Aug 20, 2012
Scott McKenzie was the voice that ushered in the Summer of Love as he sang about how "if you come to San Francisco, summertime will be a love-in there" full of "gentle people with flowers in their hair."
A wave of people around the world responded to the lyrics sung by Scott McKenzie, making "Haight-Ashbury" a household name and "hippie" a household word in the aftermath of McKenzie's worldwide smash, "San Francisco (Be Sure to Wear Flowers in Your Hair)".
The Voice of Flower Power
Scott McKenzie was born Philip Wallach Blondheim on January 10, 1939, and music legend John Phillips was his childhood best friend with whom he formed the bands, The Abstracts and The Smoothies, in the late 1950s.
In 1961 John Phillips and Scott McKenzie formed the folk band, The Journeymen, with banjo player Dick Weissman, which recorded for Capitol Records.
The trio enjoyed moderate success until the record label gave 99 percent of its promotional attention to its new band called The Beatles.
During Beatlemania, The Journeymen broke up.
Scott McKenzie went solo, while Phillips formed the supergroup The Mamas & the Papas with Denny Doherty, Cass Elliot and his new wife, Michelle Phillips.
When The Mamas & The Papas relocated to Michelle Phillips' hometown of Los Angeles, California, Scott McKenzie not only missed his best friend, he regretted not taking John Phillips up on his offer to join the band.
"California Dreamin", Scott McKenzie made the move to California.
With his new name and his own California Dream, McKenzie signed with legendary record producer Lou Adler, much to the delight of his best buddy, John.
John Phillips wrote and co-produced "San Francisco (Be Sure To Wear Flowers In Your Hair)" for McKenzie and played guitar on the recording, which was released on May 13, 1967 to instant international success.
"San Francisco" turned into an unstoppable hit song, which has sold nearly 8 million copies to date, with more copies sure to sell since the death of Scott McKenzie in California.
McKenzie had other singles and albums, but "San Francisco" was very tough to follow up, due to the song's global anthemic resonance and massive fame.
Throughout the 1970s, Scott McKenzie was semi-retired in the Southern California desert and living off the royalties from "San Francisco" and his other recordings.
In 1986, McKenzie started singing with a new version of The Mamas and The Papas while experiencing a songwriting renaissance. He found tremendous success once more as co-composer of The Beach Boys' 1988 global #1 hit, "Kokomo."
McKenzie suffered from Guillain–Barré syndrome, an acute polyneuropathy, which struck the singer's peripheral nervous system. The increasing numbness, paralysis, pain and weakness he had suffered are now over.
After a couple of weeks in an L.A. hospital, Scott McKenzie was released (against doctors' orders and at his own insistence) and died at home in peace on Saturday.
Scott McKenzie is dead, but he found peace after earning a place in California history. His music has not died, as evidenced by the music video below for "San Francisco."
Fans worldwide are invited to visit the official Scott McKenzie website and freely express their emotions in his guest book.
"I am amazed at how San Francisco continues even now to evoke dreams in the hearts and minds of people all over the world."
Scott McKenzie 1939-2012