A half century ago, the Monterey Pop Festival showcased the rock bands of San Francisco and Los Angeles, but the man who stole the show was Macon, Georgia’s Otis Redding. - From The Daily Beast
Phillips and Adler recognized that staging the festival on a nonprofit basis was essential to realizing their more parochial goal, which was to celebrate California’s sudden ascendancy in the world of popular music, with Los Angeles now recognized as the pop recording center of America and San Francisco as the home of the country’s most dynamic underground music scene.
Otis retained the ballad tempo of the original in the opening verses, which he sang with an exaggerated tenderness over the bare accompaniment of whole notes on the bass.
By the standards of Presley and the Beatles, certainly, the Monterey Pop Festival was a localized affair, its initial impact confined to the roughly 35,000 people who attended the event (many of whom never actually saw the performers onstage).
But the great majority of Americans had always partaken of this music secondhand, relying on white imitators and emulators, impersonators and appropriators, to translate the sounds and styles of African American music and dance into forms that were aesthetically and commercially compatible with the standards of white sensibility and the doctrines of white supremacy that had prevailed since the days of “Yankee Doodle Dandy.” It was not until the late ’40s, when radio stations and independent record labels began to cater in earnest to the new commercial market represented by the millions of blacks who had migrated from the farms and towns of the South to cities across America, that large numbers of white listeners could access the latest styles of black popular music at the click of a dial or the push of a button.
The Mamas and the Papas had disbanded, Janis Joplin and Jimi Hendrix had become international stars, the Jefferson Airplane had appeared on the cover of Life magazine, Fillmore-style rock ballrooms had opened across the country, and all of the San Francisco bands that performed at the festival had overcome their scruples about “commercialism” and signed with major corporate record labels.