Songs that define history: Summer of love 1967

The Doors
Photo of American rock group The Doors posed in Germany in 1968. Left to right: John Densmore, Robbie Krieger, Jim Morrison (1943-1971) and Ray Manzarek (1939-2013). (Photo by K & K Ulf Kruger OHG/Redferns)

The hippy movement had been brewing for decades with the beatnik naïve idealism turning to mysticism and starting the Cultural Revolution. The Zombies had forecast it with ‘The Time of The Season’, singing “it was the time of the season when love runs high”.

The underground magazine Oracle proclaimed a gathering of the clans was to meet for a Human-Be-In at The Golden Gate Park in San Francisco on January 14, 1967.

The clans consisted of the nature people, the truth seekers and the more radical politicos.

The nature people were basically the old beatnik eco warriors who preached “Love is all you need”; The Beatles’ ‘All You Need Is Love’ or The Young Rascals’ ‘Groovin’’, “All the happy people we could meet just groovin’ on a Sunday afternoon.” Their idealism was based on personal growth as fulfilment rather than personal gain.

The truth seekers were the acid trippers dedicated to the writings of the self-proclaimed English Satanist Aleister Crowley and the English author Aldous Huxley whose book The Doors of Perception became the bible of the hippy generation. Jim Morrison claimed The Doors were named as result of reading this book. They were more into the psychedelic mix of eastern philosophy and journeys into the unconsciousness of the time like ‘Hole In My Shoe’ by Traffic or Procol Harum’s ‘Whiter Shade Of Pale’.

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The politicos were basically new left students from the Berkley University campus who were already causing upheaval with sit-ins and riots; they were joined by a violent group from across the bridge in Oakland called The Black Panthers. This group were asking for ‘Respect’, Aretha Franklin.

The youth of America headed for California and were told to “Wear some flowers in your hair”, “San Francisco”, Scott MacKenzie. The Human-Be-In started with author Timothy Leary asking everyone to “Turn on, tune in, and drop out”. The music was performed by Jefferson Airplane who had a United States top 10 hit with ‘White Rabbit’; a lot of the audience were wearing white rabbit suits. Also on the bill were The Grateful Dead who were described as the definitive hippy rock band.

When the world news picked up this happening everyone started heading to San Francisco, ‘Let’s Go To San Francisco’, by The Flowerpot Men with the inviting lyrics “Let’s go to San Francisco, let the wind blow right through your hair, see the love glow on people’s face”.

The hippies based themselves in the Haight/Asbury district of the city.

From June 16-18, Monterey held the landmark pop festival featuring Otis Redding, The Mamas & The Papas, Simon & Garfunkel, The Byrds, Janis Joplin and The Big Brother Holding Company,Buffalo Springfield,Canned Heat,Country Joe & The Fish, The Grateful Dead and Jefferson Airplane. But the star performers came over from the United Kingdom. Eric Burdon and The Animals sang ‘San Franciscan Nights’. The Who performed ‘My Generation’ after which they smashed their instruments to the utter bewilderment of the audience. Jimi Hendrix brought a musical and visual feast and after he played his version of ‘The Star Spangled Banner’ and set fire to his guitar, which sent the crowd into raptures. Janis Joplin brought the crowd to their feet with her rendition of ‘Ball And Chain’ after which things were never the same for her, she was in high demand. There was so much LSD being consumed it added a new meaning to The Byrds song ‘Eight Miles High’.

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The popularity of this festival saw the end of free concerts when the record companies started handing out $100,000 advances to the bands. Other well-known open air concerts followed Woodstock, Isle Of Wight and Glastonbury in the UK, Sunbury and Narara in Australia. (More about these festivals in another article.)

Other songs related to this subject include, ‘Itchycoo Park’ by The Small Faces, “What did you do there? I got High”; ‘The Rain, The Park And Other Things’ by The Cowsills , “I love the flower girl” ; ‘The Magical Mystery Tour’ by The Beatles and ‘Stairway To Heaven’ by Led Zepplin.

Where were you in 1967? Do you remember these big musical events?