Monterey Pop Festival Poster

1967 Monterey Pop Festival

"Music, Love and Flowers"

Tom Wilkes was an award-winning Creative Director, Art Director, Designer, Illustrator, Writer, Photographer and Producer-Director. He was the art director for the Monterey Pop Festival, A&M Records, ABC Records, The Human Dolphin Foundation and has also served as a partner in Camouflage Productions. Wilkes was also responsible for scores of award winning designs including a Grammy for his 1973 "Tommy" album package. He created hundreds of hit record covers, posters, logos, books, trade ads and illustrations. Wilkes passed away last year at 69 years old leaving a legacy of great artwork that was the backbone of rock music. This is how he described the Monterey Pop Festival:

"Once upon a time there was a rebellion, a revolution against the status quo. The youth of America were sick and tired of the Viet Nam war, racism and the endless political whitewash in the media. Out of this anger and unrest came the world's first Pop Music Festival.

The Monterey International Pop Festival was about music, flower children, and the celebration of life. The event was a protest manifesting in rock'n roll music, long hair, strange dress, drugs and free love. It was thrust in the face of what was then referred to as "The Establishment".

The Monterey Pop Festival was the main event of 1967's "Summer of Love" and one of contemporary rock's defining moments. This peaceful revolution was expressed through a universal language of music, poetry, the graphic arts and new lifestyles. The lyrics of popular songs reflected the feelings of the movement. Monterey Pop was a gathering of the tribes to celebrate the dawn of a new age and bring about a positive change in existing politics, ideals and institutions."

Most people know of this festival as the American debut of Jimi Hendrix and when he lit his guitar on fire. It was also where the Who had to open for Hendrix and Janis Joplin became internationally known. The festival was put on and featured the end of The Mamas and Papas and the beginning of Jefferson Airplane, Country Joe and the Fish, and the psychedelic sound to come.

The Monterey Pop festival happened to be where Otis Redding stole the show and put soul into the soon to be named “hippies” (young people who sprung from the hipsters and folkies of SF’s early free speech movement). Redding died less than six months later, but there is also a great Otis Redding concert poster from The Fillmore when he made his first debut in San Francisco in 1966 in the Tweed show as well. That poster was done by the first poster artist who took this advertising vehicle into 5th gear, Wes Wilson.

NPR did a special about the Monterey Pop Festival 40 year CLICK HERE TO LISTEN to the episode.

The Monterey Pop Festival, 40 Years Later

June 14, 2007 - Forty years ago this week, at the dawn of what would become known as the Summer of Love, a musical experiment unfolded in Monterey, Calif.

The Monterey International Pop Festival, which preceded Woodstock by two years, brought together a diverse group of big-name acts including the Mamas and the Papas and Jefferson Airplane as well as some then-unknown performers, notably Janis Joplin and Jimi Hendrix.

The 1967 event was organized by Lou Adler and the late John Phillips of the Mamas and the Papas and it was caught on film by documentary filmmaker D.A. Pennebaker. Adler and singer Michelle Phillips look back at the event.

"Some of the greatest performances of all time happened at Monterey," Adler tells Renee Montagne.

Michelle Phillips, a member of the Mamas and the Papas, remembers how Hendrix amazed the crowd — and fellow artists — with his jaw-dropping performance, playing his guitar on his back, behind his back, lying down and setting the instrument on fire.

"I had never seen anything like it," Phillips says. "And I didn't understand that it was kind of theater. I was used to people singing and harmonizing and taking care of their instruments. It was shocking for me to see this kind of behavior on stage."

The festival also exposed soul great Otis Redding to a new, primarily white audience, whom he called "the love crowd," Phillips says.

"A whole new audience opened up to him," she says.

Redding was killed in a plane crash just months after that performance. A few, short years later, Hendrix and Joplin died within weeks of each other. Their performances at the Monterey Festival have become part of music legend.

Forty years ago this week, at the dawn of what would become known as the Summer of Love, a musical experiment unfolded in Monterey, Calif.