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The Summer of Love, which spanned nearly a full year, stands as an important period in the United States’ countercultural history. Many of the period’s after-effects linger longer than hippie fashion managed to survive. Here are some key facts:
1. The Summer of Love began in the winter. The phenomenon’s lead-in, Human Be-In, occurred on January 14, 1967 in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park. The event was coordinated by artist Michael Bowen and culminated in a speech from famed LSD guru, Timothy Leary: “Turn on, tune in, drop out.” LSD had only just been declared illegal when Leary’s advocacy pushed it into high demand.
2. The Human Be-In directly influenced Hair, the musical: Co-authors James Rado and Gerome Ragni were enthralled by the event. They let their hair grow out and considered the act to be “very important historically.” The musical, which opened in October 1967, allowed those not in attendance to vicariously experience the Be-In.
3. The Summer of Love got under full swing in San Fran’s Haight-Ashbury neighborhood: Musician Joan Boaz gathered along with many thousands of gatherers to form a countercultural rebellion. The neighborhood was full of Victorian rooming houses, which formed an ideal environment for the influx of college students out for the summer. The pilgrimage overwhelmed the neighborhood.
4. Law enforcement’s attempts to stop the movement didn’t help: Media attention from newspaper articles and television programs only added fuel to the hippie momentum. The free love movement quickly deteriorated, and the neighborhood was affected by overcrowding and drug-related crime.
5: NYC, Los Angeles, Chicago, and Atlanta formed other mini-epicenters: The movement also spread to Europe and created a perfect storm of drugs, music, creativity, and sexual freedom for the hippie counterculture.
7: The Monterey Pop Festival in June attracted 30,000 hippies: John Phillips and Scott McKenzie’s song, “San Francisco (Be Sure to Wear Flowers in Your Hair),” was a driving force for the festival: “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 there.” The song hit #4 on the US Billboard charts and #1 in the UK.
7. The Monterey Festival solidified the movement: By the end of the festival, attendees blossomed to 60,000 per day. Performers included Jimi Hendrix, The Byrds, Otis Redding, Grateful Dead, The Who, Janis Joplin, and Jefferson Airplane.
8: A group of roadies stole Jerry Garcia’s amps. They used them to hold free “guerrilla concerts” in Golden Gate Park before returning them unharmed to Garcia.
9: Critic Kenneth Tynan referred to June 1 as a “decisive moment in the history of Western civilization”: A bit dramatic, considering he was talking about the release of The Beatles’ “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.” This anthem of psychedelic rock set the summer’s tone and featured many historical figures and actress Mae West on the album’s cover.
10: Hunter S. Thompson dubbed Haight-Ashbury as “Hashbury”: The district offered tours called the “Hippie Hop.” After drugs dissembled the neighborhood, many hippies packed up, left San Francisco, and moved to Marin County.
11: A mock funeral, “The Death of the Hippie,” occurred on October 9. This signaled the end of the movement and encouraged the hippies to spread their movement elsewhere. The Flower Children took the message across the states and as far away as New Zealand and Japan.