Malipalooza! fest to benefit Legacy Park

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Grace Slick of Jefferson Airplane was one of the musical artists who participated in the Monterey International Pop Music Festival, produced by Lou Adler in the '60s. Pictured is a piece painted by Slick that depicts some of the artists who performed at the 1967 festival.

Music producer Lou Adler and Grace Slick of Jefferson Airplane, both Malibu residents, will introduce “Monterey Pop,” a film about the ’60s music festival, at Malipalooza! on June 24 at Bluffs Park.

By Melonie Magruder / Special to The Malibu Times

The Summer of Love, 1967: The Beatles release “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” and Lou Adler, a Malibu resident, produces “the first real rock festival ever held,” the Monterey International Pop Music Festival, celebrated on the county fairgrounds in Monterey, Calif.

The festival was, as music writer Rusty De Soto said, “A seminal event… featuring debut performances of bands that would shape the history of rock and affect popular culture from that day forward.”

The line-up included famous acts like Jefferson Airplane, The Who and Ravi Shankar, alongside breakout performers like Jimi Hendrix, in his first major American appearance, Otis Redding and a young Texas singer recently found on the streets of Haight-Ashbury, Janis Joplin.

Monterey Pop would become the model for future music festivals-notably Woodstock-and, fortunately, was all captured on film by director D.A. Pennebaker. But more fortunately for Malibu, that 1968 film is headlining Malipalooza!, Malibu’s First Annual Summer Festival at Bluffs Park, on June 24, to benefit the Malibu Legacy Park Project, thanks to Adler.

The brainchild of Mayor Pro Tem Pamela Conley Ulich, Malipalooza! evolved from CineMalibu, a free movies-in-the-park night designed to “give our kids something to do on summer evenings and bring the community together,” Conley Ulich said.

But Malipalooza! promises to be a great deal more, with stage performances, children’s activities, a battle of the bands, including local groups Zuma and New Dogs, Old Tricks, and a special screening of the rock film, “Monterey Pop,” to be introduced by Adler and Jefferson Airplane front woman, Grace Slick.

Slick, a Malibu resident for 10 years, reminisced about the influential rock event: “What was great about Monterey Pop was that we had heard about each other, but had never seen each other,” she said. “We had never met the Brits, like The Who or Jimi [Hendrix] or Ravi [Shankar]. And it was so exciting for us!”

Jefferson Airplane had just released their LP “Surrealistic Pillow” and was poised to become the defining voice of psychedelic rock. But Slick said that what stayed with her was how “personal” the Monterey festival seemed.

“We would stand offstage and watch the other acts and our mouths would just hang open,” she continued. “We were just a San Francisco band wearing jeans and singing. We didn’t have dancing girls behind us. And here were the Brits-who knew all about ‘show time-wearing these wild clothes and Jimi lighting his guitar on fire and The Who smashing things up. I mean, people just couldn’t believe it!”

Monterey Pop was markedly the first true multiperformer benefit concert, a concept that Bob Geldof carried to global extremes with his “Band Aid” concerts in the ’80s. But Slick said rock groups played benefits “all the time back then.” It was an era when America’s youth was beginning to expand a sense of conscious self, question authority and rebel against the tragedy in Vietnam.

“There was anger and disappointment and fear with our government back then,” Slick said. “And we were young and naïve, and thought we could change things with love and education and helping one another.”

Drugs were also a big part of that era.

“I went to the same college Tricia Nixon did in New York and we were all invited to a White House tea,” she said. “Even me! So I got my friend Abbie Hoffman into a suit and tied back his hair-he looked like a mafia don-and we stood in line for the White House. I had in my pocket 600 micrograms of acid and I was going to drop it into the President’s tea. He’d have been so loony, they would have had to take him to Langley.”

White House security recognized Slick, however, and declined to allow her entry. (The invite was sent in her family name, Grace Wing.)

Slick is a “nonpracticing addict” these days, “except for my cholesterol pills,” and has returned to a childhood passion of painting. One of her works commemorating the Monterey Pop Festival depicts some of the artists who appeared at that concert. It will be featured at Malipalooza!

Entry to Malipalooza! is free and parking is $5. Concessions will be plentiful and vendors selling local wares will be donating some of their proceedings to the Legacy Park Project. Tickets to a private reception run $250 and $500, which will entitle the donor to recognition on the park’s planned Honor Wall. The event will also give commendations to those who helped fight the proposed LNG terminal, recently nixed by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.

“I see Malipalooza! as a ‘bookend,’ with this festival opening the summer and the Chili Cook-Off closing [it],” Conley Ulich said. “This is a chance for neighbor to relax with neighbor in a real, exciting community event. We have so much to celebrate!”

More information about Malipalooza! can be obtained by contacting Susan Shaw at 310.305.2033 or susan.shaw2@ca.rr.com