Harvey and Kenneth Kubernik's
lavish new document of the Monterey International Pop Festival, A Perfect Haze,
brings to life in word and image the most significant festival in rock 'n' roll history.
Epitomizing the Summer of Love, Monterey brought together Grateful Dead, Jimi Hendrix, Jefferson Airplane, Janis Joplin, The Mamas and the Papas, Otis Redding, Ravi Shankar, Simon and Garfunkel, The Who, and many many others for three days of musical and cultural magic June 16-18, 1967.
The Kubernik's recreate the setting and the vibe with a thousand telling details and interviews with virtually everyone and their mothers associated with the show (other than the dear departed) including show producers Lou Adler and John Phillips; Michelle Phillips; Pete Townshend; Roger Daltrey; Bob Weir; Ravi Shankar; filmmaker D.A. Pennebaker; Derek Taylor; Andrew Loog Oldham; Steve Cropper; Booker T. Jones; photographers Henry Diltz, Elaine Mayes, and Nurit Wilde; and our very own Al Kooper
, who was a stage manager for the event as well as a performer.
The book is stuffed with candid and official photographs of the people, places, posters, telegrams, legal documents, press releases, and performances that further bring the legend alive. Also included is a fascinating run-down and analysis of every act that performed over the three days, including lists of all performing personnel and songs played.
I discussed Monterey and his wondrous book with Harvey Kubernik via email.
EO: What is the main source of your personal interest in Monterey International Pop Festival?
Harvey Kubernik: In 1967 I heard about the event on the local AM
and FM radio stations in Los Angeles. The Monterey festival was 400 miles
Elliot Mintz on KPFK-FM was giving reports
all the time as well as DJ's on KRLA-AM. Phil Proctor of the Firesign Theater was giving news on the airwaves
from the gathering.
I was well underage and my mother said, "When
you are age 18 and graduate from high school you can go to any music
festival you want."
I wasn't bummed out, just made me want to see all
these acts in 1968 and '69 when they performed in town. The weekend I
graduated high school I saw The Jimi Hendrix Experience at a local festival in
Devonshire Downs along with Spirit, The Edwin Hawkins Singers, Ike & Tina
Turner and Joe Cocker.
I started organically collecting items
from Monterey and attended the 1969 movie premiere of Monterey Pop
in Beverly Hills at the Fine Arts Theater. I went to multiple
screenings around my after-high school day job. My brother
Ken, who co-authored the book with me checked out the movie a
bunch of times, too. The movie theater was 25 yards up the street
from where our father worked on Wilshire Blvd.
How significant was the move to nonprofit event?
HK: More significant than anyone will ever realize,
except for maybe producer Lou Adler. Filmmaker D.A. Pennebaker in the book
told me he knew Lou and co-producer John Phillips were hatching an interesting
plan when they took the money off the table. As far as the ramifications
of Monterey staged as a non-profit event, all I really
have to do is point to the ongoing Monterey International Pop Festival Foundation, a
music-themed charity endeavor that is in year 44 of operation, and has
helped so many people.
Sometime in the early 1980s when I
didn't have health insurance and had a real bad sore throat, I went
to The Los Angeles Free Clinic for some antibiotics. I noticed there was a wing of the building that was made possible
from support from The Monterey International Pop Festival Foundation. This
was never lost on me. That place and the San Francisco Free Clinic in 1967 or
early '68, right after the concerts, received some of the first grants from the proceeds.
Was this the greatest concert ever?
HK: Possibly. Probably. Depends on what the music
does to you in a live setting. However, monitor the 32 acts at Monterey
over three days that were booked. And then factor in
the global platform and subsequent media coverage
they received from appearing. Outdoor music festival culture was never
the same. And the records you heard on the FM dial and then bought for your
own record collection were different than the week before.
Please compare and contrast with Woodstock.
HK: Can't really compare or contrast. Monterey was a
non-profit adventure. Woodstock was conceived as a way to make a profit. A
whole different mindset and karma is attached to Monterey. One was
planned in West Hollywood and executed in Northern California. The other
happened in New York.
And one of the main investors, producers, of
Woodstock saw the movie Monterey Pop and decided to help bankroll Woodstock.
Chip Monck did the lights and was heavily involved in the stage design at both
venues. At least six of the bands who debuted or performed at Monterey two
years later played at Woodstock.
Everything starts in the
Only in 2007, after speaking with a booking agent who helped
package the Newport '69 in Devonshire Downs festival, two months
before Woodstock -- maybe 30,000-40,000 people -- did he tell me he earlier booked
a few of the acts for Monterey in 1967. In an interview he discussed how
so many agents and managers saw what Lou and John did putting on a non-profit
show for an entire weekend, and they all got together and wanted to put
something to make a profit.
What is the quintessential MIPF performance? Did anyone steal the
: When I was a teenager I always thought the Jimi
Hendrix Experience was it. Mind blowing. Then, I sort of started to feel Janis
Joplin with Big Brother & The Holding Company stole the show.
