SAN FRANCISCO RETROSPECTIVES
by James Doukas
by Ralph Gleason
Summer Of Love
by Gene Anthony
by Charles Perry
San Francisco Nights
by Sculatti & Seay
Summer Of Love
by Joel Selvin
Beneath The Diamond Sky
by Barney Hoskyns
Amazing Dope Tales
by Stephen Gaskin
The Trips Festival, January 1966
Electric Tibet by James Doukas, 1969
The rarest S F rock history book that I know of is also the earliest, published in April 1969. While an essential tome for hardcore SF heads I'm afraid it's not terribly impressive. The book (published by an obscure house with minimal proof-reading and some cheap errors) was a college project and feels like it. In order to please his professor Doukas had to insert Sociology aspects into his rambling interviews with various ballroom freaks, so you often get unexpected "scientific" statements like "San Francisco is unique, because the musicians meet a lot of people".
Highpoints include a rare interview with the Ace Of Cups (not all that extensive), Nick Gravenites (who is obviously a smart, analytic guy), and a long chat with Chicken Hirsh who turns out to be quite a philosopher. A bunch of other acidrock luminaries talk too, but these interviews are invariably disappointing and add no new data. There's a whole chapter on the Airplane who wouldn't give Doukas the time of day, yet he printed what he had. The book is not hopeless by any means, but would have been much better without the under-graduate academic angle. Some proof-reading and research might have spared us references to the "Sons Of Chaplin" or "Mountain Grow" (=Mountain Girl). Written in mid-1968, with updates to cover what had happened prior to publishing. No images. Nice front cover shot of Jack Casady though. 190 pp.
Ace Of Cups Merry Pranksters
(Julius Karpen) pt 1
(Julius Karpen) pt 2
Flamin' Groovies & other "2nd wave" bands
Jefferson Airplane & the San Francisco Sound by Ralph Gleason, 1969
The standing of the Airplane in the late 1960s was a lot more impressive than it is today, which is why the idea of an S F book that makes them the centre of attention probably didn't look all that strange. And Gleason, who'd been around since the beginning -- actually, before the beginning -- had always had a soft spot for Marty Balin's creation, giving them plenty of space when they were still unknowns.
This legendary book consists of a detailed and well-written S F retrospective, partly based on Gleason's old Chronicle columns, plus interviews with the Airplane members, and Jerry Garcia. There is also an infamous list of "all" bands that existed in the S F area during the golden era, including dozens of acts that are unidentified to this day.
For reasons unknown this has never been reprinted. Used copies require some searching and usually sell for around $50 at this point.
Summer Of Love by Gene Anthony, 1980
Possibly the very first Haight-Ashbury retrospective (Ralph Gleason excluded), this is essentially a photo book with commentary. Gene Anthony was on the scene from the beginning, and the book provides 100s of excellent photos covering the big events and rock bands as well as everyday life on the street among freaks and Diggers, with focus on the real Summer of Love, 1966. B/w with an 8-page mid-section in color. Commentary is based on personal recollections as well as interviews with Michael Bowen, Allen Cohen, Ron Thelin and similar luminairies... but it's the graphic material that makes this book a must. An appendix lists all '66-67 dance concerts at the Fillmore and Avalon. Reprinted in 1986 and 1995, possibly still in print. 176 pp.
Haight-Ashbury by Charles Perry, 1984
This remains the standard work on the era against which all others are measured. The author is a professional music journalist and veteran of the original S F scene and performs his task in an impressive manner, a few surprising errors aside. The focus is on the culture in a wider sense than just the music and drugs, and in fact the rock bands are among the least prominent features in the story. Perry successfully carries the street guerilla atmosphere of the 1966 Haight into his pages, mixing minute details with larger sociological background data... the Diggers become the nexus around which tales of drug dealers, musicians, magazines and shops are spun in an objective, non-sensationalist manner. The story ends in late 1967, plus an epilogue. Essential, but published at a time when interest in old acid hippies was at a nadir and thus never reprinted and somewhat hard to find today. Two sections with b/w photos, none particularly rare. 306 pp.
San Francisco Nights by Gene Sculatti & Davin Seay, 1985
Similar to Barney Hoskyns' book below with a strong focus on the music scene and plenty of nice images and design details, albeit on a less expensive scale. Attempts to paint a background of S F as an old bohemian city, but fails to carry these aspects into the evolvement of the local acidrock scene... and the condensed, shallow peeks into other psych happenings around the world isn't very useful. For those who are only interested in the music aspects of the scene it may be a good introduction, though the cover probably scares a lot of prospective buyers off. B/w photos and images throughout. 192 pp.
Summer Of Love by Joel Selvin, 1995
This was hardly the S F book the new generation of 1990s acidheads needed, or deserved. Selvin could have written a serious retrospective but took the "sex, drugs & rock'n'roll" path instead; his general tone is blasť and somewhat contemptous. Reminiscent of the scandalous Hollywood epic "Raging Bulls & Easy Riders" from about the same time, except that this is way less entertaining. Recommended if you want to hear the really bad, unpleasant stories on Big Brother and Santana. Selvin brings the story to a close in 1971, then restores his credibility somewhat with a good critical overview of the S F bands and their output, the Sons Of Champlin's debut LP being his surprise pick for a winner. 8-page b/w photo section. 376 pp.
Beneath The Diamond Sky by Barney Hoskyns, 1997
Very appealing design with color photos throughout, glossy print and an Oracle-light rainbow effect applied on all text pages. Bunch of rare pics and designs not found elsewhere, whereas the actual story focuses primarily on the music and adds little or nothing to what is already known. Book was premium-priced on publication, but unsold copies can be found cheap on eBay currently. 220pp.
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