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Past Films

Monterey Pop (1968)

  • Starring: Art Garfunkel, Grace Slick, Otis Redding, Jimi Hendrix, Ravi Shankar, Janis Joplin
  • Director(s): D.A. Pennebaker, Chris Hegedus
  • Genre(s): Documentary, History, Musical & Performing Arts
  • Rating: NR
  • Running Time: 78 min.

New York City, in the fall of 1966, Alan Pariser had an idea for the greatest concert in the history of rock and roll. As a counter-concert to the annual Monterey Jazz Festival, Pariser, an L.A. scene maker and sometime concert promoter, along with John Philips (leader of the Mamas and the Papas) and Lou Adler (the president of Dunhill Records), drummed up the idea of a concert unlike any other. With a banner declaring it a, celebration of music, love and flowers, the forerunner to Woodstock was born. Like Woodstock, Monterey Pop was devised as a non-profit event, complete with a board of goverors that included Mick Jagger, Paul McCartney, Paul Simon, Donovan, Brian Wilson and Smokey Robinson. For the first time, pop stars themselves were involved in the organization of a rock event. As a result, some of the biggest names in rock and roll were gladly on hand for the concert: the Grateful Dead, the Mamas and the Papas, Jefferson Airplane, Booker T. and the MGs, to name a few…

On a beautiful June weekend in 1967, at the beginning of the Summer of Love, the first Monterey International Pop Festival roared forward, capturing a decade’s spirit and ushering in a new era of rock and roll. Monterey featured career-making performances by Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, and Otis Redding, but they were just a few among a wildly diverse cast that included Simon and Garfunkel, the Mamas and the Papas, the Who, the Byrds, Hugh Masekela, and the extraordinary Ravi Shankar. With his characteristic vérité style, D. A. Pennebaker captured it all, immortalizing moments that have become legend: Pete Townshend destroying his guitar, Jimi Hendrix burning his.

"It is possible that the way to a new kind of musical -- using some of the talent and energy of what is still the most lively contemporary medium -- may begin with just this kind of musical performance documentary."
- Renata Adler, New York Times
"The film possesses a quality of nostalgia beyond the fact that it was made way back in 1967."
- Don Druker, Chicago Reader
"It captures their magic with a freewheeling spontaneity that became a model for later pop-music movies. "
- David Sterritt, Christian Science Monitor
"Quite simply one of the best rock concert films ever (distilling the 1967 International Pop Festival at Monterey, California), thanks not only to some great performances (towards the end, with Joplin, Redding, Hendrix, things really start cooking), but also to the way it sums up the spirit of the times (the Summer of Love) while never sentimentalising. Hang on to the end, however, when a small Indian man appears nursing a sitar: Ravi Shankar's exhilarating twenty-minute finale is the best thing in the entire movie."
- GA, Time Out