San Francisco (Be Sure to Wear Flowers in Your Hair)
|"San Francisco (Be Sure to Wear [Some] Flowers in Your Hair)"|
Side A of US vinyl single
|Single by Scott McKenzie|
|from the album The Voice of Scott McKenzie|
|B-side||"What's the Difference"|
|Released||May 13, 1967|
|Scott McKenzie singles chronology|
"San Francisco (Be Sure to Wear [Some] Flowers in Your Hair)" is a psychedelic pop song, written by John Phillips, and sung by Scott McKenzie. The song was produced and released in May 1967 by Phillips and Lou Adler, who used it to promote their Monterey International Pop Music Festival held in June of that year.
John Phillips played guitar on the recording and session musician Gary L. Coleman played orchestra bells and chimes. The bass guitar of the song was supplied by session musician Joe Osborn. Hal Blaine played drums. The song became one of the best-selling singles of the 1960s in the world, reaching the fourth position on the US charts and the number one spot on the UK charts. In Ireland, the song was number one for one week, in New Zealand the song spent five weeks at number one, and in Germany it was six weeks at number one.
According to Paul Ingles of NPR, "...local authorities in Monterey were starting to get cold feet over the prospect of their town being overrun by hippies. To smooth things over, Phillips wrote a song, "San Francisco (Be Sure To Wear Flowers In Your Hair)." Phillips reported writing the song in about 20 minutes.
The song, which tells the listeners, "If you're going to San Francisco, be sure to wear some flowers in your hair", is credited with bringing thousands of young people to San Francisco, California, during the late 1960s.
Different issues of the recording use slightly different titles, including: "San Francisco (Be Sure to Wear Flowers in Your Hair)"; "San Francisco (Be Sure to Wear Some Flowers in Your Hair)"; and "San Francisco 'Wear Some Flowers In Your Hair'".
Released on May 13, 1967, the song was an instant hit. By the week ending July 1, 1967, it reached the number four spot on the Billboard Hot 100 in the US, where it remained for four consecutive weeks. Meanwhile, the song rose to number one in the UK Singles Chart, and most of Europe. In July 1967, McKenzie's previous record label, Capitol, claimed that the "follow-up" to this song was a re-release of his earlier single, "Look in Your Eyes." The single is purported to have sold over seven million copies worldwide. In Central Europe, young people adopted "San Francisco" as an anthem, leading the song to be widely played during Czechoslovakia's 1968 Prague Spring uprising.
The song has been featured in several films, including Frantic, The Rock, and Forrest Gump. It was also played occasionally by Led Zeppelin as part of the improvised section in the middle of "Dazed and Confused". U2's Bono also led the audience in singing this song during their PopMart performances in the San Francisco Bay Area on June 18 and 19, 1997. New Order covered the song on July 11, 2014, at the Bill Graham Civic Auditorium in San Francisco. A cover of the song by Michael Marshall appears in the 2019 film The Last Black Man in San Francisco.
- Scott McKenzie – double-tracked vocals, acoustic guitar
- John Phillips – acoustic guitar, lead guitar, sitar, production
- Joe Osborn – bass guitar
- Gary L Coleman – orchestral bells and chimes
- Hal Blaine – drums, percussion
Johnny Hallyday version
|Single by Johnny Hallyday|
|from the album Johnny au Palais des sports|
|Johnny Hallyday singles chronology|
7" single Philips B 370.454 F (1967)
- "San Francisco" (3:10)
- "Mon fils" (4:00)
7" EP Philips 437.380 BE (1967)
- A1. "San Francisco" (3:10)
- A2. "Fleurs d'amour et d'amitié" (2:39)
- B1. "Mon fils" (3:58)
- B2. "Psychédélic" (3:20)
|Belgium (Ultratop 50 Wallonia)||5|
Other covers and samples
- Petula Clark also released a cover in 1967.
- Merrilee Rush released a cover in 1968.
- Tanya Tucker released a cover in 1979.
- CBS released a remix by Peter Slaghuis in 1989 ("Remix 89", CBS 6550717)
- Helloween sampled two lines for 1993's track "Revolution Now".
- Ted Hawkins released a cover in 1995.
- The Shadows released a cover in 1968.
- Me First and the Gimme Gimmes recorded a pop-punk version on their album Blow in the Wind.
- The soundtrack of the 2019 film The Last Black Man in San Francisco included a cover of the song.
- 1967 in music
- Best-selling singles worldwide
- Counterculture of the 1960s
- List of songs about California
- Summer of Love
- Rice, Jo (1982). The Guinness Book of 500 Number One Hits (1st ed.). Enfield, Middlesex: Guinness Superlatives Ltd. p. 110. ISBN 0-85112-250-7.
- Gilliland, John (1969). "Show 42 – The Acid Test: Psychedelics and a sub-culture emerge in San Francisco. [Part 2]" (audio). Pop Chronicles. University of North Texas Libraries.
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- John Phillips interviewed on the Pop Chronicles (1969)
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- The Book of Golden Discs – 2nd Edition – ISBN 0-214-20512-6
- Rey, Luis (1997). Led Zeppelin Live: An Illustrated Exploration of Underground Tapes. The Hot Wacks Press. ISBN 978-0969808077.