The Summer of Love has a rich tapestry of definitions. So many things were happening Haight Ashbury was the Holy Grail for free love, expanded consciousness and the ecstatic experience. That summer marked the beginning of a children's crusade that would save America and the world from the ravages of war, and the inner anger that brings it forth, and materialism. The youth of the day identified their lives with the world as a political and social entity, and the planet as a unified environment, an earth household. Love, would replace fear and small communal groups would replace the patriarchal family and mass alienation. There were two aspects to the experience of the 60s: the resistance to the war, and the "psychedelic experience", personified as political activists and hippies. As a society America has tried to understand the sixties mostly as political resistance to the war, but has been slow to acknowledge the changes in values and culture brought about by "psychedelic experiences".

Tripping was common in every area of society from the wealthy and politically powerful to the arts, and sciences and the media. LSD was trendy, exotic, ecstatic, messianic and dangerous. It promise was psychological healing and spiritual transcendence. It also caused devastating pain "bad trips," psychotic breaks, and suicides, and in the case of the Manson Family, an accomplice to murder. There was an aura of living dangerously on a psychological frontier that was part of an alluring mystique.

Why did so many take this dangerous journey? The answer can be found somewhere among Haight Ashbury, the Hippies during this Summer of Love. The overall perception among the Hippies from 1965 through the summer of '67 was that they were witnessing the dawning of a new age. An age that vaulted western man into the domination and potential destruction of creation. Gandhi and Martin Luther King were the heroes and the youth turned to the rich heritage of Asian mysticism and metaphysics for inspiration and practice. Crossing oceans and time to pre-Christian mythologies like the American Indian, the Egyptian and the occult and pagan philosophies of Europe. They studied with Buddhists and Indian gurus, native shamans, witches and yogis and turned from Aristotelian and Christian dualism to the four pronged logic of Vedanta philosophy. They studied the Upanishads, the Tao Te Ching, Alan Watt's books on Zen Buddhism, and Hermann Hesse's novels, especially Siddhartha. They wouldn't leave the house without consulting the I Ching, or Tarot cards or astrological charts. They were becoming world citizens. Peace and love were not just slogans but states of mind and experiences and they were living and bearing witness to them. Living in harmony with the earth was an ideal that was felt and perceived as real experience, bringing forth a second Renaissance that would change world culture.

The Summer of Love was the apex of the Haight Ashbury experience. Over 100,000 youth came to the Haight. Hoards of reporters, movie makers, FBI agents, undercover police, drug addicts, provocateurs, Mafioso and about 100,000 more tourists to watch them all followed in their wake. It was chaotic and wonderful and heavy as they used to say. In the end the police raided the street every weekend gradually scattering the originators to all parts of the world to plant their seeds of change and set the stage for Women's' Liberation, Black Liberation and many more to come. There are moments in history that usher in a new dawn, an awakening of the mind and the spirit. In America it was during the Sixties; that moment was the summer of '67.

We are here to make a better world.
No amount of rationalization or blaming can preempt the moment of choice each of us brings to our situation here on this planet. The lesson of the 60's is that people who cared enough to do right could change history.
We didn't end racism but we ended legal segregation.
We ended the idea that you could send half-a-million soldiers around the world to fight a war that people do not support.
We ended the idea that women are second-class citizens.
We made the environment an issue that couldn't be avoided.
The big battles that we won cannot be reversed. We were young, self-righteous, reckless, hypocritical, brave,silly, headstrong and scared half to death.
And we were right.

Abbie Hoffman


  • Summer of Love in San Francisco. Hippie and Haight-Ashbury become household words.
  • June 16-18. Monterey Pop Festival sets the mood of the "Summer Of Love."
  • September 17. Before appearing on The Ed Sullivan Show, Doors lead singer Jim Morrison promised to change line "Girl, we couldn't get much higher" in the song "Light My Fire." When the cameras were rolling, however, Morrison ignored his promise.
  • October 21. - Thousands of anti-war protestors stormed the Pentagon during a rally against the Vietnam War in Washington, D.C. About 250 were arrested. No shots were fired, but demonstrators were struck with nightsticks and rifle butts.
In 1967, television shows, Star Trek and movies like The Graduate reflected the new spirit of idealism and its hallmark was the music. Some of it came from folk tradition, some had a harder rock edge with roots in everything from blues to a new sound born of the Beach Boys by their Pet Sounds album and continued by the Beatles with Sgt. Pepper'.

Music reflected the growing domestic conflict of the War in Vietnam, the experiments with drugs, continuing civil rights struggle. A maturing of the British Sound, groups like The Who and new regional sounds, notably from Los Angeles; The Byrds, Steppenwolf and San Francisco arose.

"Progressive" rock radio, played album cuts, flourished in cities like New York, Boston and San Francisco at the same time that "Top 40" or "hit radio" continued playing pop singles from groups like The Monkees or The Mamas and Papas.

The Beatles Strawberry Fields Forever sparked a mystery when rumors began that some could hear the message, "I Buried Paul," when it was played backwards. Leading many to believe that Paul McCartney was dead. The Beatles claimed it said, "Cranberry Sauce!"

The artists who had performed in the mid-June, 1967 Monterey International Pop Festival, just 2 hours south of San Francisco, included Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, The Dead and The Who, in their first ever U.S. appearance and helped orchestrate the Summer of Love, too, as did Scott McKenzie's "San Francisco..." Eric Burdon's "Down in Monterey" and "San Franciscan Nights," and The Jefferson Airplane's "Somebody to Love."

1967 also saw the spectacular emergence of The Doors and their mega-hit, "Light My Fire." Jim Morrison had founded the group with fellow UCLA graduates and got the name from Aldoux Huxley's book The Doors of Percerption.

Take a look at this snapshot of this moment in time; the Top 5 songs of the weekly Top 40 as well as the album artists of 1967 follows. Enjoy yer trip;)

  • The Monkees: Daydream Believer, Pleasant Valley Sunday
  • The Doors: Light My Fire, Strange Days
  • Aretha Franklin:Respect
  • Steppenwolf
  • The Young Rascals: Groovin'
  • The Mamas & Papas:Creeque Alley, Words of Love, Dedicated To One I Love
  • The Turtles: Happy Together
  • The Byrds
  • The Association: Windy, Never My Love
  • The Jefferson Airplane: Surrealistic Pillow, Somebody to Love, White Rabbit
  • Peter, Paul and Mary: Album 1700
  • Buckinghams: Kind of a Drag
  • The Supremes: The Happening
  • Scott McKenzie: San Francisco (Wear Some Flowers In Your Hair)
  • Rolling Stones: Ruby Tuesday
  • Strawberry Alarm Clock: Incense and Peppermint
  • The Cowsills: The Rain, The Park and Other Things
  • Jimi Hendrix
  • Bob Dylan
  • Buffalo Springfield: For What It's Worth
  • The 5th. Dimension: Up, Up & Away
  • Electric Prunes: I Had Too Much to Dream Last Night
  • Bill Cosby: Revenge
  • The Who: I Can See For Miles
  • Laura Nyro
  • The Beatles: Sgt.Pepper, All You Need is Love, Penny Lane
  • Frankie Valli and 4 Seasons: Can't Take My Eyes Off You
  • The Boxtops: The Letter
  • Lulu: To Sir, With Love
  • Procol Harum:A Whiter Shade of Pale
  • Tommy James & The Shondells: I Think We're Alone Now

    Selected Sources:

    Additional Notes on the S.F. Oracle