Tartan Heart Festivals, Hippies and the Summer Of Love

Exactly 50 years ago, in 1967, the “hippies” of North America (and other parts of the world) converged on Haight-Ashbury, San Francisco, wearing flowers in their hair. It was the infamous Summer Of Love which has cropped up on these pages often as although I was only aged seven that year, it seems to be a year I have a great fondness for when it comes to revisiting the “tracks of my years”. All sorts of reasons for this which have already been covered but one that hadn’t really occurred to me until recently was that children of six and under generally have a very early bedtime (I know I did), so any opportunity to watch music shows of any kind on telly would have been an impossibility. Looking back now I have a pretty good memory for music from 1967 onwards as that would have been the year it would have been deemed reasonable for me to stay up “late” to watch shows such as Top of the Pops, an absolute must for kids of my generation.

Many songs were written that year referring to this mass migration of up to 100,000 young people to Haight-Ashbury, the most obvious being Scott McKenzie’s San Francisco. I don’t however seem to have that one in my digital library but I do have Let’s Go To San Francisco by British band The Flower Pot Men. As ever I have learnt something new, as I had always taken it forgranted that they were American – The song, a one-hit wonder, very much imitated the style of Brian Wilson, and could easily have been mistaken for a Beach Boys one.

Let’s Go To San Francisco by The Flower Pot Men:

As I’ve also mentioned many times, the Summer of Love never came to my small Scottish village, and if it had, my dad and his fellow civic-minded friends would probably have had something to say about it. It did however, infiltrate the student body of Aberdeen, a city we drove to every other Saturday so that my dad could watch his beloved Aberdeen FC and my mum could do some shopping (with me in tow – grrr). The car park we used was very near the University and right across the street was the building that housed the Students’ Union. It was the social hub of University life where there were bars, dining halls, venues for concerts and little shops selling supplies that are probably no longer needed for the modern-day student, such as pads of foolscap paper, pencils, pocket files and even, books.

This building had a steady stream of “hippies” leave and enter as we passed by and to me they looked just like the singers and groups I loved to watch on Top of the Pops. They had long hair, little round glasses, guitars, even Afghan coats – One day I thought to myself, I want to be just like them, although I definitely kept that plan to myself as my parents used to make it quite clear that come the hour, they wouldn’t want to see me stumble out of that door on Schoolhill a bit worse for the wear and high on plant life. As it turned out I did stumble out of that door frequently over a decade later but the hippie era was long gone by then and new wave had taken its place. Fortunately my parents didn’t see me however, as the black lipstick (it makes your teeth look awful by the way) and nail varnish, complete with leopard spot garments would not have gone down well. Don’t get me wrong, my parents were wonderful and I had a charmed childhood, but they were not what you would have called “open-minded”.

So, where is all this going I hear you ask? – Next weekend a mini Glastonbury (about a tenth of the size in terms of numbers) will be held just a few miles west of where we live and they have a Summer of Love theme going on this year. Darling daughter and her friends have all acquired “flowers for their hair” and are heading along for the whole camping experience. Mr WIAA and I on the other hand will watch on telly, BBC Alba to be precise, which means the presenters are Gaelic speakers and we won’t even understand what they are saying, but the music will still be great. I do feel a bit aggrieved in that I missed the whole Summer of Love experience first time around because I was too young, and just as there was a resurgence of interest in staging festivals, I was kind of too old and had responsibilities. I really don’t think my middle-aged bones and Mr WIAA’s bladder could cope with the whole camping experience now, especially if it rains, but we do enjoy experiencing it vicariously via the young people.

Our mini Glastonbury is called the Belladrum Tartan Heart Festival and looking at the line-up, the band that jumps out at me first is the Pretenders. That would be because they appeared at our aforementioned Students’ Union in 1979, the week they were at No.1 in the UK Singles Chart with Brass In Pocket. A fortuitous booking had obviously been made some time before by the incumbent Union President – Oh yes, that would have been Sky News reporter Glen Oglaza. Back then however (and I really wish I could find a picture but I can’t) he looked just like Frank Zappa. It was 1979 but he was still sporting the look of a Summer of Love hippie. What happened to the hair Glen?

