Jill Gibson, the official photographer at The Monterey Pop Festival in June 1967, snapped highlights such as Hendrix in the midst of one of his greatest ever performances and The Who’s Roger Daltrey, Pete Townsend and Keith Moon destroying their instruments post-set
It was the magical weekend that began the infamous Summer Of Love across the USA and spawned the hippy movement worldwide fifty years ago.
And now over 600 never seen before images from The Monterey Pop Festival have been unearthed.
The amazing collection, photographed by festival official snapper Jill Gibson, features astonishing shots of stars like Jimi Hendrix, The Who, Janis Joplin and Rolling Stones’ star Brian Jones.
With unlimited access to the weekend event, Jill captured captivating guitar icon Jimi in the midst of one of his greatest ever performances – and the one that put him on the map in the USA.
Other stunning images feature majestic Janis commanding almost 10,000 fans on stage after walking around like just another festival goer minutes earlier.
In the collection, taken over the course of three days in June 1967, Jill nailed Roger Daltrey, Pete Townsend and Keith Moon destroying their instruments after their set, while Ravi Shankar led a much more mellow sitar session.
Her lens captured fan and Rolling Stones guitarist Brian, dressed in an elaborate flower power suit, taking in the acts, Mama Cass joking around with friends and Jefferson Airplane commanding the stage.
Other evocative pictures show attendees flocking to the Monterey, which is deemed the first ever rock festival, with its success spawning Woodstock two years later and thousands thereafter.
The photos have emerged after Jill, now a sculptor and jeweler, looked through her archives noticing that dozens of negatives from her shoot were unused.
At the time Jill sold a few Jimi shots to magazines like Rolling Stone and simply gave away her negative of Jimi burning his guitar on stage to his Warner Brothers record label.
A few other shots were given to magazines, but after a month Jill forgot about the rest as she was consumed with other shoots in Los Angeles.
In 1968 she moved to the East Coast to study painting for two years at the respected Arts Students League Of New York.
For another 24 years, she forgot about the snaps, before Monterey’s organizers contacted her to use some for a booklet celebrating the 25th anniversary of the concert film.
After that, the negatives lay in a heavy dark brown vinyl bag, which Jill kept as she moved around the country pursuing a successful career as a sculptor selling through gibsonarts.com .
In recent weeks leading photo archivist Stuart Scheinman of Globe Photos contacted Jill after hearing she had shots left over.
They acquired the rare images, digitized them for the first time with the plan to show them off upcoming gallery exhibits around the world.
These pictures will appear for the first time at a special Monterey Pop Festival 50th anniversary exhibit at the Ron Robinson Gallery, on 5th Street, Santa Monica, California from June 8 for six weeks.
Jill will sign a limited number of prints for purchase.
Jill feels proud that there is interest in her old historical shots.
“After I shot the festival, I only put out a few of the photos and the rest of the negatives have stayed with me in a vinyl bag. I never did anything with them, as I have never been good at marketing and doing business with these pictures.
“I did not have the time or connections to promote them, but when I was approached I thought it would be nice they were seen.
“So it is nice to share them finally and be acknowledged for what I caught on camera
“Also I am not much of a public person, happy to stay out of the limelight and I am not one to talk about things that happened in the past. But I am excited that they will be released now, and I am proud of what I did.”
Jill ended up being billed as Monterey’s official photographer as she was dating festival organizer and record producer Lou Adler.
As Lou created the fest, with other stars like Sir Paul McCartney and Mamas And Papas founder John Phillips, Jill documented their journey through her lens.
Jill, speaking from her home outside San Francisco, recalled: “It just all happened organically as I was dating Lou – and so pretty much all the time I shot things.
“I was never aware that I was an official photographer as Lou and I were a couple. There was nothing official on paper, but there was an understanding that because I was with Lou, I could do it.
“It was really a case of ‘ I am a photographer, I am here and I am going to shoot.’
“But I am very proud of what I got and I was very lucky.
“I didn’t really approach it like I was just there to hang out, I actually worked hard.
“I wanted to be AP photojournalist at the time, so I treated the shoot like I was documenting the event as a news story.
“I had different angles on photo taking, tried to be at different places at the stage and capture key moments.
“I am happy with what I got, but I would have liked to have taken more shots of the audience, and I never got a chance to go backstage, which would have interesting too.”
Jill admits that Jimi’s performance remains the standout moment of the festival, and still a magical memory in her life.
She snapped photos on stage and from the crowd, balanced from a chair, of Jimi’s first major American appearance.
She admits him naming his group “The Experience” perfectly summed up how she felt during the performance.
“I didn’t know Jimi really because my favorite music was jazz, but that show was something unique
“The way he played the guitar, his presence and sensuality. I was fascinated by him and to tell you the truth I didn’t even know I was taking pictures.
“His clothes were gorgeous, the music was mesmerizing and the way he related to his guitar was amazing. It was a multidimensional experience.
“It was one of the major events of my life. I have never seen anything to rival that show. I was awestruck by the way he sang and moved on stage; it was as if he was performing just for me alone.
“The crowd were swept away by him until the end, only to be rocked when he smashed up his guitar. It was mind-blowing, and as a whole experience there was never anyone to match Jim.”
Jill recalls how her iconic snaps of the performance were printed on magazine covers around the world. Without thinking she handed over the original negative of Jimi setting his instrument alight to his record label for a few hundred dollars.
That momentous image is understood to have been a key part in Jimi gaining international acclaim, turning him into one of the biggest musicians of his generation.
She added: “The Who were a good band too, but to me, that was a tough shoot getting the right exposure and angles with them on all stage.
“I loved the arty nature of the movement shots.
“At the end, I was genuinely shocked when they smashed up the instruments.
“The power of Janis’s voice was astonishing and she had a unique presence on stage. But my favorite shot from that night was just before she came on stage, almost not looking like a star. There was she was without the stage presence just a young woman with natural innocence.
“On stage, she transformed into this fierce, powerful seasoned performer able to captivate an audience.”
“Ravi Shankar was very engaging and visually very beautiful.
“The trumpeter Hugh Masekela was a stand out too as he had a brilliant light show as he played.
“Jefferson Airplane were impressive especially with Grace Slick on lead vocals.”
Even though she boasts one of the greatest rock photo shoots of all time, she has no regrets about giving up her snapping career soon after Monterey.
“I was a photographer at the time and while I was inspired by the festival, I was not inspired by the marketing part.
“I like being creative, and so I followed my heart into painting and sculpture. I follow what inspires me.
“I do not do anything professionally with photography.
“I do get inspired to take photos, but more often than not to post shots online of my jewelry or sculptures.”
Stuart Scheinman of Globe Photos said: “We at Globe Photos are excited to have acquired Jill Gibson’s archive and adding it to Globe Photos 10 million plus pop culture images.
“Jill’s images really captured the Monterey Pop Music Festival in 1967 and we are excited to share these images with the world for the first time on our website www.montereypix.com .
“This was the first major rock festival in the United States and the first break our performances by Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin and The Who’s first US performance. ”