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San Francisco, 1967: The Summer Of Love And The Grateful Dead

Culture | November 29, 2016

Right: Hippies at the corner of Haight and Ashbury Streets on May 4, 1967. (Photo by Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images). Left: Cover art for the Gratevul Dead's self-titled debut album, released 1967. Source: Amazon

The summer of 1967 was the "Summer of Love," an explosion of hippie spirit and groovy ideals that occurred in San Francisco and sent shockwaves outward for the years that followed. The Summer Of Love's epicenter was the Haight-Ashbury district, and its house band was the Grateful Dead.

The hippie movement had been picking up steam as more and more young Americans began to question authority and convention. Why dress as our parents tell us? Why follow their rules? What if there's a better way of living and higher consciousness to be discovered? Their questionings and explorations led them to create new art, ponder taboo ideas, and indulge in plenty of sex and drugs. San Francisco became a Mecca -- people traveled from across the United States and even Europe to take in the Haight Ashbury scene.

Gathering Of The Tribes For A Human Be-In

Poster for the Human Be-In by Stanley Mouse. Source: Pinterest

A key event leading up to the Summer Of Love occurred in January 1967, the Gathering Of The Tribes/Human Be-In rally held in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park. The rally communicated ideas of the '60s counterculture such as cultural and political decentralization, personal empowerment, dropping out, and ecological awareness. Why was this even held in San Francisco in the first place? Well, this hippie movement came about from the dissatisfaction of student communities around the University of California, Berkeley and Stanford University. Thousands showed up, fostering a spirit of unity among these young, questing adults.

Heart Of The Love

The corner of Haight and Ashbury streets. Source: allthatsinteresting.com

The hippie movement in San Francisco cannot be talked about without discussing the headquarters of the movement, the Haight-Ashbury district. Here students gathered to be with their fellow hippies celebrating the counterculture. It is said that over 100,000 young people made their way to the Haight-Ashbury district in the summer of 1967. Word on the street is this mass migration used the title of “Summer of Love” in hopes of putting a positive spin on the free thinking, love making, drug taking hippie culture

The Grateful Dead

Originally known as Warlocks, The Grateful Dead came on the scene by being part of Ken Kesey’s Acid Test parties. Kesey’s parties included his posse the Merry Pranksters and featured, among others, The Grateful Dead as the house band. These parties allowed the public to experiment with LSD (which was not only legal at the time, but also free thanks to Kesey) and enjoy music, dancing, and of course strobe lights. Everything about the hippie movement was embraced at these parties.

Tripping With The Dead

The Grateful Dead in 1967. Source: Reddit

The Grateful Dead were also a part of the Trips Festival in late 1966, thanks to Kesey. It was a three night rock n’ roll fest held at Longshoreman’s Hall in San Francisco’s North Beach. Of course there was also free access to LSD because it wouldn’t be a Kesey party if there weren’t. More than 6,000 attended this festival gaining more traction for the overall movement. The Grateful Dead continued to be part of this movement with their participation in the Gathering of the Tribes a.k.a. The Human Be-In rally.

710 Ashbury Street

710 Ashbury St. Source: on-this-day.info

In order to play such a monumental role in this movement The Grateful Dead had to be located nearby. They lived and breathed the San Francisco Hippie Movement because they lived in the heart of it, the Haight-Ashbury district. 710 Ashbury Street is exactly where The Grateful Dead resided amongst their fellow hippies. It was also probably convenient to be living in an area where you could easily buy LSD and marijuana because there was a local Psychedelic Shop. Eventually the Haight-Ashbury district became overcrowded and homelessness and drug related health issues became a problem that would slowly bring an end to the heart of the San Francisco Hippie Movement. 

Tags: 1967 | A Brief History Of... | Jerry Garcia | Ken Kesey | San Francisco In The 1960s | The Grateful Dead

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Brianna Quezada

Writer

Historically Brianna has had a passion for all things social media and pop culture, no matter the decade. In the summer she can be found at the beach and in the winter, the happiest place on earth. The combination of these two places reflect her mellow-jubilant spirit. Can you dig it?