1967. In many respects it was the high point of a new youth culture's emergence. The ideals of the so-called hippie era were new, held enormous promise for many young people, and got a moment of celebration in this window, before being tested more rigorously in the years that followed. If any one city is associated with the Summer of Love, it's San Francisco. The lessons that will come in this chapter focus on San Francisco and its central place in the story of a counterculture's emergence. Bands including the Jefferson Airplane, the Grateful Dead, the Charlatans, Quicksilver Messenger Service, and others were a crucial part of the wider culture that emerged. It was a culture of protest, of challenging mainstream values, of confrontational politics, and psychedelic leanings. Nothing associated with the "Establishment" was beyond the limits of the questioning that the counterculture put forward.

Amidst lessons on San Francisco and the growth of "hippie" culture, this chapter's materials will explore changes in the music — the growing interest in non-western traditions, for instance, spearheaded in many ways by the Beatles' George Harrison — and changes in how music, both live and recorded, was packaged. In many cases, the songs got longer, with guitar solos extended well beyond the usual Pop format, and the shows became "experiences," with lighting and sets becoming more central aspects. Major events, including the now-legendary Monterey Pop Festival, were showcases for the new sensibility associated with youth culture. In that window of time, careers were born quickly, and if you got on the right bill and had the right act, you could be a star almost overnight.

Amid the change and upheaval, Bill Graham's legendary shows at the Fillmore demonstrated that the hippies absorbed the heroes of earlier Rock and Roll culture — with the likes of Chuck Berry and B.B. King sharing bills with acts like the Grateful Dead.

View More


View Lesson

The San Francisco Scene, 1967

Why did nearly 100,000 young people descend upon San Francisco in 1967 for a “Summer of Love"?