History of the Haight Ashbury Music Scene
by Alex Cosper (3/26/15)
The Haight Ashbury music scene did not develop until several flower power-minded bands moved to San Francisco in the late sixties. Several of these artists migrated from the New York and Los Angeles music scenes. But there were also artists who came from all over the United States, such as Janis Joplin frmo Texas and Steve Miller from Wisconsin. Part of what made the San Francisco music scene blossom and become the new capital of the peace and love movement was the rise of concert promoter Bill Graham, who helped paint the Bay Rea as a center for progressive youth.
One of the earliest bands on the scene in Haight Ashbury was the Jefferson Airplane. The band became nearly synomyous with the anti-war movement with songs such as "Volunteers." Singer Grace Slick has fronted an earlier Bay Area band called the Great Society. She was the daughter of a wealthy banker named Ivan Wing, who moved the family around the country before settling in Palo Alto in the early 1950s. Although Slick attended college in New York and Florida in the late fifties, she returned to the Bay Area to pursue her musical interests.
Slick named the Great Society after President Johnson's social reform program. The band started experimenting with psychedelic music in 1965. The band released a single of "Somebody To Love" in 1966. It would later be rerecorded and become a national top ten hit for Jeffereson Airplane a few years later. The group's song "White Rabbit" also became part of the Airplane's repertoire after Slick joined them in 1967.
The other seminal group of the Haight Ashbury music scene that erupted in the late sixties was the Grateful Dead. The band started off as The Warlocks in 1965. By the end of the year they had changed their name to the Grateful Dead. Their first show using the new name was one of Ken Kesey's notorious acid tests. They became a reguiar favorite at the Fillmore Auditorium, where Bill Graham promoted shows. By 1967 the band was pretty well known in the Bay Area, playing regularly at venues such as the Avalon Ballroom.
A head shop called the Psychedelic Shop opened in January 1966, giving hippies the green light to market counter-culture in the Haight district. The following year the song "San Francisco" recording by Scott McKenzie became an anthem and commerical for hippies to head to San Francisco. The single, written by John Phillips of the Mamas and the Papas, was released in May 1967 and was a national hit by summer, which eternally became known as "The Summer of Love." Several bands exploded from the San Francisco scene as the Bay became the new capital of the peace and love movement.
GRATEFUL DEAD - The Golden Road
JEFFERSON AIRPLANE - White Rabbit
STEVE MILLER BAND - Space Cowboy
BIG BROTHER & THE HOLDING COMPANYPiece of My Heart -
CREEDENCE CLEARWATER REVIVAL - Run Through the Jungle
MOBY GRAPE - Murder In My Heart For the Judge
SANTANA - Oye Como Va
BEAU BRUMMELS - Laugh, Laugh
BLUE CHEER - Summertime Blues
CHOCOLATE WATCH BAND - Are You Gonna Be There (At the Love-In)
COUNTRY JOE AND THE FISH - Fixin' To Die Rag
CANNED HEAT - Going Up the Country
SCOTT McKENZIE - San Francisco (Be Sure To Wear Some Flowers In Your Hair)
IT'S A BEAUTIFUL DAY - White Bird
QUICKSILVER MESSENGER SERVICE - Fresh Air
SLY & THE FAMILY STONE - Everyday People
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