What if the Beach Boys had played Monterey?

Discussion in 'Music Corner' started by RayistaGeoff, Aug 14, 2005.

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  1. RayistaGeoff

    RayistaGeoff Forum Resident Thread Starter

    I was thinking about this last night as I was watching footage of Brian's appearance at the Glastonbury festival and the thread about bands that played both Woodstock and the Monterey Pop Festival reminded me:

    As we all know, Brian was on the executive advisory board (or whatever) of the Monterey Pop Festival, and the Beach Boys were supposed to play (maybe even close, I don't remember). But supposedly in part because of worries about their image and credibility in hipper circles, they (and/or Brian) cancelled.

    I do think that if they'd gone and played their old hits, it would have been a disaster, just confirming how out of step with the times they were. But I've always kind of wondered what would have happened if they'd gone for broke and gone on at Monterey and played absolutely nothing except stuff from Smile/Smiley Smile. I'm trying to remember the chronology, but "Good Vibrations" hit number 1 in December of '66. Is that right? So at least that tune would have been familiar. Would they have just blown everybody away with their weird new direction, forever altering their history as we know it (obscurity followed by nostalgia act)? Or would people have just been pissed off because they wanted to hear "I Get Around", etc. and things would have gone on perhaps much as they did?

    Whaddya think?

  2. ascot

    ascot Senior Member

    Check out the live medley recorded October 1966 on Endless Harmony. They probably would have done something like this at Monterey along with whatever newer material they felt was ready.
  3. Jose Jones

    Jose Jones Outstanding Forum Member

    Detroit, Michigan
    More likely, their set would have been similar to what they played in Hawaii in August 1967, as a one-off concert in which Brian Wilson himself participated! I believe Good Vibrations and God Only Knows were the only post-1965 material performed.

    Unfortunately, as boots from that show reveal, their performance wasn't very good. It's probably best that they didn't play Monterey.
  4. Bill

    Bill Senior Member

    Eastern Shore
    They would have come across as as much as of anachronism as the Association does on the Criterion DVD set, compared to Big Brother, the Airplane, Hendrix and the Who. Plus, between the Smile meltdown and the litigation with Capitol, they were really in no condition, emotional or physical, to appear. I saw them before the **** hit the fan on Smile at the University of Michigan show the previous October (it wasn't MSU), and they didn't distinguish themselves, even with Brian in the wings. (There's a reason Brian used the Wrecking Crew on Smile!) Note that the 1967 live "rehearsals" for Hawaii contained on the Endless Harmony CD were an obvious after-the-fact attempt to fake the live album, Party-style, because what was recorded in Hawaii, after the hyped announcements in the press of the live recording there, was unreleasable. In sum, their Monterey non-appearance was probably a good aesthetic decision, although, in theory, a career blunder.

    P.S. Judging from the Budokan video from '66, not to mention John's reportedly ever-present mortar & pestle in 1967, I'll bet the Beatles, continually rumored to show at Monterey, would have stunk up the place, too.

    (Flame away!)
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  5. Chief

    Chief Over 10,000 Served

    On 8/25/67, they played the following set: The Letter, Hawaii, You're So Good To Me, Surfer Girl, Surfin, Gettin Hungry, California Girls, Wouldn't It Be Nice, Heroes And Villains, God Only Knows, Good Vibrations, Barbara Ann.

    I would assume that some things (like Hawaii, Surfin') were only for the occasion. Those didn't stay in their future sets. Since none of the acts put on a full show, I think its possible that if they put on a show with an amended version of the Hawaii set, performed competently, they would've been well-received.

    My theory: The rock press at the time was anti-Beach Boys (especially the hippy-oriented SF rock press), and the prevailing wisdom of a Beach Boys performance at Monterey was generated largely from these sources + the misinterpretation of Jimi's "you'll never hear surf music again" comment which became rock folklore. In 1967, the Beach Boys were still a big act, even if their 64-65 image was hopelessly dated. "Pet Sounds" was widely acclaimed. "Good Vibrations" was their biggest hit ever a few months previously. I think that if the guys played a good set (or dare I dream, something as competent as they did in 1968), they would've been well received.