My friend Stuart worked on the student newspaper, The Gaudie, which is the oldest in the UK apparently and got the sought after gig of interviewing Ms Hynde before she went on stage. Chrissie Hynde is one of those timeless looking ladies, a rock chick whose style has changed very little over the decades. Sadly that evening she had decided to cut her trademark long fringe and it had all gone horribly wrong – She was not in the best of moods and the interview was not quite as exciting for the interviewer, as it should have been. A lesson was obviously learnt that night as I don’t remember ever seeing her with anything other the style shown below – She found her look early on and stuck with it.

th0HA57ZTG
Chrissie Hynde with her trademark long fringe

As for darling daughter’s pick for the weekend, she is most looking forward to Twin Atlantic – Not so much psychedelic rock but alternative rock, of the Glaswegian variety. I was introduced to them by her this week and have to say, I am mighty impressed. Last year we had The Proclaimers at Belladrum, those heavily accented twin brothers from Auchtermuchty. This year we are going to have the heavily accented Twin Atlantic – Perfect. Their most successful chart hit so far has been Heart and Soul from 2014 and I look forward to watching them perform it from the comfort of my sofa next weekend!

So, What’s it all about? – One of these days I will have to bite the bullet and head along to Belladrum, just so that I can tick it off the bucket list. I may well need that bucket along with me however as it does have a history of being quite a rain-soaked festival. I could collect water in it to make tea and to wash my hair. It could also be handy for Mr WIAA’s middle-aged bladder (although not all at the same time of course).

I doubt if many of the young people know much at all about the Summer of Love of fifty years ago but no matter, they are young and need to experience everything for the first time, their way. Mobile phones feature heavily at festivals nowadays which would have been inconceivable 50 years ago – No selfies with Frank, Janis, Jimi or Grace back in the day but who knows, maybe Glen Oglaza did get a picture taken with Chrissie Hynde in 1979, before she cut her fringe. Wonder if they keep in touch!

Let’s Go To San Francisco (Belladrum?) Lyrics
(Song by John Carter/Ken Lewis)

Let’s go (let’s go) to San Francisco (let’s go to San Francisco)
Where the flowers grow (flowers grow)
So very high (so high)
Sunshine (sunshine) in San Francisco
(Sunshine in San Francisco)
Makes your mind grow up to the sky.

Lots of sunny (lots of) sunny people
Walking hand in hand(walking hand in hand)
Then a (then a) funny people (funny people)
They have found (they have found) their land.

Let’s go (let’s go) to San Francisco (let’s go to San Francisco)
Where the flowers grow (flowers grow)
So very high (so high)
Sunshine (sunshine) in San Francisco
(Sunshine in San Francisco)
Makes your mind grow up to the sky.

Lots of sunny (lots of) sunny people
Walking hand in hand(walking hand in hand)
Then a (then a) funny people (funny people)
They have found (they have found) their land.

 

Author: Alyson

Whenever I hear an old song on the radio, I am immediately transported back to those days - I know I'm not alone here and want to record those memories for myself and for the people in them. 50 years ago the song "Alfie" was recorded for the film of the same name and I'm hoping that by writing this blog, I might finally work out the answer to his question, "What's it all about?"

17 thoughts on “Tartan Heart Festivals, Hippies and the Summer Of Love”

  1. Hi Alyson,
    I really enjoyed this post and was happy to see that you’re revisiting “my” era’s songs again. As for festivals, I attended the Toronto Rock ‘n’ Roll Revival at Varsity Stadium here, which featured surprise guests John Lennon & Yoko Ono (the Plastic Ono Band.) In addition, I have an hilarious story about my (attempted) trek to the Woodstock Festival that I will post someday on my blog.

