"1967" Harvey Kubernik's Summer of Love Chronicle

Anyone who thinks "The Summer of Love" was a media creation simply wasn't there. Like many baby boomers, Kubernik was there. Unlike many of us though, he was there with photographers Henry Diltz and Guy Webster among others, both of whom gave the rock culture chronicler access to their photos for this highly entertaining, image filled and recollection rich book.

The cultural revolution that began around the time The Beatles brought undiluted American music back to America resulted from a rich confluence of political, social, technological and artistic upheavals. You could argue it began post WWII with rock'n'roll, the Beat Generation, the cold war, nuclear weaponry and the Baby Boom itself, but there was no guarantee all of that would lead to what happened in the later part of the 1960s.

You could also argue the "big bang" that set it all in motion were the shots the rang out on Dealey Plaza November 22nd, 1963 and the escalation of the War in Vietnam.

However, Kubernik's book is not a polemic that attempts to explain why what happened, happened. Rather, through rich photographs and interview quote snippets—some interviews are old and some were conducted for the book—the author weaves a loosely constructed look at the year through the eyes and ears of the musicians, artists, record company executives, D.J.s and others who witnessed both the events leading up to that year, and the events that took place in 1967.

Naturally much of the action takes place in California, where the year's climactic event was The Monterey Pop Festival, but there's also great coverage of the Los Angeles and San Francisco scenes that lead the way to what happened then and next. The Doors may not have been invited to Monterey Pop but they won the summer anyway, with "Light My Fire", which was the summer song.

Kubernik of course gives The British Invasion its due as well as the contributions provided by Motown and Stax/Volt. Of course Sergeant Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band released late spring in June of 1967 gets well-deserved coverage too, as does the introduction of the 8-track tape deck that brought the music into kids' cars. Also getting a nod was the rise of FM radio as a populist not elitist cultural force. Television was also important in the mix—The Ed Sullivan Show and The Smothers Brothers Hour in particular as well as "The Fuge" and The Twilight Zone.

Inexplicably, though, Mr. Kubernik does not touch on or cover in any meaningful way recorded pop music's changeover from singles to LPs or the growing popularity of high fidelity stereo systems that brought popular music's improved sonics and studio production to an appreciative audience. Maybe that's his next book?

Harvey's brother Kenneth, also an excellent writer, contributes some choice prose. The combination of insightful interview capsule quotes from a wide range of witnesses, and great photographs—all well reproduced in this hardcover, glossy paper gem priced at around $20 help make "1967" a great summer read, especially since the presentation is not linear. You can open it up to any page and start reading and looking.

Among my favorite images: Berry Gordy, Jr. at his Detroit office with not one but two Empire Troubadour turntables nearby. There's a shot of The Jefferson Airplane at Monterey with a Kubernik blurb about After Bathing at Baxter's produced by Al Schmitt who is still going strong and a full page taken up by a photo of a young Keith Richards and this quote: "The Room is good if you know what you're doing. Use as few microphones as possible. The whole idea when you play music is to fill the room with sound. Because a band is several people playing something. An somewhere in the air of the room, that sound has to gather in one spot. And yo have to find that spot." You'll have to read for yourself the quote from the great Bones Howe on page 151.

COMMENTS
Barretter's picture

How did the Beatles manage to make that without introducing any British influence whatsoever?