The symbols and totems of the 1967 Summer of Love are legion: peace signs painted on hippy girls’ cheeks, flowers in the hair, tribal gatherings of semi-naked war protestors in San Francisco parks . . .
The Summer of Love was about drugs – marijuana and LSD – and that’s why the tabloid press could never get a proper handle on it. The ‘Switched On’ Mirror (they didn’t dare call it ‘Turned On’) would have loved to run competitions for a weekend at the Vondel park Love-In in Amsterdam, but the winners would have been surrounded by stoned hippies – not much of an advertisement for a straight newspaper.
Of course, all this didn’t just happen. Most of the events were organised by a core of people largely connected to the International Times, the underground paper that ran the UFO Club, held the Sunday Uncommon Markets at the Roundhouse and staged the 14 hour Technicolor Dream at Alexandra Palace.
For many people, the epitome of the Summer of Love was in fact during the spring of ’67, at the 14 Hour Technicolor Dream on 29 April, when more than 10,000 people gathered in Alexandra Palace for a huge benefit party in aid of International Times.
Forty-two bands played, often simultaneously, one at each end of the cavernous hall. There was a helter-skelter and an igloo where you could smoke banana skins – that year’s harmless scam.
Skinheads who’d arrived hoping for a bit of bovver were seen skipping hand in hand with girls in lace and velvet dresses, out of their heads on acid. John Lennon saw it on the TV news, jumped in the Rolls and arrived high on LSD.
As the dawn broke through the giant rose window, the Pink Floyd came on stage. Syd Barrett never played better.
Hoppy and Dave Howson were the main originators, though over the years other people have tried to take credit. One of these is Harvey Goldsmith, who had claimed in several interviews that the 14 Hour Dream was his first big event. In fact, Harvey’s only involvement was to be listed in the next issue of IT as one of the many people who still hadn’t paid for the 100 tickets he took on commission.
By June, the police had busted Hoppy and put him in Wormwood Scrubs for nine months for a tiny quantity of pot. That same month also saw the sentencing of Mick Jagger, Keith Richards and avant-garde gallery owner Robert Fraser.
Police turned dogs on a peaceful demonstration outside the court and again the next day when 2,000 young people arrived from various West End clubs to demonstrate in Piccadilly. Mick and Keith got off on appeal, but Robert did six months in the Scrubs. Also jailed was Black Power leader Michael X, for calling some Fleet Street reporters “white monkeys”.
Michael, who wrote regularly for IT, thus became the first person charged under the Race Relations Act, designed to protect black people. William Burroughs volunteered to be Michael’s interpreter in court; Michael represented himself and did 12 months.
With vast advance media publicity, a Legalise Pot Rally was held at Speaker’s Corner on 16 July, featuring Allen Ginsberg and assorted London policemen. That night even the BBC newsreader gave an Indian namasti sign as he signed off.
This was followed on 24 July by a full page ad in The Times, calling for the legislation of marijuana, signed by – among others – all of The Beatles.
By this time summer was in full swing and the entrepreneurs had moved in. A ‘Love-In Festival’ was held at Alexandra Palace by regular promoters hoping to capitalize on the 14 Hour Dream. The Electric Garden (a blatant copy of the UFO Club) opened in Covent Garden, but the hippies were not fooled and the club soon changed its name to Middle Earth and re-opened under new, more community-oriented management.
The radical element of the movement was soon swamped by people everywhere jumping on the bandwagon. Appropriately enough, many of them were bands – Zoot Money’s Big Roll Band became Dantalian’s Chariotovernight (featuring Andy Summers – who later managed to become a punk as well). The Move suddenly went psychedelic. Eric Burdon went all mystical. And, of course, the rag trade was flooding Carnaby Street with Flower Children dresses, imported kaftans, badges and beads. (Fortunately, the T-shirt industry hadn’t been invented yet.)
UFO closed on October 6, killed by high rent and overheads.
The sad thing was that, by the time most young people got to hear what was happening, it was all over as far as public events went; just the commercial rip-off remained.
But Oz magazine, (which began in 1967), IT and many of the shops carried on, and by the summer the King’s Road was established as the main hippie boulevard, a tradition continued by punks a decade later.
The atmosphere was still there in Granny Takes a Trip, Hung On You and Dandy Fashion, where The Beatlesand Stones bought their frilly shirts, and in the Bagdad House over on Fulham Road, where you sat on cushions and sipped your tea – or went downstairs to smoke it.
Many of the ideas kept reverberating, and musically, a lot of good came out of it all. John Peel, whose ITcolumn ‘Perfumed Garden’ launched many important records, became a national DJ and brought the new music to a much greater audience.
