Flower power, peace and love, hippies, drugs … yep, that is the media image of London in 1967.
And I was there, but on the periphery because I’d just started my teaching career! I’d been taught that our role was to set our students, and mine were aged 9/10, on the path to becoming members of society. But I needed to examine myself, and those kids taught me a lot.
Most of them lived in a flat in six storey high housing on a nearby council estate, and I still remember some of them. There was Charlie whose father was a recidivist: “My dad’s got a new car; he’s painting it.”
Every Xmas Charlie’s dad gave we teachers a present: as a delivery driver he had loads of goodies behind him. I recall a fancy box of chocolates one year, but when in 1969 we heard that he was a driver for CBS Records, we eagerly anticipated his arrival. Sadly, he got sent down for six months shortly before.
By then I was more in tune with what the Summer of Love had represented, if only in terms of the music. I’d gone to gigs, met various members of the ‘Canterbury Scene’ (Soft Machine, Caravan +), listened to Pink Floyd and the electric Miles Davis, turned on, tuned in, but hadn’t (yet) dropped out.
The radio was still a source of listening pleasure; the pirate stations in the North Sea were gone, but John Peel was on BBC Radio 1, while ‘pop’ singers and ‘beat’ groups continued to turn out singalong hits.
Most tracks are listed in the UK Top 100 hits in 1967. However, I’ve included a few tracks which have a personal relevance. The Bonzos were in the Beatles Magical Mystery Tour, while Simon Dupree and the Big Sound were a ‘local’ band when I was at uni, and were very popular at our Student Union organised gigs. Later they had a massive hit with Kites, and the Shulman brothers were to join the prog-rock scene and form the still fondly remembered Gentle Giant.
The last track in my compilation was only recently discovered: it’s a cover of the first single released in February by the Soft Machine, with Robert Wyatt on lead vocals. Neither versions were hits, but those tracks that were have mostly stood the test of time.
As much as I love Marmite, I am not amused by their current advertising campaign which purports to be “inspired by Woodstock and the summer of love in 1967” that references the British spread’s “characteristically divisive personality: Love it or Hate it.“
“Inspired”? No! Mocked? Yes!