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Monday, September 13, 2010

Monterey Pop Festival #1

     I drove from Berkeley to Monterey with Barry Melton and friend of his named Louie Nestor. Barry of course was one of the guitar players with Country Joe and The Fish. Louie I found out later was a speed freak. I don't know how Louie and Barry knew each other. We drove in my car. I don't remember Barry having a car in 1967. As we drove past the military base and stopped at a stop sign another car pulled up beside us. Driving was an army officer, probably going to work on the base. I could tell he was a pretty high ranking officer because his hat had "scrambled eggs" on it, indicating his rank above major. Louie looked over at him and gave him the finger. The officer cringed and drove off. Probably thinking about the hippies invading his town for the weekend.
     We arrived at our motel and checked into our rooms. It was an old school 50's kind of motel. The room was full of what is called knotty pine. This was very fashionable when I was growing up. We went over to the fair grounds and got our passes and checked out the stage area. We met Augustus Stanley Owsley, later known as Bear, hanging out behind the stage. He said he had just made something he called STP a new kind of psychedelic drug. It was a little pink pill. I doubted its strength so I asked him for a couple and took one and a half. I split the rest with a friend of our manager Ed Denson. His name escapes me. But I knew him because he was an old boyfriend of a girlfriend of Ed's. She rode a motorclycle and lived in Berkeley in a closet. Yes, she shared an apartment on old Grove Street near Ashby and her part of the apartment was the closet. It had a single mattress on the floor. I spent the night there one time and we had sex in her closet room. Odd.
      No one told me but there was a room in the back stage area for musicians with food and drinks and amps and everyone jammed together. They never told me anything. So I went back to the motel with Ed's friend who was also staying there. It was very close to the beach. Of course it is Monterey, California. The whole town is right next to the beach. So I was in my room and the STP began to work. The knotty pine walls began to move. The knots in the pine sent out ripples like when you drop a stone in water. I heard a train coming from the left side of my head. It got louder and louder and then roared right through my head and out the right side and off and away. I thought hmmmm this is kind of different.
     It became evening and a bunch of us got into a car to go to the local coffee shop for dinner. I was still smoking cigarettes then and the fire from then end of my cigarette fell onto the floor at my feet in the back seat where I was sitting. I looked down to find it and stick it back onto the remaining  part of my cigarette. There were about a dozen red coals down there. I knew that only one was real the rest were hallucinations. So I just poked around until I found the right on and kept on smoking my cigarette. We got to the coffee shop and I remember it was full of people and cars but I don't really remember eating or what happened after that. But eventually it was starting to be dawn and I was on the sea shore with Ed's friend who was having a bad trip. I remember saying how great it was for me and him saying it was not great for him.
      We walked along the shore and a school of porpoises swam by. They were leaping out of the water. I was wonderful. I got excited and started yelling to them. It seemed like they paused and looked back. Later on that day I would tell the audience about my experience. I don't think they understood at all and just thought I was stoned. Which I was of course. I mean I stayed up for a week on that STP!


  1. Great Stuff Joe! I`ll Be Pickin up a Copy!

  2. Interesting, but not true: I drove to the Monterey Pop Festival in my old Ford station wagon, with my girlfriend, Ginette (who later became my first wife). Check out Elaine Mayes book of photographs from the festival -- there's a picture of me and Ginette in there...that's because we went there together...

    A lot of the other stuff you're writing about me really stretches the truth; although I make allowances, because two people experiencing the same events often see things differently. But you often make me sound like some kind of corrupting influence when, in fact, I'm 5-1/2 years younger than you are (which isn't a big deal now that we're in our 60's, but it was huge back then -- the Monterey Pop Festival began two days after my 20th birthday and you were well into your 25th year.) And again, this account of the drive to Monterey is a complete fabrication or -- at best -- you're confusing it with some other event.

    Why are you doing this? What part of you wants to make public private moments with old friends? Are you desperate for money, attention, or both?

    Barry Melton
    a/k/a Barry "The Fish" Melton