John Lennon and Paul McCartney create artwork for the Monterey Festival

February 1967

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In February 1967, John Lennon and Paul McCartney created a hand-drawn poster artwork, which was used to help promote the Monterey International Pop Festival, a star-studded three-day concert event that took place in June 1967.

From Bonhams : The legendary ‘Peace To Monterey’ artwork by the Beatles 1967, 2008:

In 1966, Tom Wilkes, the vendor of this lot, was approached by the original producers of the Monterey International Pop Festival, Benny Shapiro and Alan Pariser, to be the event’s art director. Wilkes’s job was to design and produce all of the graphic material for the event, including the logo, stationery, posters, folders, bumper stickers, trade ads and the programme. Another of the festival’s founders was Derek Taylor, who had previously worked as PR for the Beatles and had been based in Hollywood for several years. Through this connection, Wilkes had the idea of asking the Beatles to take out a full-page ad in the programme.

In February 1967, during recording sessions for what would become the ‘Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band’ album, the group supplied this collectively-produced piece of artwork as copy for their ad, and paid approximately $1500 for its inclusion. This was the first ad placed in the programme, proving a prestigious model to follow and further advertising was then readily forthcoming. In a filmed interview in 1981, Terry Doran, friend and business colleague of the Beatles, recalled being present when the artwork was executed.

In what was to become known as ‘The Summer of Love’ the Monterey Festival, held 16th, 17th, 18th June, was the first widely-promoted rock festival, although the staging of large-scale outdoor music events was not new – jazz, folk and blues festivals had been held regularly for many years at the Monterey County Fairgrounds and other venues. The festival largely established the framework for rock festivals to come, most notably Woodstock, held two years later. Despite the large attendance at Monterey – more than 200,000 over the three days – the festival was remarkable for many things, not least the lack of violence, injuries (or deaths) and arrests. The organisers set out to provide high quality facilities for both performers and audience and established standards that few (if any) subsequent festivals ever matched.

All but one of the performers appeared free of charge, the audience paying a nominal $1 entrance fee. Those attending witnessed some now-legendary performances, none more so than that of Jimi Hendrix. Unknown in his homeland previously, Jimi was included on the bill upon the recommendation of Paul McCartney. Jimi’s breathtaking playing and destruction of his guitar took the crowd by storm and established his reputation overnight. The Who, Janis Joplin and Otis Redding also all put in their first major US appearances over the weekend.

The overall lineup was a remarkable list of names and the festival was the first significant such event to bring together acts from the different regional centres of music in the US. Artists not already mentioned included Simon & Garfunkel, Canned Heat, Quicksilver Messenger Service, Byrds, Jefferson Airplane, Grateful Dead and the Mama’s and Papa’s.

Tom Wilkes is a designer, illustrator, writer and photographer. During his long career he has designed many now-famous album covers, for artists including the Beatles, George Harrison, Ringo Starr, the Rolling Stones, Janis Joplin and Neil Young. His 1973 ‘Tommy ‘ album package won him a Grammy.

From Bonhams : The legendary ‘Peace To Monterey’ artwork by the Beatles 1967, – The legendary ‘Peace To Monterey’ artwork by the Beatles 1967, in coloured pencils, ink and ballpoint, text in Paul’s hand reading, Peace To Monterey From Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band Loving You it happened in monterey A Long Time Ago Sincerely John, Paul, George and Harold. I Love You, and in John’s hand, congratulations elvis. say hello to uncle stan. how are you bob., mounted and framed, 20 x 32.5cm (7¾ x 11¾in)

From BEATLES | “Peace To Monterey” Pop Festival Original Artwork (

This is original hand-drawn poster artwork by John Lennon and Paul McCartney. The poster was used to help promote the Monterey Pop Festival, a star-studded three-day concert event that took place June 16-18, 1967 at the Monterey County Fairgrounds in Monterey, California.

The festival was planned and put together by record producer & manager Lou Adler, “Papa” John Phillips (of The Mamas and The Papas), manager Alan Pariser, promoter Benny Shapiro, and Beatles’ former publicist and friend Derek Taylor. Although The Beatles were invited to play at Monterey, they declined, having willfully retired from public concert appearances almost a year earlier in August of 1966. In spite of the fact that their good friend Taylor was heavily involved with the project the band could not be persuaded to attend. Instead, Paul McCartney recommended they book Jimi Hendrix and The Who. In addition to these now historic performances, the festival also showcased wall-to-wall talent including Janis Joplin, The Mamas and The Papas, Jefferson Airplane, and Otis Redding. Jimi Hendrix’s appearance itself was significant because it marked the first time at a U.S. gig where he used the name “Jimi Hendrix,” and not “Jimmy James.” It is widely acknowledged that the Monterey Pop Festival kicked off the “Summer Of Love,” as it commenced exactly two weeks to the day after the release of The Beatles’ masterpiece album Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, which itself helped set the mood for this very colorful period in 1960s popular history.

Artist, illustrator and photographer Tom Wilkes was hired to be the art director for the Monterey Pop Festival. One of his many responsibilities was to provide the design and layout of the program for the festival. When it was confirmed in February of 1967 that The Beatles would not perform, Wilkes asked Derek Taylor to see if they would be kind enough to contribute something which he could use in the program. Wilkes received this incredible poster in return, which was reproduced as a message to festival goers from The Beatles. The artwork appears on page 16 of the 80 page full-color festival program.

Although previously attributed to all four members of The Beatles, in reality this poster was a collaboration between only Lennon and McCartney. Using colored pencils, felt tip marker and ballpoint pen, both jointly wrote from top to bottom down the center: “PEACE TO monterey FROM SGT. PEPPERS LONELY HEARTS CLUB BAND LOVING YO you it happened in Monterey A LONG TIME AGO I LOVE YOU.” The line “it happened in Monterey A LONG TIME AGO” appears in the popular 1930 song “It Happened In Monterey,” later popularized by Frank Sinatra in 1956. Although both Lennon and McCartney are responsible for the artwork, it was Paul who signed on behalf of all The Beatles “Sincerely John, Paul, George and Harold.” John wrote vertically along the left side “congratulations elvis. say hello to uncle stan. how are you bob.”

Below the “Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club” lines, John also wrote the word “Beatles”, followed by a heart with an arrow through it, and the word “you.” The obvious message there being “Beatles love you.” John is also primarily responsible for the intricate psychedelic artwork on the right side of the poster. That area features one large head evocative of the Hindu god Krishna. Contained within that drawing — among many other things — are the heads of the four Beatles with green faces and their new mustached look.

There are two pairs of round faces drawn along the top. One pair is more impressionistic and the other pair is more literal, but all 4 faces have holes punched through the eyes. Which of the two – Lennon or McCartney – did that is uncertain but it was clearly not done after the poster was used in the program, as that is how it appears there.

This amazing original piece of art has been with the family of Tom Wilkes until now. Measuring 7 ¾” x 12 ¾” and well preserved, this fabled Lennon and McCartney artwork is a sight to behold in person. The colors really pop! There are four minor smudge spots on bottom half of left edge, but otherwise it is in beautiful condition. The history behind the piece and the time period in which it was done captured the zeitgeist of 1960s popular culture, when “peace and love” was the overwhelmingly positive message of the day.

Includes Letter of Authenticity from Frank Caiazzo, the world’s foremost Beatles signature expert. Also includes Rockaway Records Letter of Authenticity.

Last updated on May 1, 2024

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