The 1967 Monterrey Pop Festival helped shape the format of major music events commonly recognised today. After enduring a summer without any music festivals, we are revisiting one of the ultimate breakthrough set courtesy of a 24-year-old gifted with a voice like no other. The bash was iconic for a plethora of different reasons and one of the definitive performances came from Janis Joplin, who emerged as the star leading lady of Big Brother and the Holding Company and, with it, her fiery vocal performance, the voice of her generation, was finally given the stage she deserved.
Joplin was one of many icons permanently discovered that day. It was a performance that saw them delight the audience and one particular highlight from her iconic set came when she led her band through a powerful rendition of ‘Ball and Chain’ which was her entrance into the limelight and saw her become one of the most integral voices the world has ever seen.
The Monterey Pop Festival would see a range of some of the best musicians the world has ever known given their first taste of fame on a large scale and an audience which dwarfed it. The Who would find their feet across the pond with their performance at the event, Jimi Hendrix would also gain the notoriety he deserved, Ravi Shankar would also benefit from the increased American exposure.
Joplin’s band, who were still yet to share their debut record which would be released just a few months following this performance, faced an incredible weight of intrigue that surrounded her show and the impeccable talent arrived at the festival as an unknown quantity and leaving as a bonafide starlet.
The band’s performance went down so well on Saturday afternoon that they were remarkably offered the opportunity to do it all over again the next day to which they obliged, with that second set changing everything. After the word soon spread about the magnificence of their performance the previous day, anyone who was anyone was in attendance for their second set of the weekend which would result in Big Brother and the Holding Company being snapped up by Columbia Records following another awe-inspiring display.
“It was a career-making, career-defining moment,” Jeff Jampol who is in charge of Joplin’s back catalogue said of the set. “The right festival with the right people in the audience and an absolutely groundbreaking and historic incendiary performance caught on film.”
Famed music producer Lou Adler was in attendance that evening and it was a performance that he’ll never forget: “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.”
Her performance of ‘Ball and Chain‘ is masterful, the likelihood is most people in attendance didn’t even know who Joplin was before the festival yet here she was delighting the crowd with a marvellous set that they could only watch on in awe of.