The Pink Floyd, Jimi Hendrix and Eric Clapton (who were all playing clubs in 1967) became international stars, as did Pete Townshend, an early supporter of the underground scene. His wife, Karen, was the face on the poster for the first UFO.
Sgt Pepper’s, of course, became the anthem for the whole movement and transformed people’s lives all over the world, and as Nick Mason of the Floyd said years later: “It was a different world.”
1967 – CHRONOLOGY : A SPLENDID TIME WAS GUARANTEED FOR ALL
01: All Night Rave at The Roundhouse in London, featuring The Who, The Move, The Pink Floyd. “Psychedelicamania — come and watch the pretty lights,” says the poster.
Freak-out at San Francisco’s Winterland, featuring the Grateful Dead, Jefferson Airplane and Quicksilver Messenger Service.
14: The Human Be-In, Golden Gate Park, San Francisco — ‘The Gathering of the Tribes’. Allen Ginsberg,Jefferson Airplane, the Grateful Dead, The Sir Douglas Quintet, Timothy Leary and 20,000 hippies converge on the park to “celebrate life”.
“It was the media coverage of the Human Be-In that destroyed the spirit of Haight-Ashbury. The publicity precipitated a massive state-wide migration of America’s runaways, outcasts and outlaws, and with them the heavy drugs, speed especially. That was the beginning of the end of the Haight.”
Photographer Lisa law.
20: Granada TV film Pink Floyd at London’s UFO club (which had opened the previous month).
22: The Stones outrage the showbiz establishment by refusing to appear on the revolving stage after playingSunday Night At The London Palladium.
28: News Of The World starts five-part expose series on ‘Pop Stars And Drugs’.
05: Mick Jagger infers he may sue the News of The World for libel
12: Keith Richards house party is raided. Police arrest Jagger and Richards, remove substances for analysis and meet a Girl in A Rug.
17: The Beatles release Strawberry Fields Forever/Penny Lane.
03: Californian underground paper The Berkeley Barb announces that it is possible to get high by smoking bananas. Every greengrocer’s in San Francisco sells out overnight.
09: Offices of underground newspaper International Times in London are raided by police.
17: Jimi Hendrix’s Purple Haze is released.
26: Human Be-In in New York; Love-In in Los Angeles.
05: San Francisco’s Gray Line Bus Company launches Hippie Hop sightseeing tours of Haight-Ashbury. The Diggers announce the formation of a ‘Council for Summer of Love’ to look after the influx of teenage runaways.
06: Pink Floyd make their debut on Top Of The Pops, playing Arnold Layne. The Pink Floyd does not know what people mean by psychedelic pop and are not trying to cause hallucinatory effects on their audience,” says EMI’s press release.
08: Sandle Shaw wins Eurovision Song Contest with Puppet On A String.
15: 400,000 demonstrate against Vietnam War outside the United Nations building in New York.
22: The Who’s Pictures Of Lily is released.
29: The ’14 Hour Technicolor Dream’ takes place at London’s Alexandra Palace — a “free speech” benefit forInternational Times, the underground paper repeatedly raided and harassed by the police. An audience of 10,000 turn up to hear The Soft Machine, The Purple Gang, The Crazy World of Arthur Brown, The Pink Floyd,John’s Children (with Marc Bolan), numerous poets and ‘avant-garde artist’ Yoko Ono.
10: Following a police raid in February, Mick Jagger and Keith Richards are granted bail on drugs charges pending trial by jury. Brian Jones is arrested the same day, also on drugs charges.
11: Electric Music For The Mind And Body by Country Joe & The Fish is released.
12: Games For May – The Pink Floyd play London’s Queen Elizabeth Hall and shower the audience with daffodils.
25: John Lennon takes possession of a ‘psychedelic’ Rolls-Royce. Rolls-Royce voice their objections to the car’s colour scheme.
01: The Beatles’ Sgt Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band is released. A Day In The Life is banned by the BBC, who had probably spotted the cannabis plant on the album’s front cover.
UFO/International Times founder John (Hoppy) Hopkins is jailed for allowing cannabis to be smoked in his flat.
09: Scott McKenzie’s If You’re Going To San Francisco (Be Sure To Wear Some Flowers In Your Hair) is released.
16: The Monterey International Pop Festival begins in California — “Music, Flowers and Love,” say the posters. Among the bands appearing over the three-day event (the first major pop festival ever held) are: Country Joe & The Fish, Moby Grape, Jefferson Airplane, Booker T and the MG’s, Buffalo Springfield, Canned Heat,Quicksilver Messenger Service, Mike Bloomfield’s Electric Flag, Big Brother and the Holding Company (withJanis Joplin). Simon & Garfunkel, the Paul Butterfield Blues Band, Ravi Shankar, The Who, Otis Redding, theGrateful Dead and The Mamas & The Papas. Plus: Jimi Hendrix, his Experience and his Tin of Lighter Fuel. The entire event is filmed by D A Pennebaker and released later as Monterey Pop.
