Monday, July 26, 2010

San Francisco (Be Sure to Wear Flowers in Your Hair)

"San Francisco (Be Sure to Wear Flowers in Your Hair)" is a song, written by John Phillips of The Mamas & the Papas, and sung by Scott McKenzie. It was written and released in 1967 to promote the Monterey Pop Festival.

McKenzie's song became an instant hit. The lyrics tell the listeners, "If you're going to San Francisco, be sure to wear some flowers in your hair". Due to the difference between the lyrics and the actual title, the title is often quoted as "San Francisco (Be Sure to Wear Some Flowers in Your Hair)". "San Francisco," released on 13 May 1967, was an instant hit. By June 1967, it commanded the number four spot on the Billboard Hot 100 in the United States. Meanwhile, the song rose to number one in the United Kingdom and most of Europe. The single is purported to have sold over 7 million copies worldwide. The song is credited with bringing thousands of young people to San Francisco, California during the late 1960s.

Scott McKenzie, the singer
McKenzie 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 New York, The Abstracts became The Smoothies and recorded two singles with Decca Records, produced by Milt Gabler. In 1961 Phillips and McKenzie met Dick Weissman and formed The Journeymen, which recorded three albums for Capitol Records. After disbanding The Journeymen in 1964, they discussed forming a group called The Mamas & the Papas. McKenzie wanted to perform on his own, so Phillips formed the group with Denny Doherty, Cass Elliot and Michelle Phillips, his second wife. The group soon moved to California. Two years later, McKenzie followed from New York and signed with Lou Adler's Ode Records.

Phillips wrote and produced "San Francisco (Be Sure To Wear Flowers In Your Hair)", which was released in 1967, for McKenzie. John Phillips played guitar on the recording and Michelle Phillips played bells. The bass line of the song was supplied by session musician Joe Osborn. It became a Top 10 hit in the United States and a number one in the UK and several other countries. It sold over seven million copies globally, and was awarded a gold disc.

McKenzie followed the song with "Like An Old Time Movie", also written and produced by Phillips, which was a minor hit. His first album, The Voice of Scott McKenzie was followed with an album called Stained Glass Morning. He stopped recording in the early 1970s and lived in Joshua Tree, California and Virginia Beach.

In 1986, he started singing with a new version of The Mamas and the Papas. With Terry Melcher, Mike Love and John Phillips, he co-wrote the number 1 single for the Beach Boys, "Kokomo" (1988).

By 1998, he had retired from the road version of The Mamas and Papas, and currently resides in Los Angeles, California. He appeared at the Los Angeles tribute concert for John Phillips in 2001, amongst other 1960s contemporary acts.

John Edmund Andrew Phillips (August 30, 1935 – March 18, 2001), the writer of the lyrics
John Edmund Andrew Phillips (August 30, 1935 – March 18, 2001), was an American singer, guitarist, and songwriter. Known as Papa John, Phillips was a member and leader of the singing group The Mamas & the Papas. He was the father of Jeffrey Phillips, Mackenzie Phillips, Chynna Phillips, Tamerlane Phillips, and Bijou Phillips.

Phillips was born in Parris Island, South Carolina. His father was a retired United States Marine Corps officer who won an Oklahoma bar from another Marine in a poker game on the way home from France after World War I. His mother was a Cherokee Native his father met in Oklahoma. According to his autobiography, Papa John, Phillips' father was a heavy drinker who suffered from poor health.

Phillips grew up in Alexandria, Virginia, where he was inspired by Marlon Brando to be "street tough". He formed a group of teenage boys, who also sang doo-wop songs. He played basketball at George Washington High School, where he graduated in 1953, and gained an appointment to the U.S. Naval Academy. However, he resigned during his first (plebe) year. Phillips then attended Hampden-Sydney College on a partial athletic scholarship, but dropped out and married his first of four wives: Susan Adams, the daughter of a wealthy Virginia family. They had a son, Jeffrey, and a daughter, Laura Mackenzie (known as "Mackenzie") Phillips.

The Mamas & the Papas

Phillips longed to have success in the music industry and traveled to New York to find a record contract in the early 1960s. His first band, The Journeymen, was a folk trio, with Scott Mckenzie and Dick Weismann. They were fairly successful, putting out 3 albums and several appearance on the 1960s TV show, Hootenanny. All three albums, as well as a "Best of the Journeymen" were reissued on CD. He developed his craft in Greenwich Village, during the American folk music revival, and met his future The Mamas & the Papas bandmates Denny Doherty and Cass Elliot there. Lyrics of their song "Creeque Alley" describe this period.

