Keith Altham Planes West to Cover America’s Monterey Pop Festival and Cables This Day-By-Day Report

WE DROVE to London Airport in Animal manager Mike Jeffery’s Rolls-Royce while he dictated a few last minute instructions to assistant Tony Garland — “Ring Brian Jones and ask him if I can have my record player and LPs back.” We picked up Jimi Hendrix and manager Chas Chandler at their flat and continued to the Airport where Jimi ransacked the book stalls for a science fiction novel.

The strange thing about Jimi is that everyone looks at his incredible appearance with a mixture of surprise and amusement, but those who take the trouble to say “Hello” — like the elderly gentleman at the Passport Control — find him charming and conversational.

Jimi makes friends quicker than most people make enemies. The Air Hostess on the TWA jet we took was apparently delighted with her unusual charge and spent some time sitting next to him and talking about beat groups.

On the plane over, the main source of amusement was the various taped music channels played through earphones, and every so often Jimi would throw up an assortment of fingers indicating a new delight on a particular channel.

He seemed to get a perverse enjoyment from Bing Crosby, Al Jolson and Jimmy Durante. But more genuine was his interest in the Bach tapes.

Arriving at Kennedy Airport we were met by a long sleek black Cadillac and station WMCA on the car radio featured Spencer Davis extolling the merits of milk shakes.

Without pausing to check in at the Buckingham Hotel, Jimi shot down to the Colony record centre, just off Broadway, and bought half a dozen LPs, by people like the Doors and the Mothers of Invention.

He must have music in his room the whole time.

Like Soho

In the evening we visited Jimi’s old stamping ground, the Village, which looks rather like Soho with all the roofs off and the people spilling out into the open.

Jimi pointed out the Club Wha? where he used to gig with people like Dylan.

We ate at a restaurant called the Tin Angel, met a couple of the Mothers, and moved on to the A Go Go club where we stumbled on what, as far as I’m concerned, was a phenomenon.

The man concerned is a folk singer called Ritchie Havens. He sings with every nerve, emotion and feeling in his body until the sweat runs down his dark face and forms drops which glisten on the edge of his beard.

He sings of love and war and hate. Occasionally he breaks into light conversation with the audience, of things that matter.

“I see they’ve stopped that war in the Middle East — I’d like to know what we have to do to stop the one in Vietnam.”

Someone in the audience suggested: “Send over 12 Israeli officers!”

New York rave with Jimi, Eric

Tuesday

Some people believe that Ritchie may one day rival Dylan. “He’s worth listening to hard,” said Jimi, and I heartily endorse that.

Walking around on the outskirts of the village with Jimi dressed in multi coloured floral jacket, white trousers, emerald green scarf and gold medallion embossed with the words “Champion Bird Watcher” we discovered he had obtained the honorary title of “the man most unlikely to get a taxi in New York.”

I’d like to say a word about New York taxi drivers, but I can’t think of one rude enough.

Wednesday

TODAY BROUGHT Eric Burdon and a trip up the river Hudson in the evening with millionaire Herring Howe — a friend of Chas — in his yacht — the Egg and Us. Also aboard was the Young Rascals drummer — Dino Danelli.

Somewhere along the festivities we lost Eric who reappeared around 6 am informing us he had been to “Hell’s Kitchen” — one of the more notorious New York areas.

In spite of the lack of success of ‘When I Was Young’ in England (it reached No. 15 in the U.S. charts) Eric firmly believes it was his best record.

“I’ve put the old blues scene right behind me,” he told me.

Thursday

WE LEFT for San Francisco and our departure was marked by one of those spectacular last minute appearances by manager Mike Jeffery who appears dramatically everywhere at the last minute and disappears just as dramatically.

Jimi had a little sulk when he discovered I had left his Mad magazine in my room at the hotel, but he got over it.

We stayed overnight in San Francisco and early next morning set out to find an “indestructible” guitar for Jimi.

“I need a Fender” explained Jimi. “It gets used pretty hard in the act and they are the only make which will stand up to it.”

We failed to get the model Jimi wanted but somehow he later acquired a guitar in Monterey. It was the wrong colour but he remedied that by spraying it white and drawing swirling designs all over it with a felt pen.

We arrived on Friday morning at the motel — flying out from San Francisco. Also staying here is Dylan’s manager Al Grossman who assures us that Bob is fully recovered from his accident and we can expect a new single soon.

