If you’re going to San Francisco,
be sure to wear some flowers in your hair
If you’re going to San Francisco,
Summertime will be a love in-in there
“San Francisco,” the #4 hit in the U.S. and #1 in the U.K, 1967
It was so hippie – no beginning, no end, no planning, no squares. Just a “happening” that keeps on happening. How groovy is that, dude?
For those who must have a starting date: January 14, 1967, the “Human-Be-In” at Golden Gate Park.
It was there the Pied Piper of psychedelics, Tim Leary, first urged youth to “turn on, tune in, drop out.” Allen Ginsberg led the “Gathering of the Tribes” in a final benediction – a collective “OM.”
Let the Summer Games begin! There was free music, free food, free drugs, free medical care and, with a little luck, you might “get lucky” and find “free” love. Sounds of Jefferson Airplane and Grateful Dead wafted through the air, mixing with pungent clouds of marijuana smoke. You could get stoned just by strolling. The phrase “contact high” was born.
Day by day the crowds swelled. The world’s first major rock concert, the nearby Monterey Pop Festival, drew 60,000. The word went out: “Let’s boogie up north to San Francisco and check it out.” Traditional Spring-breakers looking for a change of pace and curious about “hippie chicks” also streamed into Haight-Ashbury. Soldiers from nearby military bases, ready to party, joined the throngs.
The “scene” became a tourist attraction. Greyline buses snaked through narrow streets teeming with tie-died fashionistas and braless, even topless, young ladies.
It didn’t take long for the small neighborhood to be overwhelmed by some 100,000 revelers. Eventually, the celebration deteriorated into street people, drug overdoses, hunger, disease, fights and crime. Still, “good vibrations” prevailed for most.
The Summer decompressed more than ended. Kids had to get back to school. Some ran out of their money or their minds. Voyeurs grew bored and the tourist season was winding down. On October 7, those remaining staged a mock funeral, “The Death of the Hippie,” to symbolize the demise.
Haight-Ashbury was forever transformed by the experience and became a hippie tribal enclave. To this day it remains a bohemian Mecca, a home for whatever counter-cultures are currently in vogue.
For the 40th anniversary, there was a one-day reunion in San Francisco that drew over 30,000 and included some of the original musicians who played there in 1967. Mayor Gavin Newsom, who was still in the womb when the event unfolded, proclaimed an official day commemorating the heady times, declaring: “Whereas, The Summer of Love in San Francisco is internationally recognized as the birthplace of the 60s revolution that ignited a spiritual awakening that swept the world…”
Baby Boomer Trivia Questions
►What was the original name of the Grateful Dead?
►Match Game: Connect the person with the notoriety
Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test / Left Wing Lawyer / Poet / Rock Promoter
►The anti-hippie anthem of the 1970s
Oakie from Muskogee
Don’t Tread on Me
I Was Born in a Small Town
Answers at end of post
Freak, as an ironic term of endearment to describe a hippie, was likely picked up from its use in the 1940s to describe circus side-show people. Both groups looked different and were alienated from mainstream society. Perhaps the wild caricatures of R. Crumb and other counterculture comic artists contributed to the popularity of the word. It’s not unlike the use of “queer” by gays to describe themselves, although in that case it’s also a reclamation of a once derisive term.
Psychedelic has a specific origin. H. Osmond, a psychologist experimenting with mind-altering drugs to treat alcoholism, introduced it in a 1957 scientific article. The new word was a combination of the Greek psykhe (mind) and deloun (make visible, reveal). Ten years later, the word as well as the substance was on many tongues.
►The Grateful Dead began as The Warlocks.
Lawrence Ferlinghetti→ Poet
Ken Kesey→ Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test
Bill Graham→ Rock Promoter
William Kunsler→ Left Wing Lawyer
►Merle Haggard’s Oakie from Muskogee was a big anti-hippie hit.