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Summer of Love: The Inside Story of LSD, Rock & Roll, Free Love and High Times in the Wild Hardcover – August 1, 1994
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From Publishers Weekly
Selvin ( Monterey Pop ) brings an astonishing amount of anecdotal detail to his history of the late 1960s and early '70s drug and musical scene of hippiedom's hippest city. "The so-called Summer of Love left San Francisco a mess," he notes, but promoter Bill Graham choreographed now-legendary concerts and events there that created a number of stars. For musical acts like the Grateful Dead, success arrived despite the pervasive drug abuse that Selvin describes; the Charlatans and Moby Grape, on the other hand, self-destructed. Selvin's exhaustive supply of anecdotes, however, proves to be his greatest liability, as well as his greatest resource, for he recites every vignette in the same laconic tone, giving his account a plodding pace that contradicts the frenzy of the era. Ultimately, the book, although suffused with a wealth of information, fails to resuscitate its mythic past. Photos not seen by PW.
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc.
From Library Journal
Journalist Selvin (Monterey Pop, Chronicle, 1992) offers a popularized history of acid rock. Basing his account on interviews with such musicians as Jerry Garcia and Grace Slick, he chronologically outlines psychedelia from its inception in 1965 to its decline in 1971. Selvin weaves a gossipy tale of the personal lives of major acid rockers as well as cultural notables such as Ken Kesey, but the author seldom places this flurry of events in either musical or historical context. This sensationalist history adds little to Charles Perry's classic The Haight-Ashbury (LJ 7/84) and fails to provide much insight into the times, psychedelic music, or the musicians who have been interviewed.
David Szatmary, Univ. of Washington, Seattle
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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Top Customer Reviews
Selvin writes in great detail about how bands formed, learned (or didn't learn) how to deal with the music business, and broke up. It's a tell-all about who slept with who, the types of drugs each musician used and where and when they OD'ed, and the details of their recording contracts. To hear Selvin tell it, Janis Joplin bedded just about every male rocker in the business-- except for Jerry Lee Lewis: she got into a fistfight with him! Bill Graham's monstrous ego gets full play, until you get sick of reading about his temper tantrums and underhanded dealing.
But the book's title is misleading, for a couple reasons. For one thing, the summer of 1967 is completely absent from the book! The chronology jumps from spring to fall and ignores the summer altogether. Perhaps this was Selvin trying to emphasize his stark assertion in the book's first sentence: "The Summer of Love never really happened." But why he would deliberately omit the central scene of the whole saga is incomprehensible.
The other thing lacking in this book is a sense of the whole Zeitgeist of the Haight-Ashbury hippie scene. The book has a focus on nothing but rock-'n'-roll music. Any mention of any other cultural aspects of hippie life, like folk music, the Human Be-In, the flower children, the communal Diggers, the arts and crafts, the antiwar movement, the Eastern mysticism, the wider scope of everything that went into the Haight scene, gets no mention except insofar as it directly relates to the story of the rock-'n'-roll bands. This is a book specifically about music, not about all the many things that went into making San Francisco the hippie mecca.
Rock-'n'-roll was of course a central feature of the scene, and deserves a book all its own like this one. It just isn't the last word on it, as the title seems to promise. It doesn't give the reader a feel for the complete Haight-Ashbury experience. An accurate title would be "Rock Music in San Francisco, 1965-1971", or more accurately, "Rock Music in the Bay Area, 1965-1971."
But it does give plenty of information about the unique personalities that made all that amazing music, how they developed their sound, the personal and professional pitfalls they encountered. It shows their development from naive groups of young people beginning by playing in cafes and garages and eventually hitting the big time, bringing their local little music scene, where everyone knew everyone else, onto the world stage.
I was disappointed that Selvin didn't discuss Sly and the Family Stone much (though he has a separate book for them). But, if you're a lover of the San Francisco music scene in the mid-late 60s, this book is definitely a must-read!