While touring California with The Journeymen, he met his future second wife, the teenage Michelle Gilliam. Their affair finally forced the dissolution of his first marriage. Phillips was married to Michelle Phillips from 1962 to 1970. They had one child together, Chynna Phillips, vocalist of the 1990s' pop trio Wilson Phillips.

Phillips was the primary songwriter and musical arranger of The Mamas & the Papas. Early in the band's history, John and Michelle were responsible for writing most of the band's songs. John would often come up with a melody and some lyrics and Michelle would help him complete the lyrical portion of the song. After being signed to Dunhill Records, they had several Billboard Top Ten hits during the group's short lifetime, including "California Dreamin'", "Monday, Monday", "I Saw Her Again", "Creeque Alley", and "12:30 (Young Girls Are Coming to the Canyon)". John Phillips also wrote "San Francisco (Be Sure to Wear Flowers in Your Hair)", the 1967 Scott McKenzie hit that was to become the Summer of Love anthem. Phillips also wrote the oft-covered "Me and My Uncle", which was the song performed more times than any other over 30 years of Grateful Dead concerts.

The Phillipses became Hollywood celebrities, living in the Hollywood Hills and socializing with stars like Jack Nicholson, Warren Beatty, and Roman Polanski. The group broke up largely because Cass Elliot wanted to go solo and because of some personal problems among Phillips, Michelle, and Denny Doherty. Michelle had been fired briefly in 1966, for having had affairs with both Gene Clark and Denny, and was replaced for two months by Jill Gibson, their producer Lou Adler's girlfriend. Although Michelle was forgiven and asked to return to the group, the personal problems would continue until the band split up in 1968. Cass Elliot went on to have a successful solo career until her death from heart failure in 1974.

His later life and Drug Problems

Actress Geneviève Waïte became his third wife in 1972. The couple had two children, Tamerlane and Bijou Phillips. Reportedly, both parents were drug addicts and infidelity marked their marriage

Phillips moved to London in 1973; Mick Jagger encouraged him to record another solo album. It was to be released on Rolling Stones Records and funded by RSR distributor Atlantic Records. Jagger and Keith Richards would produce and play on the album, as well as former Stone Mick Taylor and future Stone Ronnie Wood. The project was derailed by Phillips' increasing use of cocaine and heroin, substances that he shot into his body, by his own admission, "almost every fifteen minutes for two years"

In 1981 Phillips was convicted of drug trafficking; subsequently, he and his television star daughter Mackenzie Phillips made the rounds in the media, instructing kids and their parents how not to become addicts. This public relations campaign helped reduce his prison time to only a month in jail.

Upon release, he re-formed The Mamas & the Papas, with Mackenzie Phillips, Spanky McFarlane (of the group Spanky and Our Gang) and Denny Doherty. Throughout the rest of his life, Phillips toured with various versions of this group.

Phillips was divorced from Waite in 1985. In 1986, his best-selling autobiography, Papa John, was published. With Terry Melcher, Mike Love and his former Journeyman colleague Scott McKenzie, he co-wrote the number 1 single for the Beach Boys, "Kokomo", which was also nominated for a Grammy Award in the Best Song Written specifically for a Motion Picture or Television category (it lost to Phil Collins's "Two Hearts", from the film "Buster").

In the 1990s, his years of addiction led to the need for a liver transplant in 1992

The Mamas and the Papas were inducted into the Rock 'n' Roll Hall of Fame on Jan 12th, 1998.

John Phillips died on March 18, 2001 in Los Angeles of heart failure at the age of 65. He is interred in an outdoor crypt at Forest Lawn Cemetery (Cathedral City) near Palm Springs, California, where he had lived with his fourth wife, Farnaz. He died just days after completing sessions for a new album. Phillips 66 was released posthumously in August 2001.

(extracted from wikipedia)

San Francisco (Be Sure to Wear Flowers in Your Hair)

If you're going to San Francisco
Be sure to wear some flowers in your hair
If you're going to San Francisco
You're gonna meet some gentle people there

For those who come to San Francisco
Summertime will be a love-in there
In the streets of San Francisco
Gentle people with flowers in their hair

All across the nation such a strange vibration
People in motion
There's a whole generation with a new explanation
People in motion people in motion

For those who come to San Francisco
Be sure to wear some flowers in your hair
If you come to San Francisco
Summertime will be a love-in there

If you come to San Francisco
Summertime will be a love-in there

Related articles:

1. John Phillips (musician),
2. Scott McKenzie,

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