Still one of the most famous rock festivals of all time, Monterey Pop brought together much of the music that was striking chords with young people all over America- some of the talent that had been obscure or small time in the US (Otis Redding and Jimi Hendrix), while others were huge smash bands (The Who, Simon & Garfunkel, Mamas and the Papas), not to mention a breakthrough performance for Ravi Shankar. With this accompaniment to the feature film, which was released twenty years or so before this, Hendrix and the Experience brought their sound for the first time after being the cult favorites in the UK. It’s not a long concert, but it can certainly be counted as one of his most notorious.
There were allegations, which perhaps could or could not be true (I haven’t read any biographies about the concert, but I heard the rumors), that Hendrix was on acid during the set. Whatever he was on or wasn’t on, the songs that come through (filmed with superb documentary detail by DA Pennebaker, with assistance from Albert Maysles) are none-the-less mesmerizing. Aside from what has been played over and over to show the insane magnitude of Hendrix (burning his guitar after a crazed rendition of “Wild Thing”), there’s also a turn of “Like a Rolling Stone”, “Hey Joe”, and a beautiful bit with “The Wind Cries Mary”. There could’ve been more in the way of interviews, but as it is, Jimi Plays Monterey is a fine little companion piece to the film.