Then over a 25 year period I began to vibe the scene-stealer was
Otis Redding with Booker T. & The MGs, and the horn section. This century
Ravi Shankar is now emerging as the quintessential performance. Maybe because he brought the East to the West that afternoon. Ken and I just
saw him in late-September in L.A. give a recital at age 91.
On the most recent
DVD I encourage anyone to go watch Laura Nyro sing "Poverty Train."Would MIPF have made Beach Boys cooler or would they have made it less
HK: Yes. It would have been even better and way
cooler if they played. They were asked and initially on all the
advertising. Remember, context is king. If they had gigged, their
repertoire would have been pretty much tunes from Pet Sounds and also
including selections from the haulted or "landlocked" SMiLE, it
would have really positioned them deeper into the emerging FM radio world and
I will add, and this is something D.A.
Pennebaker told me although it might not be totally
accurate, but he has a great memory: he believes the sound
board mix he employed for his movie Monterey Pop was mixed by Lou Adler
and John Phillips on an eight-track machine that Brian Wilson owned at the time.
So, Brian was involved in some technical or spiritual aspect of the
festival's audio results. I asked Brian but he could not remember. But he
always had the latest sound system around town, even an eight-track in 1966.
How did LA vs SF play out?
HK: It's pretty much documented in the book. The
"Hollywood" people, the bands and their commercial reality weirded out a
lot of the closed-minded Bay area folks. Believe me, most of them wanted
to have hits on the AM radio dial. From the bands to the crowd members. If it
wasn't for the production acumen of Adler and Phillips and their
attention to detail in advance of the dates - can you imagine any other
team trying to do this sort of event in a six week period?
Needless to say, all these San Francisco
bands and their managers at the time, right after Monterey signed
with Hollywood and Southern California-based record labels and many of
these anti-Hollywood musicians ended up recording their debut LP's and
other albums on Sunset Blvd. at studios like RCA.
How do you think Jefferson
Airplane's Surrealistic Pillow would sound if not tracked and mixed in
What are the significant technical achievements?
HK: Certainly the sound system Adler and the staff
made possible at Monterey helped the artists and the audience. I'm sure
advances were made for outdoor events that evolved from what was initiated at
Monterey in logistics involving sound delivery, monitors, speakers, travel and food arrangements.
Plus, Chip Monck had to invent so many
things subject specific to the sound and lighting collaboration. And building
a vehicle for sound and light to travel. Until then, many bands and
performers had little amps, or played through a house PA or a sound
system provided by the show promoter.
In 1971, Chip Monck did
the lights for George Harrison & Friends and The Concert For Bangla
Desh. Another non-profit event that still helps out the world today.
Sonically and technically, Monterey in
1967 changed the game. And we all get to benefit from it. From
Newport '69 at Devonshire Downs in the Northridge area of Southern Califoirnia
held in June 1969, to the yearly Coachella festival in
Was MIPF a "moment"? Was it a beginning or an end? What was the spirit of
HK: It was a moment but that moment continues. From the charity
foundation to writers and music lovers like myself who were and still informed
by some of the ideals and concepts gleaned from Monterey. Adding to the music
and recordings millions of people first experienced as a direct result of
what was presented that June 1967 weekend in Monterey.
Al Kooper, who was the assistant stage manager and also played a set at
Monterey, made a couple of musical connections in and around his Monterey
world that helped him when he formed Blood, Sweat & Tears. Go listen to
that debut album.
Things were never the same after that June festival
ended. The recording artists began to get more control of their
artwork and recordings. I'm sure established record label advances went up for
new artists. And concert fees probably were higher in 1968 from 1967, primarily owing to what Monterey put in motion. Then factor in record label
executives, like Clive Davis and Joe Smith, who inked bands from
seeing them for the first time live.
Things changed quickly. By 1968 all sorts of moments
happened that were not what was on display or captured on film at
Monterey. Fashion always moves and the music always moves,
Steve Cropper told me he was real pleased, now looking back, and
glad, that Monterey took place in 1967. Because in April '68 in Memphis,
his regional horror was a new reality with the murder of Martin Luther
King, Jr. Then in Los Angeles with the murder of Robert F. Kennedy.
The thing is, Monterey never ended. Even Lou mentioned to me since
he deals daily with the Monterey Foundation and licensing of items
that aid musicians and people, "It's like managing an act."
I see the spirit of Monterey continuing. All the time. This book brings
it to a whole new level, augmenting the existing CD soundtracks and the DVD's
culled from the original festival.
With all the CD reissues of many of the acts that played at
Monterey, coupled with new mono versions of the Mamas and the
Papas debut LP in release again, new ears discovering Moby
Grape, the increase in people buying vinyl, and all the constant interest
around this book and the still glowing Summer of Love mentality,
I keep believing it still has a potent spirit. It has become
cross-generational. Parents and their kids buying all the products associated
with this cosmic and very real deal era will always keep going.