Chris Robinson - The Fillmore - Dec. 10, 2016

The Rich Musical History of San Francisco

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Summer of Love

There cannot be a mention of the rich musical history of San Francisco without a mention of the Summer of Love. There was a gathering of nearly 100,000 hippies in the Haight and Ashbury neighborhood of San Francisco during the summer of 1967. This was a movement in search of personal freedom in terms of being able to wear what they wanted and to express themselves the way they wanted. It was like a rebellion against the established norms of the society with an intent to create a ‘free society’. The Summer of Love thus gave birth to a new kind of music in the San Francisco music scene called acid rock. The likes of artists Janis Joplin, the members of Jefferson Airplane, Grace Slick, and Jerry Garcia of the Grateful Dead came to the forefront and took the world of music by storm.

The other notable thing that can be counted in the San Francisco music scene is ‘The Fillmore’. This entertainment district seen today as the heart and soul of the city dates back a hundred years. The Fillmore became a hotbed of music in San Francisco during the 1960s and to this date is dotted with theaters, dance halls, nightclubs and other such music venues.

Music Festivals

The enormous influx and the rise of the hippie culture and free society and thereby free music meant that the scene of live music in San Francisco changed forever. It resulted in a lot of music festivals being held here. The Trips Festival of ’66, the San Francisco Pop Fest of ’68, the Fantasy Fair and Magic Mountain Music Festival and the Monterey Pop Music Festival of Northern California are a few prominent ones to name a few that are closely linked to the rich musical history of San Francisco.

Over 30 bands performed at the Fantasy Fair including the Doors, Jefferson Airplane, the Byrds, and Dionne Warwick. There was a mixture of genres of music on offer here much like what we see in today’s music festivals. In the Monterey Pop Music Festival however, they strived to bring recognition to rock, soul and pop music at a time when only jazz thrived. The Board of Governors included Big stars like Mick Jagger, Smokey Robinson, and Paul McCartney and they ensured around 30 acts were performed. Both these music festivals were a delight for the music loving crowds who swayed in abandon to change the music scene of San Francisco forever.

The various genres

The North beach was the bohemian area of the San Francisco, where jazz lovers used to hang out. Gary Snyder, Philip Whalen, Lew Welch, and Kirby Doyle formed the core of the Beat Generation that became synonymous with jazz and the San Francisco music scene during the 1950s. This was followed by the revolution of the 1960s and various genres came into being. In the 1970s, the punk music emerged with the likes of the band Dead Kennedys. Slowly a lot more bands followed, they either started here or settled here making sure that San Francisco remained a hotbed of music genres.

Having released albums under Digital Nations, a label founded by Steve Vai, music critic Louis Raphael has remained deeply connected to the pulse of the San Francisco music scene. Following his tenure as the San Francisco Music Examiner for and, he embarked on creating Music in SF® to authentically highlight the vibrant offerings of the city's music scene.

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