As I remember Monterey, Haight-Ashbury, and the Summer of Love

 

David Friedlander said it best.  Recently, he was interviewed by the Ventura Count Star as part of a retrospect on the Summer of Love.  Now keep in mind that David travels in good company as Chris Hillman of the Byrds was also interviewed for the same article.  David mentions that no sooner had the JBHS Class of ’67 graduated and returned from the all-night party at Disneyland when David, Ron Vasquez, Phillip Patton, and I jumped in Ron’s father’s pickup truck and headed north for the First Annual (and also last annual) Monterey International Pop Music Festival that was held June 16 – 18, 1967 at the Monterey County Fairgrounds.  What a crowd…a very nice crowd!  Once there, we met up with Donna Pentland and Linda Logan.  It was an experience that I will never forget.  We purchased the best tickets available…$6.50 (yes, we actually had ticketed seats) for each concert, and we ended up about 15 rows back from the stage.  What fun that was! 

 

When we weren’t at the concert venue we would wander around Monterey.  David and I recall being on one of the beaches when Eric Burdon rode up to us on a motorcycle.

 

The real thrill, though, was being at the concerts.  Each new act seemed better than the one before.  By the time we got to the last concert on Sunday we were wondering how it would all end.  I remember sitting in my seat and talking to David about the next band that was going to perform…The Who.  Their first U.S. performance was only 2 days earlier in San Francisco at the Filmore West.  I knew of their early hits and had heard someone else in the crowd mention that they could get a little wild on stage.  Wild…oh, yeah!  Their performance was electrifying.  Their set ended with My Generation.  As you might imagine, the whole scene exploded (literally).  We were all standing on our chairs, just trying to comprehend what we had just seen.  Then, once the stage was finally cleared and the pieces of broken guitars, drums and amps removed, out walks Jimi Hendrix.  Need I say more.  I still believe he was the only act that could follow The Who.  It all ended with Scott McKenzie, and the Mamas and Papas.  I can’t speak for the other guys, but I did not have a clue then as to the true magnitude of that 3-day event and how it would be remembered 40 years later.

 

Once the concerts were over, we jumped back into the pickup and headed to San Francisco.  Haight-Ashbury was, well, eclectic and crazy and fun.  It was what you made of it.  Several years later, and after a few years in the Army, I found myself back living in San Francisco and going to college.  My apartment was in the Sunset District which was close to ‘the Haight’.  Not much had changed by then…just a lot fewer young people.  My wife and I were back in San Francisco two years ago and, still, little has changed in the Haight.  I still get some of my t-shirts from a store there.

 

For some, the Summer of Love was a letdown.  For me, it was one of the best summers I have ever had.