The 1967 Monterey International Pop Festival was looking for a unique way to advertise. They decided to ask John Phillips of The Mamas and the Papas to write a song that would invite music fans to travel to the west coast for the festival. Phillips wrote “San Francisco (Be Sure to Wear Flowers in Your Hair)”*. To sing the song, Phillips asked his friend Scott McKenzie. The two had met a decade earlier and had performed together in a pop group called “The Smoothies” and later as “The Journeymen.”
Because the festival was scheduled for June 16-18, the song was recorded and released rather quickly. When it was first published in May it was an immediate success. It reached #4 on theBillboardcharts in the U.S. It did even better in England where it peaked at #1.
Although McKenzie’s only hit, he would write, along with John Phillips, Mike Love of The Beach Boys and Terry Melcher, the 1988 hit “Kokomo.” “Kokomo” was a greater success than “San Francisco,” reaching #1 on theBillboardcharts.
Scott McKenzie passed away at the age of 73 due to complications from Guillain-Barre syndrome.
*This is the correct title of the song. The lyrics including the line “be sure to wear some flowers in your hair” but Phillips’ song title left the word “some” out of the song’s name.
Sources: Miami Herald, www.scottmckenzie.info, and wikipedia.org
(The live version of “San Francisco” from the Monterey International Pop Festival is copyright of Razor & Tie Records, 2008.)