A Brief History
On January 14, 1967, San Francisco saw the iconic counter-culture event “The Human Be-In.”
Digging deeper, we find the gathering, the brainchild of Michael Bowen, at Golden Gate Park.
An evolution of 1950’s “beat-niks,” “the hippies” and “flower children” of the 1960s were looking for something other than the answers main stream America gave them, and they flocked to San Francisco, the Mecca of counter-culture.
The Human Be-In became the inspiration for the musical play Hair, which of course celebrated the shift from men and boys having short hair to the (at the time) controversial long hair that became emblematic of that era.
This era was also the time and place Timothy Leary, an unofficial spokesman of the hippie movement, uttered his immortal words, “turn on, tune in, drop out,” which to the consternation of many parents of college students was taken quite literally.
If long hair and dropping out of college were not enough, the older generations, especially the parents of girls, were further driven to distraction by the concept of “free love,” sex with whomever, whenever and wherever you want! Another major difference of opinion (and the law) was the use of illegal drugs, especially marijuana and LSD.
Although other cities saw their young adults and teens celebrate the “Summer of Love,” the heart and soul of the movement was in San Francisco, started by the 30,000 attendees of the Human Be-in. Other important events also took place in 1967, such as the Monterey Pop Festival, memorialized by The Animals’ song “Monterey.”
Probably the most iconic and symbolic song of the Summer of Love was sung by Scott Mckenzie (“San Francisco (Be Sure to Wear Flowers In Your Hair).”)
The Human Be-in kicked off a year in which so many lives would be forever changed; some did not continue their studies or pursue academic careers; others got a criminal record for drug use; and a few were left with venereal diseases such as herpes, the result of “free love.”
On the other hand, the anti-war sentiment helped end the war in Viet Nam sooner than it would have without the influence of “flower power,” and certainly many people were redirected to their true calling by the messages of peace, love and disregard for material wealth. Peace, brothers and sisters!
Question for students (and subscribers): Do you think protest concerts are effective? Please let us know in the comments section below this article.
Your readership is much appreciated!
For more information on this event and this era, please see:
Anthony, Gene. Magic of the Sixties. Gibbs Smith, 2004.
Anthony, Gene and Michael McClure. Summer of Love: Haight-Ashbury at its Highest. Last Gasp, 1995.
And just for fun…
Forman, Milos, dir. Hair. 20th Century Fox, 2011. Blu-ray.