June 1, 2017

20,000 Vinyl LPs 90: Scott McKenzie & The Summer of Love

Scott McKenzie ~ The Voice Of Scott McKenzie
front cover
photographer of cover photos unknown
photo of album cover by Styrous®

This year marks the 60th anniversary of The Summer of Love. One of the songs that epitomizes that magical time is San Francisco (Be Sure To Wear Flowers In Your Hair) sung by Scott McKenzie.  
The song was released as a single on May 13, 1967; it was included on the album, The Voice Of Scott McKenzie, which was released in December of 1967. It was produced and released by John Phillips, of The Mamas & the Papas, and Lou Adler who used it to promote their Monterey International Pop Music Festival held in June of that year.   

The tune informs the listener, "If you're going to San Francisco, be sure to wear some flowers in your hair". It is credited with bringing thousands of young people to San Francisco, California, to experience the wonder of the 'Flower Generation' and 'Flower Power'. (link to lyrics below). The expression was coined by the American beat poet Allen Ginsberg in 1965 as a means to transform war protests against the Vietnam War into peaceful affirmative spectacles which originated in Berkeley, California.        

Scott McKenzie ~ The Voice Of Scott McKenzie
front cover detail
detail photo by Styrous®

San Francisco was written by John Phillips of The Mamas & the Papas; he claims he wrote the song in about 20 minutes. Phillips played guitar on the recording and session musician Gary L Coleman played orchestra bells and chimes. The bass line of the song was supplied by session musician Joe Osborn. Hal Blaine played drums.        

San Francisco hit number 4 on the Billboard Hot 100 and number 2 in the Canadian RPM Magazine charts. It was also a number 1 in the UK and several other countries, selling over seven million copies globally.          

Scott McKenzie ~ The Voice Of Scott McKenzie
back cover
photographer of cover photos unknown
photo of album cover by Styrous®

San Francisco hit a nerve with people looking to protest what they saw as an unjust social order, and it rocketed to No. 4 on the pop charts. But despite the song’s success, McKenzie never had another hit single. He took a break from the music business and moved to Virginia Beach, Virginia.    

In the late 1980s McKenzie made a comeback of sorts. He toured with a reconstituted Mamas & the Papas and, with John Phillips, Mike Love and Terry Melcher, wrote, Kokomo, an upbeat love song that became a No. 1 hit for The Beach Boys.    

Scott McKenzie ~ The Voice Of Scott McKenzie
vinyl LP, side 1
photo by Styrous®

The song was covered by many people, Petula Clark (1967), Merrilee Rush & The Turnabouts (1968) and Tanya Tucker (1979). Even Led Zeppelin took a shot at it. I think it’s one of the Zeppelin’s few failures.  

In an interview, Ozzy Osbourne, of the English rock band Black Sabbath, once said, "And suddenly, you know, we hear about 'If you're going to San Francisco be sure to wear a flower in your hair'. And we're thinking, (contemptuously) 'What the fuck is San Francisco? Where is this? What's all this flower shit?

Scott McKenzie ~ The Voice Of Scott McKenzie
vinyl LP label detail, side 1
detail photo by Styrous®

Scott McKenzie was born Philip Blondheim on Jan. 10, 1939, in Jacksonville, Florida. He grew up in North Carolina and Virginia, where he became friends with the son of one of his mother's friends, John Phillips. In the mid-1950s, he sang briefly with Tim Rose in a high school group called The Singing Strings, and later with Phillips, Mike Boran, and Bill Cleary formed a doo wop band, The Abstracts.     
In 1961 Phillips and McKenzie met Dick Weissman and formed the folk group, The Journeymen, at the height of the folk music craze. In 1964, The Journeymen disbanded. McKenzie and Weissman became solo performers, while Phillips formed the group The Mamas & the Papas with Denny Doherty, Cass Elliot, and Michelle Phillips and moved to California.

Scott McKenzie ~ The Voice Of Scott McKenzie
vinyl LP, side 2
photo by Styrous®

Chris Campion, who is writing a biography of John Phillips, entitled, Walking on the Moon, interviewed McKenzie and said the singer had told him soldiers returning from Vietnam would sing the song on the airplane to San Francisco. He later became friends with some of those veterans and would tour the Vietnam Veterans Memorial with them. “He was grateful that he had the opportunity to have such an impact on their lives,” Mr. Campion said.    
Scott McKenzie, who performed the song which became a defining hit for the counterculture generation and helped draw tens of thousands to the Haight-Ashbury district for the Summer of Love, died on August 18, 2012, at his home in Los Angeles. He was 73.    
Scott McKenzie ~ The Voice Of Scott McKenzie
vinyl LP label detail, side 2
detail photo by Styrous®


Side 1:

1 - San Francisco (Be Sure To Wear Flowers In Your Hair), written by John Phillips * - 2:58

2 - Celeste, written by Donovan - 3:55

3 - It's Not Time Now, written by J. Sebastian*, Z. Yanovsky* - 2:45

4 - What's The Difference (Chapter II), written by  Scott McKenzie* - 2:41

5 - Reason To Believe, written by Tim Hardin* - 2:25

6 - Like An Old Time Movie, written by John Phillips* - 3:09

Side 2:

1 - No, No, No, No, No, written by G. Stephens*, Michel Polnareff* - 2:19

2 - Don't Make Promises, written by Tim Hardin* - 3:25

3 - Twelve-Thirty, written by John Phillips* - 3:55

4 - Rooms, written by John Phillips* - 3:25

5 - What's The Difference (Chapter I), written by Scott McKenzie* - 2:18

Companies, etc.

    Mastered At – Customatrix
    Distributed By – CBS Records
    Record Company – CBS Inc.


    Producer – John Phillips, Lou Adler


Tracklisting on the back cover is incorrectly ordered.
Barcode and Other Identifiers

    Matrix / Runout (Matrix A, on label): Z12 44002-1
    Matrix / Runout (Matrix B, on label): Z12 44002-2
    Matrix / Runout (Runout A etched / o stamped): ACZ-12-44002-1 o A3
    Matrix / Runout (Runout B etched / o stamped): ABZ12 44002-2 o A3
    Rights Society (A1, A6, B1, B3, B4): ASCAP
    Rights Society (A2 to A5, B2, B5): BMI

Scott McKenzie ‎– The Voice Of Scott McKenzie
Label: Ode Records (2) ‎– Z12 44002
Format: Vinyl, LP, Album, Stereo
Country: US
Released: Dec 1967
Genre: Rock, Pop
Style: Pop Rock, Psychedelic Rock

Net links:        
San Francisco (Be Sure to Wear Flowers in Your Hair lyrics          
Scott McKenzie website       
New York Times obituary         
YouTube links:                
San Francisco (Be Sure To Wear Flowers In Your Hair)    
         Scott McKenzie         
         Led Zeppelin          
         Petula Clark      
         Merrilee Rush & The Turnabouts  
         Tanya Tucker

Styrous® ~ Saturday, May 13, 1967       


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