    More please! 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Marie – Good to hear from you. Yes I think a lot of us are harking back to The Summer of Love this year it being the 50th anniversary. I don’t think our little local festival will be quite the same in that it’s quite cold up here and lots of layers of clothing are required – Looking at the line-up though it will be great for all those who go along.

      You have alluded to your failed attempt to trek to Woodstock before and I look forward to reading about it some day – Looking back these were momentous moments in history so good to have people’s personal experiences recorded for posterity.

      This post might start me on a late ’60s thread again so hopefully more will be coming your way!

      Like

  2. Belladrum sounds great.

    A couple of years ago I started looking at various musicians’ websites to find out what their touring schedules are like. I was amazed by the number of outdoor festivals I ran across. Incredible numbers in the USA and Europe. Most I’d never heard of.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You are right – There are just so many nowadays yet just when I was the right age for such revelry there were hardly any! I will really have to get my act together one of these years though. The camping side of it freaks me out to be honest (I won’t mention the nickname the non-family site gets, but it is reminiscent of a war zone!), but, if the weather was ok it would probably be fine. No day trippers sadly, it’s all or nothing.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. The Summer of 1967 in Aberdeen was FAB. Within the space of a couple of months at no less a place than the city’s Beach Ballroom, I attended gigs by…….wait for it……(*drum roll*)…….Pink Floyd – complete with Syd Barrett – Cream and The Who. As that bloke Wordsworth said: “Bliss was it in that dawn to be alive, But to be young was very heaven!”

    Ps – my mate Charlie is just back from the Southern Fried Festival in Perth and is raving about Nick Lowe’s Friday night set, but even more about last night’s set by Chuck Prophet (former lead guitarist with the mighty Green On Red). I am puce with envy.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ah, the Beach Ballroom – I get all nostalgic when you mention these places. That was quite a summer you had in ’67 then, and you didn’t even have to go to San Francisco to experience it. The North Sea winds blowing in across the Beach Boulevard however would have ensured the keeping on of clothing I imagine – Oh to be young again as per the Wordsworth quote.

      My memories are much more from the Capitol Theatre and I will get round to them eventually. The old Students’ Union Building is long gone now but some great acts appeared there over the years, sometimes “just before they got famous”.

      Like

      1. I seem to recall that America played the Aberdeen Uni Union the same week as “Horse With No Name” reached #1 in the UK charts. I saw a lot of acts there but I preferred the Aberdeen College of Education Union which had bands such as Brinsley Schwarz, Man, Chilli Willi and The Red Hot Peppers and the 1st ever live gig by the Sensational Alex Harvey Band. ACE Union had booked the Glasgow band Tear Gas and Alex had been rehearsing with them. He joined the band onstage for the 2nd half of the show and blew the place apart with cover versions like Del Shannon’s 1961 hit “Runaway”.

        By the by – it wasn’t that cold down by Aberdeen Beach back in 67. You have to remember that in those days, the sun always shone during the summer!

        Looking forward to your memories of Capitol nights – saw some great bands there throughout the 70’s and 80’s. Did you ever go to “The Venue” down on the Shiprow at all?

        Liked by 1 person

        1. America – That group of lads from Ruislip! Good memories though and thanks for sharing them with us.

          You are right of course, it was always sunny at Aberdeen beach when you were a kid and I remember thinking nothing of going in for a swim (got some really bad sunburn as well in those days before sunscreen – a ticking time bomb now apparently).

          I had a friend who had a flat in Shiprow so we went to the Drift Inn but I’m drawing a blank at The Venue – maybe it was called something else in my day? I remember a place at the bottom of Adelphi and one round the corner from the cinema at the end of Union Street but am forgetting their names – So long ago!

          Like

  4. Another excellent memory post, Alyson. One question though….when you went to Aberdeen with your parents and you had to go shopping with your mum, would you have rather been at the football with dad? (Personally, I’d rather have gone shopping! But don’t tell any of our fellow blogging chums I said that. I might lose even more cred.)

