[This was my column for GlobalNews.ca. – AC]
When organizers of the Monterey Pop Music Festival announced plans for a multi-day event in June 1967, there were plenty of skeptics. No one had ever done anything on this scale for rock bands. But despite terrible sound, lackluster audience amenities, and dodgy sanitation, the festival was a hit, thanks to some great performances from Jimi Hendrix, The Who, Janis Joplin, The Mamas & the Papas, Otis Redding, and more. The era of the rock festival had arrived.
Festivals began springing up like mushrooms, some legendary for good reasons (Woodstock) and bad reasons (Altamont). Others like Glastonbury (est. 1970) and Roskilde (est. 1971) became annual events that continue to this day. Some have been forgotten entirely. The Strawberry Fields Festival falls into this latter category.
Strawberry Fields was conceived as Canada’s answer to Woodstock, an event for the age of Aquarius. Unfortunately, it didn’t turn out that way.