The motel has become a kind of Festival Circus in the last few days with Animals on motorbikes — Vic Briggs has acquired a monstrous great car which he just leaves parked outside his room and never drives.

Barry Jenkins keeps pointing his camera at anything that moves and Noel Redding and Mitch Mitchell from the Experience plunge in and out of the pool with hot and cold running girls in tow.

Friday’s opening show sets success seat

AFTER ONLY one day of the first Monterey Pop Music Festival organised by musical giants — Andrew Oldham, Lou Adler, John Philips and assisted by that genteel PR Derek Taylor it is quite obvious that they have an enormous success.

Those not appearing on the show last night but present in various guises were Micky Dolenz dressed as a Red Indian chief, Byrd Dave Crosby as a cowboy, Brian Jones in a mind shattering gold lame coat festooned with beads, crystal swastika and lace (he looks like a kind of unofficial King of the Festival) and Peter Tork who came most emphatically as Peter Tork.

Jones — gliding ethereally about among the fir trees on the picturesque fair grounds decorated with huge coloured balloons, lights, fruit stalls and booths selling all kinds of “beautiful” things told me: —

“I don’t think the Beatles will be coming now — I rang Brian Epstein last night and he says they are recording over the weekend.

“Just before we came over I played tenor sax on one of the new tracks they have cut and Paul sat in on one of our sessions.

“This is really a great scene here — all the kids are so nice. The people are so polite and just come up and talk to me and say they like the way I’m dressed.”

In spite of Brian’s prophecy everyone is hoping the Beatles will arrive, most especially Micky Dolenz who told me how much he loved the Sgt. Pepper album.

By 9.00 on the opening night there were about 8,000 official spectators and 2,000 unofficial in the auditorium.

Milling around the grounds and booths outside were approximately another 10,000 and those who could not even get into the grounds must have numbered 20,000.

The whole atmosphere is one of gay Carnival where everyone wears a bright coloured scarf — gay hats or brilliant swirling patterns on their dresses.

John Philips officially announced the Festival open at 9.15 and the Association took the stage.

The PA equipment here sounds like an eight-track system, and is about the best I’ve ever heard. The Association provided some slick patter and good harmonies with numbers like ‘Cherish’, ‘Windy’ and ‘Along Came Mary’.

The Paupers who followed them have a fantastic bass player and some interesting sounds — they shot to fame here while playing gigs with the Jefferson Airplane.

The first of the English representatives was Beverly — a good friend of Donovan and Simon and Garfunkel. She sang prettily and was well received.

Peter Tork made a surprise appearance to introduce Lou Rawls a big blues artist here whom he knew from his old days playing in the Village.

He was well appreciated by the rhythm and blues enthusiasts and had one couple grooving in the stage pit to something I’m told is a new dance — the Funky Broadway !

Frankly, I did not expect to enjoy the new Eric Burdon with the new Animals — I was too fond of the old one — but it was a revelation!

With a group called the Headlights doing unbelievable psychedelic lighting effects behind them, which pulsated to their music, they were rapturously received.

Out here on the West Coast Burdon is regarded as the last of the British “big ones” from the big boom, period — apart from the Beatles that is.

His great strength is that he believes devotedly in his new progressive music with just the sincerity which he once felt for the blues scene.

His is a musically honest group and as one member of the audience said to me, “He’s getting to the truth and that’s what I’m here for.”

Simon and Garfunkel poured beautiful sounds into the night like ‘For Emily Whenever I Find Her’ and ‘Homeward Bound’ — they deserve far greater recognition in Britain.

Also on the show was Johnny Rivers with a beard!

Saturday

THE SECOND act of “Music Love and Flowers” was performed today and warm rain is falling intermittently upon these fair grounds where blues and jazz bands are blowing electric feelings out upon the Californian air to the enthusiastic thousands.

Most impressive of the bands playing this afternoon were Paul Butterfield —the Electric Flag led by breakaway “Butterfield” guitarist Mike Bloomfield on lead guitar and Big Brother and the Holding Co.

The latter boasts a vocalist who sounds like a female Eric Burdon. This is no mean feat when you realise the girl moves and sounds like the old Eric Burdon but manages to retain her femininity. Quite a girl is Janis Joplin.

By evening the Festival officials were looking a trifle worn and Derek Taylor (who but an Englishman could have handled the American Press with such a mixture of literate charm and abuse) had resorted to a sign in his office window reading “I cannot relate to your problem” and left for other parts.