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I was very young at the time and on the odd occasion I did go to the football with my dad, it was not the best experience – Stadiums were not all-seaters in those days and not very family friendly so when my dad tackled the chap next to us about his level of swearing there was an ugly moment! As for the shopping it was all very practical involving the M&S food hall and department stores – I just wanted to go to the toy shops. Although again there was once an ugly scene when a woman grabbed my hand and walked out of the toy shop with me – She thought it was her little boy’s hand she’d grabbed (I had very short hair back then) – It’s all very well telling kids not to talk to strangers but I happily went off with her as you just trust that the adults know what they’re doing and are in charge.

      So, in reply to your question, probably neither – Staying at home and playing with friends would have been the preferred option. We’ll keep quiet about your aversion to football though. For the record Mr WIAA is the same despite my late dad’s best efforts.

      Like

  5. Lovely stuff! There is something about the year 1967 that seems really special in music and culture, the one that perhaps most symbolises what I think of as the sixties, at least the sixties referred to in that quote about if you can remember them you can’t have been there – the free love sort of sixties! (Also love that lynchiefromab saw Syd Barrett-era Pink Floyd, Cream and the Who, by the way). I love your memories and remember having some similar ones too – slightly later as I only just turned 4 in the Summer of ’67 but certainly being very in awe of the lovely young things who wandered around town a couple of years later in their long hair, beads, sandals, maxi dresses, bangles, etc. My home town, although quite small, was quite groovy and had a hippie café where they all used to hang out and my mum (who would’ve definitely been a hippie if she’d been any younger) was friendly with the owner who wore loads of black kohl around her eyes and was the epitome of a hippie-chick. So she used to take me in there, as part of the weekly shopping trip (always for an omelette) which made it a lot better than yours perhaps was for you!
    I’m hoping you might find a photo of Glen as he used to be. I’m trying to imagine him with the Zappa look.
    Also, did you see any footage of the Pretenders at Glastonbury this year? Chrissie has managed to stay looking so cool and youthful still, I was really pleased to see her doing her thing so well. Perhaps the fringe helped!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, if you had to pin down a year that really symbolised the “free love” kind of sixties, it would be 1967. By 1969 it had started to go horribly wrong but it still grieves me that I was born just too late for it all. Good for you having a mum who was of that persuasion and for her having a friend with a groovy (love that word) café. Our village had no groovy cafés but we did have a fish and chip shop with a jukebox in the main square and there was big excitement one evening when a guy in a cape (with the high neck) came along to hang out there!

      So annoyed I couldn’t find pictures of the young Oglaza as they must be out there somewhere – Thinking there might even be something in the archive box I intend to share once I go through it. Soon!

      Yes I saw some Pretenders footage and was pleased that they got such a great response – Chrissie Hynde never seems to change that much and she has definitely kept her figure otherwise those trademark skin-tight jeans just wouldn’t work for her. The trademark long fringe, as you say, must help.

      Like

  6. Funny the Sky News reporter looked like Zappa 🙂 I remember McKenzie’s San Francisco song was feat. on Forrest Gump soundtrack in the 90s, the film (partly set in the 60s) did a wonderful job of bringing back the classics.
    I recently almost splashed out on a boxset of Pretenders 80s albums, but figured I love their hits more than the studio albums, so I went with an Emmylou Harris coll. instead.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I do have a soft spot for both the film Forrest Gump and for Forrest himself – McKenzie’s song left the viewer in no doubt as to which year of his life was being covered. Well remembered!

      Yes, when it comes to boxsets I think I would have gone for Emmylou too.

      Like

  7. Hi Alyson, Thank you for your lovely piece on Belladrum Tartan Heart Festival. We are all working away to get the site ready for Bella opening this Thursday, so can’t wait for our 14th year! I agree, you need to tick Bella off your bucket list one year and see all the fun you’re missing 🙂

    Thanks again, Team Bella x

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Lovely to hear from you – my daughter and her friends are making their plans as I type! You are right we must plan ahead next year and get tickets early – been too tardy of late.

      Have a great festival – we’ll be watching on telly 🌼🌺

      Like

I'd Love To Hear From You And I Always Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s