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April 09 or 10, 1967

Paul McCartney joins the board of the Monterey International Pop Festival

Last updated on May 10, 2024


  • Location: Los Angeles, USA


Paul McCartney's 1967 US holidays

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Although the recording of the “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” album was unfinished, Paul McCartney decided to take a ten-day break in the United States to surprise his girlfriend Jane Asher on her 21st birthday. The trip, which lasted from April 3 to April 11, 1967, was accompanied by Mal Evans.

On June 9, Paul and Mal travelled from Denver (where they had spent a few days with Jane) to Los Angeles, where they met Derek Taylor, who served as the press officer for the Beatles’ first concert tour of the US in the summer of 1964.

In January, Derek Taylor had been approached to become the publicist for the upcoming Monterey International Pop Festival:

A man called Alan Pariser attended the 1966 Monterey Jazz Festival, which was quite an established event, and, while smoking a marijuana cigarette, considered the possibility of thousands and thousands of pop fans pouring out on the grounds, instead of these rather stuffy jazzophiles in corduroy. [Alan] raised $50,000 of “seed money” to put on a pop festival at the Monterey Fairgrounds in Northern California, to be held sometime during the summer of 1967, now known as the “Summer of Love.”

In January of that mild winter, Alan and his partner, Benny Shapiro, asked me if I would publicize the festival. […] So, together with Alan Pariser and his friend David Wheeler, I set out to seduce the Mamas and the Papas into topping the bill, because they were the biggest act still touring. The Beatles had retired from the road. I think the Rolling Stones couldn’t tour because of a drug problem. So really, the only hot live band that could fill the fairgrounds was the Mamas and the Papas.

During our approaches, John Phillips had the idea of talking to Lou Adler. And somewhere along the line, those two co-opted the show. They said, “We’ll do it, and we’ll do it for nothing, and all the artists will perform for free, thus making it a benefit. But we’re going to take over the running of the show! You can stay as press agent, [Pariser] can stay as a producer [Shapiro was bought out], but from now on it’s our show and we’ll phone up the biggest stars in the world and we’ll get them to Monterey in June.” And they did.

Derek Taylor – From “A Perfect Haze: The Illustrated History of the Monterey International Pop Festival” by Harvey and Kenneth Kubernik, 2011

As reported in the book “A Perfect Haze: The Illustrated History of the Monterey International Pop Festival” by Harvey and Kenneth Kubernik, on his arrival in Los Angeles, Paul was invited to the home of John and Michelle Phillips, from The Mamas & The Papas, and was asked to join the board for the Festival. This invitation was not mentioned by Mal Evans in his diary published in The Beatles Monthly Book, July 1967. Instead, Mal explained the two of them visited John and Michelle Phillips the day after – April 10.

On April 9, 1967, Paul McCartney flew from Denver to Los Angeles on a Lear jet owned by Frank Sinatra. On arrival, he headed straight to the Phillips’ for some cultivated relaxation. […] McCartney was invited to join the newly-formed festival board of directors. His first recommendation was to book the Jimi Hendrix Experience, who were exploding in England at that very moment. Like John and Lou, McCartney believed that rock ‘n’ roll was more than a fad, that it merited the same respect and platform that jazz had once enjoyed. It was becoming more than crafting catchy tunes; it was informing the way you conducted your life. And what could be more life-affirming than mounting a major festival celebrating this transformation?

From “A Perfect Haze: The Illustrated History of the Monterey International Pop Festival” by Harvey and Kenneth Kubernik, 2011

During this meeting, Paul McCartney made the case for Jimi Hendrix to be invited to Monterey. His appearance at the festival in June 1967 launched his US career.

Prior to this meeting, Paul McCartney had likely met with John Phillips and Lou Adler (manager of The Mamas & The Papas) in August 1966, when The Beatles toured the US for the last time. The discussion they had reportedly led to the organization of the festival.

Pop music wasn’t covered by the mainstream media until Rolling Stone came along in November of 1967. […] The impetus for putting the festival on, about a couple of weeks prior to the festival, maybe a couple of months, Paul McCartney, myself, John Phillips, I think Cass Elliot and Michelle Phillips and we were sitting around discussing the fact that pop music wasn’t considered an art form in the way that jazz was considered, and even folk.

So when the opportunity came to purchase these dates in Monterey and do something, we thought well, here’s a chance to validate it. Monterey is known for a jazz festival, it’s known for a folk festival. Let’s just get in and do it. It was the first pop festival.

Lou Adler – Interview with Tavis Smiley for PBS, June 2007

The impetus to stage the Monterey International Pop Festival evolved one night in 1967, at Cass Elliot’s house. Paul McCartney, John and Michelle Phillips, Cass, and I were discussing, along with other highly inspired issues, the general perception of rock ‘n’ roll, and that, while jazz was considered an art form, rock ‘n’ roll was continually viewed as a fad, a trend—and yet both were American-born musical genres.

