I bought a Monterey Fest. ticket brochure and the seller emailed me a photo of Paul Kantner sitting at one of the vender booths, nobody even noticing him there. He said the booth belonged to a friend of his who knew Kantner.

  3. Steve Andrews says:

    Great concert! Have it on VCR.

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