    Of the bands that DID play, some of the "credible" bands were having off nights - at least The Byrds (well, maybe typical for them), and Buffalo Springfield.
    Bcorig, supermd, theMess and 2 others like this.
  6. Raunchnroll

    Raunchnroll Senior Member

    I was reading an interview with David Freiberg of Quicksilver Messenger Service where he essentially dismissed their appearance at Monterey. He said it was weird because they played right in the middle of the day. I guess they had time for only a short set also. Personally, I didn't think QMS was lackluster although it is a little odd to see one of SF's premier jam bands in mid-day like that. The Mama's & Papa's and The Association were probably closest to the festival's 'pop' edges. On one hand they're both pretty far from the likes of Hendrix, The Who, or the Airplane, but they still fit in fine. (The liner notes to The Association's 'The Essentials' notes their mass appeal was due in part to a wider fan age range than many bands of the era, being equal parts hip and square.) Both played evening sets - and both got a good crowd response. And lets face it, they clearly put on a more dynamic show than many of the other 'cooler' acts there.

    While The M&P's were folk rock, they still had what I'd call a sort of California-lite sound, similar to the Beach Boys. Not knowing much about the Beach Boys state at the time - and of course being too young to get the vibe of the period as to who was 'cool' and who wasn't, I think their music would have fit. It would certainly have rounded out the festival's variety a little farther. I suspect the time of day they went on would have had an impact as well on their appearance - as Freiberg had noted. Imagine them playing around sunset - sweet!
    Bcorig, dumangl and monkees paw like this.
  7. quicksilverbudie

    quicksilverbudie quicksilverbudie

    I still can't believe the Doors didn't attend for whatever reason....Jimi Janis and Jim would have been very cool. Maybe Papa John didn't want Morrison doing his thing and upstaging everybody. IMO. Summer of "67 the doors were at their peak. Light My Fire was number one around the time of Monterey.

    billnunan likes this.
  8. dgsinner

    dgsinner New Member

    Far East
    No flame. I think you're right. Drug burn-out, touring burn-out, both took their toll.
  9. dgsinner

    dgsinner New Member

    Far East
    I think it bears repeating what Jimi Hendrix meant by that comment: that without Dick Dale, whose bout with cancer forced an early retirement, real surf music was dead.
    supermd, theMess and dumangl like this.
  10. Ski Bum

    Ski Bum Happy Audiophile

    Long Island, NY
    As a Forum member who is old enough to remember who was "cool" and who wasn't at the time of the Monterey Pop Festival, I don't think the Mamas and Papas/Beach Boy analogy works. While certainly not on the leading edge of the acts like Jimi, the Who and the Airplane, the Mamas and Papas did not have the old time surf music baggage that the Beach Boys were lugging around. California Dreamin/Monday Monday etc. seemed more modern at the time than the BB's stuff. Bottom line: I don't think the BBs would have been taken seriously by the Monterey crowd.
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  11. gd0

    gd0 Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies

    Golden Gate
    All speculative of course... the BB / M&P comparison is not without merit, but another factor that might be considered (from yet another geezer's perspective) is that there was a significant spirit of experimentation and acceptance during the time (Rollong Stone mag's critiques notwithstanding) that might have played in the BB's favor.

    If Smile was moving along positively, a presentation of that kind of fresh music to an unsuspecting crowd could well have been a major triumph... but as it stands, they probably did well to back away... it's not like the BBs tanked forever.