Not too long after that night, John and I were approached by Alan Pariser and a promoter named Ben Shapiro, who wanted to hire the Mamas and the Papas to headline a one-day blues and rock event at the Monterey Fairgrounds. Later that night—actually, at three o‘clock in the morning—John and I had decided, influenced by some heavy “California dreamin’,” that it should be a charitable event. Shapiro, who had envisioned a commercial event, eventually decided to leave the project, and we bought the dates from him. John and Michelle, Paul Simon, Johnny Rivers, Terry Melcher, and I put up $10,000 apíece; with six weeks to go, the Monterey International Pop Festival, a three-day non-profit event, was becoming a reality.

We established a board of governors that consisted of Donovan, Mick Jagger, Paul McCartney, Jim [later Roger] McGuinn, Terry Melcher, Andrew Loog Oldham, Alan Pariser, Johnny Rivers, Smokey Robinson, Brian Wilson, John Phillips, and myself.

The offices for the festival were on Sunset Boulevard, in the old Renaissance Jazz Club building. John, Michelle, and I were totally consumed with the festival. We spent all the preceding weeks in the office or in Monterey. The festival’s office had a real buzz going through it: David Crosby and Stephen Stills hanging out; Procol Harum’s “A Whiter Shade of Pale” being played over and over; Michelle on the phone, selling ads for the program book; John and me on the telephone, talking to managers and potential acts. Alan Pariser would stay on as a producer. Derek Taylor, who personified the perfect English gentleman and had worked with Brian Epstein and the Beatles, was our publicist. Tom Wilkes was hired as art director.

Everyone agreed that the lineup of acts would represent all genres of the immediate past, present, and future of contemporary music, and that all the acts would be treated the same and have first-class travel and accommodations.

For the most part, everyone jumped on very quickly, especially the L.A. groups like the Byrds and Buffalo Springfield. Phil Walden, Otis Redding’s manager, knew immediately that Otis would be right for Monterey and Monterey would be right for Otis. He had no doubts at all, before or after. Andrew Oldham suggested Jimi Hendrix. John contacted Paul McCartney, who raved about Hendrix and the Who. Simon and Garfunkel and the Mamas and the Papas were committed. Soon we had commitments from the Butterfield Blues Band and the Electric Flag. Ravi Shankar, who had been signed by the original producer, and Hugh Masekela added to the international flavor of the festival beyond the English acts. The festival was beginning to take shape. What was missing was representation from Northern California.

Lou Adler and John Phillips – From “A Perfect Haze: The Illustrated History of the Monterey International Pop Festival” by Harvey and Kenneth Kubernik, 2011

Having Paul McCartney and other prominent figures from the pop/rock scene as board members was a way to encourage other artists to participate in the event and accept the fact they would not receive any compensation for their performance.

It was a very foreign thing to tell artists that “we’re going to fly you in and pay your expenses, but you’re going to sing for free.” I mean, some of them were laughing at us, “I’ve never played for free in my life!” These were big people, but John and Lou were very smart. They brought people into the board of governors like McCartney, Simon and Garfunkel, and Brian Wilson. They were smart; they built an infrastructure to draw talent in. They got the names. It was not just Lou Adler and John Phillips saying, “Please do this.” It was, “Us guys want this to happen.” It was like the princes of rock ‘n’ roll got together and said, “You do this, because it’s going to a good cause.” What Lou and John really did was get every person they knew to bring in somebody that they knew. We were bantering around names like the Beatles, the Stones, and the Beach Boys.

Michelle Phillips – From “A Perfect Haze: The Illustrated History of the Monterey International Pop Festival” by Harvey and Kenneth Kubernik, 2011

We assembled a board of directors, even though it never formally met. The directors were: [Rolling Stones manager] Andrew Oldham; John Phillips; Donovan and myself; Roger McGuinn; Terry Melcher; Alan Pariser, of course; Paul Simon; Brian Wilson; and Abe Somer, who played an important part in all the legal aspects. Pariser had great relationships with the artists. Andrew Oldham was our British connection. Andrew and Paul McCartney suggested Hendrix and the Who.

Lou Adler – From “A Perfect Haze: The Illustrated History of the Monterey International Pop Festival” by Harvey and Kenneth Kubernik, 2011

The board of governors looked pretty impressive. It consisted of Paul McCartney, Donovan, Andrew Oldham, Smokey Robinson, Alan Pariser, Mick Jagger, Paul Simon, Terry Melcher, John Phillips, Lou Adler, Johnny Rivers, Jim (Roger) McGuinn, and Brian Wilson. In truth, only two of these luminaries were actively involved. But hey, it looked great on the stationery. It was all Lou [Adler] and John [Phillips] pulling the strings.

