The Frame

Movies, music, TV, arts and entertainment, straight from Southern California. Hosted by John Horn

The Summer of Love was about more than just music

by Jonathan Shifflett and The Frame Staff | The Frame

164379 full
Jefferson Airplane performing in 1967 at the Fantasy Fair and Magic Mountain Music Festival on Mount Tamalpais in Marin County, California. Helie Robertson

In the summer of 1967, music and popular culture changed forever. The Vietnam War and race riots caused the new generation to question social norms and the women's movement was burgeoning. The result was a counterculture that used music and art as a form of activism and protest.  

In the new book “1967: a complete rock music history of the Summer of Love,” writer and journalist Harvey Kubernik breaks down the iconic year through photographs and personal accounts. His interviews stretch back to the mid 1970's. "The oldest one is 1975 with Johnny Crash," Kubernik says, "Bill Graham, Jerry Garcia, Carlos Santana were done in 1976 in Mill Valley at Bill Graham's house."

The highlight of the Summer of Love was perhaps the Monterey Pop Festival, held between June 16th and 18th in 1967. The band line-up was a who’s who of the era’s most influential musicians. The music documentary of the festival by D.A. Pennebaker would go on to influence non-fiction filmmaking for years to come.

Author of "1967: A complete rock music history of the Summer of Love" Harvey Kubernik (Right) with poet Allen Ginsberg.
Author of "1967: A complete rock music history of the Summer of Love" Harvey Kubernik (Right) with poet Allen Ginsberg. Courtesy of Harvey Kubernik

Below are some highlights from The Frame's conversation with Harvey Kubernik.

Tech evolutions in the mid '60s set the stage for 1967's music and pop culture explosion.

A lot of things are changing even in '65 and '66. Households are getting their first color televisions pretty much. By '67, the album outsells the single format. FM radio was around before 1967 but largely for classic music and stuff like that. And so radio becomes central to the journey.

The women's movement influenced women performers in the 1960's:

By the 60s, women are at least getting to write songs, their own material, front bands the way jazz canaries sang in groups, but they become focal points. They become the energy source. And all of a sudden we start seeing Lydia Pense and Cold Blood and Janis Joplin with Big Brother and the Holding Company. You start seeing pop music, soul, R&B, you sing along to the girls more than you sing along to the guys.

The Monterey Pop Festival introduced Otis Redding to a wider audience and marked a turning point in his career before his untimely death in December of 1967.
The Monterey Pop Festival introduced Otis Redding to a wider audience and marked a turning point in his career before his untimely death in December of 1967. Courtesy of Atlantic Records

Pre-internet, the 1967 Monterey Pop Festival connected bands and audiences alike:

Lots of people in the audience — they knew about Big Brother (and the Holding Company), they knew about Quicksilver (Messenger Service), they knew about Jefferson Airplane because these groups had been around six months to a year, a year and a half already. But there was no internet back then. They were a regional phenomena. So there are artists like Laura Nyro (New York) or even the Paul Butterfield Blues Band (Chicago) that play at Monterey that people haven't really heard. Then, in the case of Otis Redding (Memphis) — he had played once before in San Francisco in '66 and comes back with this Stax band and Booker T. behind him and basically galvanizes everybody. Jefferson Airplane had a light show onstage and so that even amplifies Otis' set because they kept the light show up, so Otis is singing and projecting against a light show. And that is psychedelic, my friends! So all of this was colliding, and by the weekend after Monterey, the world had changed.

Ravi Shankar's performance at the Monterey Pop Festival was an example of how the organizers curated a wide range of talent.
Ravi Shankar's performance at the Monterey Pop Festival was an example of how the organizers curated a wide range of talent. Courtesy of the Ravi Shankar Kinara School of Music

Listen to 'Iconic performances from the Monterey International Pop Festival:'

To hear John Horn's interview with Harvey Kubernik, click on the player above.

blog comments powered by Disqus

Enjoy The Frame? Try KPCC’s other programs.

What's popular now on KPCC

X