The performance began well with Booker T and the MGs presenting some inspired organ material. Then we got the Byrds.

Pleasant were the sounds of ‘My Back Pages’ and ‘Eight Miles High’.

The Jefferson Airplane explained convincingly with music why they are one of the most important West Coast groups to recently emerge. Soft and lovely sounds from vocalist Gracie Slick. Otis Redding topped the bill and deservedly so — he tore the stadium apart with a power packed delivery of numbers like ‘I’ve Been Loving You Too Long’, ‘Satisfaction’ and ‘Try A Little Tenderness’.

Sunday

THE HIGHLIGHT of the Sunday afternoon performance was a “music-arathon” by sitarist Ravi Shankar. A three hour session of patterns in sound in which at no time did the Master’s fingers leave his mind!

No wonder astute guitarists like George Harrison are trying to fathom the musical depths of this incredible musician.

Tom Smothers of the Smothers Brothers compered the evening show in brilliant deadpan humour. The opening act were the Blues Project who have plenty of good jazz blues sounds and an excellent flute.

Peter Tork made another of his appearances as guest compere to introduce the Buffalo Springfield. This group has recently mislaid a member and had Dave Crosby of the Byrds deputising on guitar. The Springfields are happy sounding, original and deserve greater recognition — I hope they get it.

Colourful

Eric Burdon made the announcement for the Who who appeared resplendent upon the stage with Roger Daltrey wearing a pink silk poncho, Keith Moon in red mandarin jacket, Peter Townshend in lace ruffs and John Entwistle in yellow and red shirt.

Burdon had promised the audience that this group would destroy them in more ways than one and they proved it.

Once into their interpretation of Eddie Cochran’s ‘Summertime’ Pete Townshend took on the appearance of a berserk British aristocrat and began the guitar gymnastics.

‘Pictures Of Lily’ woke up the whole audience to the fact that this was a new British group with something of their own to offer.

Into ‘Happy Jack’ their first big U.S. smash but surprisingly an even bigger reception for ‘My Generation’ sung with vocal dexterity by Mr. D-d-d-daltrey.

Pete Townshend’s mini pop opera was also featured and the finale was a beautiful explosion of amps, guitars and microphones.

Keith Moon managed to kick another drum set to pieces — Pete destroyed his guitar by smashing it on the stage and John knocked a mike or two over as a concession. Smoke poured from the amplifiers and the whole auditorium rose to its feet in amazement — then the applause broke out. It won’t take long far the word to go round about this episode and then everyone will know Who’s Who in the U.S.

Brian Jones came on stage to introduce the Jimi Hendrix Experience. Hendrix then proceeded to completely shatter everyone within “digging” distance. The areas around the backstage areas filled up faster with musicians than for any other act. For a man yet to have a big record in the U.S. Jimi created a fantastic impression.

His biggest successes were ‘Foxy Lady’, ‘Rolling Stone’, ‘Purple Haze’ and ‘Hey Joe’ but the show-stopper was ‘Wild Thing’.

Excitement

What an extraordinary job he makes of this number. There was a generated excitement right through every bar of this last number and having extracted the last ounce of life from his instrument Jimi did the human thing and had it exterminated.

This he managed a la Who by smashing the guitar and flinging, it to the audience.

It is fitting tribute to the Mamas and Papas that not only could they follow “that” but they could top it. In five years of watching top pop groups I have never been so impressed by four people.

Papa John in his long velvet cloak bejewelled with stars looks like a genial wizard — Mama Cass is the kindly fat fairy — Papa Denny a court jester and Mama Michelle the Princess.

It is impossible to do full justice to the sight of and sounds of this group in print — seeing and hearing is believing and even then it is difficult to believe the beautiful harmonies on numbers like ‘The Joke’s On You’ and ‘Spanish Harlem’.

To really understand what they were singing about on ‘California Dreaming’ you have to be here or have been here.

“It is to this number,” Mama Cass assured us, “that we attribute our enormous wealth.”

Cass referred to her “ex-amour” John Lennon, who liked the number she was about to sing — ‘I Call Your Name’. Although one almost expected a leap on stage in a puff of smoke from the Devil-Beatle we were disappointed. No Beatles at Monterey but many beautiful songs from the Mamas and Papas from ‘Monday, Monday’ to the last rousing choruses of ‘Dancing In The Street’.

The Festival is now over — a good time was had by all.

© Keith AlthamNew Musical Express, 24 June 1967

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