Scott McKenzie – From “A Perfect Haze: The Illustrated History of the Monterey International Pop Festival” by Harvey and Kenneth Kubernik, 2011

The Beatles didn’t participate in Monterey as they had decided to stop touring after their 1966 US tour. But John Lennon and Paul McCartney drew a “Peace To Monterey” artwork which was included in the programme for the Festival.

Monterey To Host Pop Music Festival

LOS ANGELES—A dynamic new contemporary music song festival last […] sprung up on the west coast and […] initial indications it promises to [be one the] most exciting song festival […].

It is being called the Monterey International Pop Festival and will take place in Monterey, California in June. The festival will be directed from Los Angeles by promoter Ben Shapiro and will be a non-profit corporation which will insure that all the money made from the event will be directed to a form of Pop Foundation for the betterment and furtherment of pop music as an art form.

Already pledged to perform at the festival are: the Mamas & Papas, Simon & Garfunkel, Ravi Shankar, the Beach Boys, Johnny Rivers, the Byrds, Buffalo Springfield, Donovan, Hugh Masakela, Jefferson Airplane and the Who.

The Mamas & Papas, Simon & Garfunkel, Johnny Rivers and Lou Adler, noted producer, have donated a total of $40,000 to give the festival working capital.

The Board of Governors of the festival include: Paul McCartney, Donovan, Ralph Gleason, Andrew Loog Oldham, John Phillips, Paul Simon, Terry Melcher, Johnny Rivers, Lou Adler, promoter Ben Shapiro, Brian Wilson, attorney Abe Somer and Alan Pariser.

A steering committee comprised of Adler, Phililps and Paul Simon has been elected.

The festival will open with a concert on Friday June 16 at the Monterey Fair Grounds on the edge of the Pacific. On the following day (17) there will be two concerts—an afternoon and evening event. On Sunday afternoon, June 18, sitarist Ravi Shankar, a major influence on today’s creative music force, will stage a performance. The festival will close on Sunday night with a concert comprising performers whose collective commercial price and talent no single promoter could afford.

The festival organizers are also now drawing-up plans for seminars to explain all facets of the music business to fans attending the festival. This will include workshops offering specialized instruction in instrumental skills.

Because of the status of the festival and its charitable intent, it is anticipated by the board of governors that most of the performers invited to attend will attend.

The Festival developed out of discussions held recently between promoter Ben Shapiro who wanted to book the Mamas & Papas, Johnny Rivers and Simon & Garfunkel for a Monterey Festival, a profit event. Lou Adler was also approached by Shapiro. John Phillips of the Mamas & Papas, along with Adler, and Paul Simon of Simon & Garfunkel, discussed the booking at great length and came up with the idea of staging a non-profit event. So they bought the idea from Shapiro and are going ahead with the new non-profit approach.

From Cashbox – April 22, 1967

A Hollywood Break For Paul

PAUL McCARTNEY made more friends during his recent Hollywood visit — particularly with Jefferson Airplane, one of the best-known groups who have still to make the national charts.

They flew in to Los Angeles to perform at the new Cheetah Club and while rehearsing one afternoon Paul walked in, listened attentively for a while, and then started complimenting. They told me afterwards it was one of the most pleasant shocks they ever experienced.

McCartney, who flew to San Francisco (the Airplane’s home town, incidentally) to see Jane Asher perform with the Bristol Old Vic Repertory company there, spent the evening in Hollywood with Airplane bass player Jack Casady, who reports : “He brought a bunch of demonstration records from the next Beatle album and played them for me. I couldn’t believe that they were that good! This next Beatle album will be as much an improvement over the last as ‘Rubber Soul ‘ was over the one before it.

While McCartney was in California, the Monterey Pop Festival convinced him to join Paul Simon, Art Garfunkel, John Phillips and Lou Adler on their advisory board. Others agreeing to serve on the board are Donovan, Andrew Oldham, and record producer Ferry Melcher.

Already set to appear during the three-day are the Mama’s and Papa’s, the Beach Boys, Simon and Garfunkel, Johnny Rivers, the Byrds, the Buffalo Springfield and Jefferson Airplane, with Ravi Shankar heading a special Sunday afternoon concert.

Donations from Simon, Garfunkel, the Mama’s and Papa’s, Rivers and Adler total $40,000. These funds will enable the Festival to be run as a non-profit organisation with the profits from the concerts going to a “Pop Foundation,” the purpose of which has not yet been defined, but will aid youth in some fashion.

From New Musical Express – April 22, 1967
From New Musical Express – April 22, 1967

From Cashbox – April 29, 1967

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We owe a lot to Barry Miles for the creation of those pages, but you really have to buy this book to get all the details - a day to day chronology of what happened to the four Beatles during the Beatles years!

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