    If if's and but's were candy and nuts.....
  12. dgsinner

    dgsinner New Member

    Far East
    As long they dropped the Kingston Trio striped shirts... :D

    When I saw the BBs in 1973, Mike Love dazzled the crowd with his white pleated, purple lined modified nehru-style jacket and groovin' cap and matching white pants...Wow, man, I thought to myself, wondering where I could get threads like that in little ole Chico...if that had been available in 1967, then maybe...
  13. JohnnyQuest

    JohnnyQuest Forum Resident

    Scaled down versions of songs from Pet Sounds and whatever was in the works for Smile/Smiley. **** it. Let's improvise. Lol
    I doubt they could've pulled it off successfully but cancelling their performance only hurt them more. It would've been an interesting performance to say the least.
    dumangl likes this.
  14. chacha

    chacha Forum Resident

    mill valley CA USA
    I think it would have done them good and been a shot in the arm for the band.!I doubt it would have done them any harm for if they played poorly they wouldn't have been in the film as many of the others weren't.
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  15. chewy

    chewy Forum Resident

    West Coast USA
    dude listen to beach boys concerts from that time period they defiantly changed their shows w/ the times and developed new sounds, sure in the shows they still played some old hits but new stuff was always being intrduced
    monkees paw likes this.
  16. cwitt1980

    cwitt1980 Forum Resident

    Carbondale, IL USA
    The real question is how would this have altered the song "Monterey" by Eric Burdon?
  17. notesfrom

    notesfrom Forum Resident

    NC USA
    Brian still was still losing his mind, and that seemed irreversible.

    But it might have helped them commercially among the aboveground/underground sect - hippies and college kids and what not.

    Maybe Mike Love would have been dosed and then saw the light at the end of the Smile tunnel and pushed for that album's completion.
  18. dumangl

    dumangl Senior Member

    I think an appearance at Monterrey could have helped The Beach Boys, particularly if they performed their new music and couldn't have hurt them much. The Beach Boys at this time didn't have a lot to lose as far as public perception of coolness was concerned.
  19. PacificOceanBlue

    PacificOceanBlue Senior Member

    The Southwest
    I am not sure how a BB performance would have been accepted by the Monterey crowd. I suspect that there may have been a faction that was not fully supportive.
    Sax-son likes this.

    DEAN OF ROCK Forum Resident

    Hoover, AL
    Do you mean the "tragically hip" faction?
  21. Daniel Plainview

    Daniel Plainview God's Lonely Man

    Considering how..."out of sorts"...the band were at the time I think they would have been boo'ed off the stage. One listen to their Hawaii show from that year is all you need to hear. Brian's crazy minimalist Smiley-Smile-esque arrangements of their old hits would have sounded like a practical joke beside the electricity The Who and Hendrix.
    saborlord123 likes this.
  22. zen

    zen Forum Resident

    They would have improved the festival.

    There were some acts there that should have boo'ed off the stage, but weren't. I think the Beach Boys would have gone done well enough.
    Last edited: Mar 24, 2015
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  23. Anthology123

    Anthology123 Senior Member

    I guess it depends, if the Beach Boys had closed the show ahead of the Who and Hendrix, could they have topped Hendrix lighting his guitar on fire at the end? And if the Beach Boys had not closed out the show, would they have been a forgotten act with the finale of The Who and Hendrix?
  24. S. P. Honeybunch

    S. P. Honeybunch Presidente de Kokomo

    California, USA
    They didn't have to "distinguish themselves", Bill. They are the freaking Beach Boys with the best vocalists this side of the pearly gates. Their vocals are head and shoulders above 99.9% percent of all bands who could have possibly performed at Monterey. I think that you might be buying into the Rolling Stone hip trap here.
  25. Bill

    Bill Senior Member

    Eastern Shore
    Have someone read you my ten year old post that you quote. They were not overwhelming live in October 1966 or in the 1967 concerts in Hawaii, evidenced by the fact that, although they were all recorded, they never saw the light of day.
    Plus, vocals were not real big in 1967 at Monterey. Otherwise, the Lettermen would have headlined.
    Last edited: Mar 24, 2015
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