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The Monterey Pop Festival, 40 Years Later

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.

Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.