June 30, 2017
When I take my music-loving, curious passengers out for an afternoon of rollicking fun on my I’m With the Band Rock Tours in Hollywood, I’m always struck by their wide-eyed fascination with the “classic” rockers that enhanced my youthful days and nights. It’s almost as if my stories couldn’t have really happened, and I try to become an objective observer, even as I recall traipsing around town with these now mythological creatures. Here’s where I performed a perfect backbend for the Lizard King, here’s where Frank Zappa composed his brilliant ditties while I gazed in awe, and this is the place where I sat enthralled at the Wild Horses recording session…
It’s been fifty-two years since I headed over the hill from Reseda to Hollywood, first to the Palladium to meet Captain Beefheart at the Second Annual Teen Fair, (what a trip!) then further west to the Sunset Strip where I milled joyously among a thousand like-minded, or should I say love-minded teenagers. We actually handed flowers to cops and believed we could change the whole world with our open hearts. I graduated from Cleveland High the Summer of ’66 and soon I was heavily ensconced in the scene, dancing with a troupe of madcap freaks, led by the notorious, sprightly, slightly dangerous, Vito Paulekas. His sidekick was a grinning, frizz-haired, fellow called Captain F**k, his cape emblazoned with a giant ‘F.’ I also met a gaggle of groovy girls who would later loom large in my life when we joined forces and became the GTOs – Girls Together Outrageously.
1967 has long been called the Summer of Love and for me, that’s exactly what it was. I was smack dab in the thick of it, hitchhiking up and down the coast to experience the mind-blowing unity of Haight-Ashbury, the communes in Oakland, the long-haired peace-niks in Berkley. I marched against hate, danced half-naked, and was magically in San Francisco for the Human-Be-In, the first massive hippie “gathering of the tribes.” I sat spellbound at the feet of Allen Ginsberg while he intoned insistent truths, became part of a hand-holding daisy-chain, and made goo-goo eyes with the singer in Quicksilver Messenger Service. I never missed a Love-In in Los Angeles, and wound up on a poster in the windows of all the head shops, wearing a peek-a-boo lace tablecloth with my fave gal, Sparky.
The word Groupie hadn't been dreamt up yet, but I was well on my way, mad for the music and various members of my favorite local bands, The Byrds, Love, Buffalo Springfield, Iron Butterfly. The sounds and words were all new. Dylan led the parade with his potent, profound lyrics, The Stones were making the girls giddy with lust. No band had ever sounded like the Doors before. The Who. The Kinks. The Jimi Hendrix Experience. Big Brother and the Holding Company. The Beatles went to India to meditate, and brought the East to the West, which sent out cosmic shock waves that will forever reverberate.
My longtime friend, Danny Goldberg has written an entire book on the year 1967, In Search of the Lost Chord, which goes deeply into the racial tension, political unrest, the horrible war we all railed against, and the mind-altering psychedelic explosion, along with the unprecedented music being created. If you want the full flavor and intensity of that bygone year, I highly recommend Danny’s brilliantly researched tome -- but at age eighteen what I believed in was the transformative power of love. The Beatles told me that love was all we needed, and I was bursting at the velvet seams with pure and sparkling hope.
Nowadays, it seems that we’re retreating further and further from the flower-child idealism that bloomed so brightly fifty years ago. My heart aches, but my faith in the human soul isn’t shaken.
You may say I’m a dreamer, but I often quote the prophet from Nazareth: “It is done unto you as you believe.” And I know I’m not the only one who believes in the power of love.
By Miss P
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