Watch Janis Joplin’s Breakthrough Performance at the Monterey Pop Festival: “One of the Great Concert Performances of all Time” (1967)

“No one to that point had seen a White girl sing the blues like she sang it. And she was a tough Texas girl, she lived real­ly tough, she drank tough, she did drugs, too many and too tough. But as a vocal­ist, her per­for­mance at Mon­terey was also one of the great con­cert per­for­mances of all time.”

That’s famed music and film pro­duc­er Lou Adler talk­ing in 2007 about Janis Joplin and her per­for­mance 40 years before at the Mon­terey Inter­na­tion­al Pop Fes­ti­val. After those three days of music (June 16-June 18, 1967) in the Sum­mer of Love, many of the acts cat­a­pult­ed to fame.

The Who explod­ed state­side, The Jimi Hen­drix Expe­ri­ence essen­tial­ly launched their career from that stage, Ravi Shankar got intro­duced to Amer­i­cans, and Otis Red­ding played to a most­ly white audi­ence for the first time. Lau­ra Nyro and Canned Heat became famous overnight.

And then there was Big Broth­er and the Hold­ing Com­pa­ny, front­ed by a 24 year-old Janis Joplin. Their first album wasn’t due until August, and most of the crowd had not heard of this blues band when they took the stage on Sat­ur­day after­noon, June 17. Five songs lat­er, and fin­ish­ing with “Ball and Chain,” the crowd had gone wild. They knew they had seen some­thing spe­cial.

But D.A. Pen­nebak­er, the doc­u­men­tar­i­an behind Dylan’s Don’t Look Back and Bowie’s “Zig­gy Star­dust” con­cert films, had not filmed the set. In an unprece­dent­ed move, Joplin and band were invit­ed back to recre­ate the set the fol­low­ing evening–the only band to do two sets at the festival–and that is the footage seen above. Joplin’s per­for­mance is just as good, maybe even bet­ter, though the Sun­day per­for­mance does not fea­ture James Gurley’s extend­ed gui­tar solo. That ver­sion can be found here.

Not only did Mon­terey Pop launched sev­er­al careers, it legit­imized the idea that rock music was mature and impor­tant enough to have its own fes­ti­val, just like the worlds of jazz and folk. For orga­niz­ers Adler, along with John Phillips of the Mamas & the Papas, Alan Paris­er, and Bea­t­les pub­li­cist Derek Tay­lor, it was a huge suc­cess. Two years lat­er a lit­tle gath­er­ing called Wood­stock went even fur­ther. And the rest as they say is…whoever’s head­lin­ing Coachel­la this year.

If you enjoy this footage, you will want to pick up a copy of the film, The Com­plete Mon­terey Pop Fes­ti­val, from the Cri­te­ri­on Col­lec­tion.

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Watch Janis Joplin’s Final Inter­view Reborn as an Ani­mat­ed Car­toon

Wood­stock Revis­it­ed in Three Min­utes

Dick Cavett’s Epic Wood­stock Fes­ti­val Show (August, 1969)

Ted Mills is a free­lance writer on the arts who cur­rent­ly hosts the artist inter­view-based FunkZone Pod­cast and is the pro­duc­er of KCR­W’s Curi­ous Coast. You can also fol­low him on Twit­ter at @tedmills, read his oth­er arts writ­ing at and/or watch his films here.

by | Permalink | Comments (0) |

Sup­port Open Cul­ture

We’re hop­ing to rely on our loy­al read­ers rather than errat­ic ads. To sup­port Open Cul­ture’s edu­ca­tion­al mis­sion, please con­sid­er mak­ing a dona­tion. We accept Pay­Pal, Ven­mo (@openculture), Patre­on and Cryp­to! Please find all options here. We thank you!

Leave a Reply

Open Culture was founded by Dan Colman.