16: Pink Floyd’s See Emily Play is released.
16: Paul McCartney publicly admits to having taken LSD-25.
22: The trial of Mick Jagger and Keith Richards opens at Chichester Court. Jagger is charged with possession of amphetamines. Richards with allowing his house to be used for the smoking of cannabis resin.
25: The Beatles’ All You Need Is Love is recorded live at EMI’s London studio as part of a worldwide television transmission of the show Our World (estimated viewing audience of 400 million).
29: Jagger (sentenced to three months in prison) spends the night in Brixton Prison; Richards (sentenced to one year in prison) is in Wormwood Scrubs.
30: The Monkees play the first of five nights at Wembley Arena. They arrive on stage wearing black armbands in recognition of the Stones’ plight.
30: The Who release their versions of two Jagger/Richards songs – The Last Time and Under My Thumb – “to keep their work before the public until they are again free to record themselves.”
01: The Times runs an editorial (‘Who Breaks A Butterfly On A Wheel?’) denouncing Jagger’s sentence.
07: All You Need Is Love is released.
16: ‘Legalise Pot’ Rally in London’s Hyde Park.
24: “The law against marijuana is immoral in principle and unworkable in practice”. This full-page petition/advertisement appears in The Times, signed by (among others): all four Beatles, Brian Walden, Graham Greene, Jonathan Miller, David Dimbleby and Dr Sam Hutt (aka Hank Wangford). The cost of the ad is met by Paul McCartney.
27: Royal assent is given to the Sexual Offences Act (legalising homosexual acts between consenting adults).
31: In the London Appeal Court, Keith Richards’ conviction is quashed and Jagger is given a conditional discharged.
05: Pink Floyd’s debut album, The Piper At The Gates Of Dawn, is released.
09: Marc Bolan’s Tyrannosaurus Rex play their first gig.
13: Fleetwood Mac play their debut gig at Windsor Blues Festival.
14: Marine Broadcasting Act scuttles pirate radio; Radio London shuts down.
18: The Rolling Stones release We Love You.
26: The Beatles (and entourage) travel to Bangor, Wales, to study meditation with Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. Their sojourn with Sexy Sadie is cut short by the news of manager Brian Epstein’s death the next day.
05: The Beach Boys’ Smiley Smile album is released.
05: The Beatles announce they have given up drugs.
30: The Rolling Stones split from manager Andrew Loog Oldham.
02: The Grateful Dead are arrested in a drugs raid (and later acquitted).
04: The Who’s I Can See For Miles is released.
06: ‘Death of Hippie’ procession in San Francisco (on the first anniversary of LSD being declared illegal). A press release states that the Hippie will be replaced by “the Free Man”.
09: The first issue of Rolling Stone is published.
11: Harold Wilson successfully sues The Move for libel.
18: Premiere of How I Won The War starring John Lennon.
19: Joan Baez is arrested in an anti-draft demonstration in Oakland, California.
21: ‘Exorcism of the Pentagon’ demonstration in Washington DC. Norman Mailer and The Fugs are among the 100,000 protesters attempting to levitate the Pentagon. Other anti-Vietnam demonstrations take place in Paris, London and Bonn.
27: Royal assent is given to the Abortion Act and the Dangerous Drugs Act.
30: Brian Jones admits to possessing “Indian Hemp”, is sentenced to nine months’ imprisonment and spends the night in Wormwood Scrubs. He is released on bail the next day, after demonstrations outside the court.
14: The Beatles release Hello Goodbye/I Am The Walrus
Acid chemist Owsley arrested in possession of 868,000 trips (street value = $4.3 million)
Activists Abbie Hoffman, Jerry Rubin and Paul Krassner found the Youth International Party (Yippie) in the run-up to the American election the following year.
01: Hendrix releases Axis: Bold As Love.
07: The Beatles open their Apple Boutique in London’s Baker Street.
08: The Beatles’ Magical Mystery Tour double-DP is released.
13: Appeal Court sets Brian Jones’ sentence aside.
15: Middle Earth (UFO’s replacement) opens in London – Pink Floyd headline.
22: Christmas On Earth Revisited at London’s Olympia. Pink Floyd’s last gig with Syd Barrett. Hendrix andSoft Machine also play.
25: Paul McCartney announces his engagement to Jane Asher.
26: Magical Mystery Tour film is shown on BBC TV.