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1967 San Francisco: The Grateful Dead And The Summer Of Love

Famously known as the “Summer of Love”, the summer of 1967 was an explosion of hippie ideals and spirit that would reverberate around the nation for years to come. The Mecca from which all of this originated was the Haight-Ashbury district of San Francisco, with a soundtrack by The Grateful Dead…

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

The Gathering Of The Tribes

How did San Francisco become the Mecca for the hippie movement? It was brought about by students from the University of California, Berkeley, and Stanford University, who were fed up with the then-current cultural norms. In January 1967, the Gathering Of The Tribes/Human Be-In rally was held in Golden Gate Park. Thousands attended this event to foster unity and ideas of ecological awareness, personal empowerment, and political and cultural decentralization.

The Heart Of The Love

If San Francisco was the Mecca, the now famous Haight-Ashbury district located in San Francisco was the focal point of the hippie movement in the 60s. It’s estimated that over 100,000 young Americans congregated there in the summer of ‘67 in order to celebrate their new ideals and culture. The term “Summer of Love” became used as a way to positively promote the ideals of love, drugs, and free thinking.

The Grateful Dead

The Grateful Dead, originally known as The Warlocks, were introduced to San Francisco as part of writer Ken Kesey’s Acid Test parties. These parties included other notables, such as the Merry Pranksters. Kesey was one of the first people in the country to try LSD and began to advocate for its use by hosting parties that were basically a way for people to experiment with the drug, which was legal at the time.

The Dead Go Tripping

Thanks to Kesey, the Grateful Dead performed as part of the Trips Festival in late 1966. This was a three-night music festival on San Francisco’s North Beach and was just a larger-scale version of the Acid Test parties. Over 6,000 people attended this festival, and the hippie movement gained much traction, which would spill over into the summer of 1967.


With their key role in the events leading to the expansion of the hippie movement, the Dead decided to take up residence in a house at 710 Ashbury Street, in the heart of the Haight-Ashbury district. It was conveniently close to all the goings-on, and especially convenient as LSD and marijuana were sold at local stores.

Sadly, the famed Haight-Ashbury district would become over-run with homeless and drug-addicted individuals, which would bring the ultimate demise to the neighborhood as the heart of the hippie movement in San Francisco. But for that one summer back in 1967, it was the heart of new ideals that would influence tens of thousands of people for a lifetime.