San Francisco (Be Sure to Wear Flowers in Your Hair)

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"San Francisco (Be Sure to Wear [Some] Flowers in Your Hair)"
Scott McKenzie San Francisco Ode label.jpg
Side A of US vinyl single
Single by Scott McKenzie
from the album The Voice of Scott McKenzie
B-side"What's the Difference"
ReleasedMay 13, 1967 (1967-05-13)
Format7-inch single
Songwriter(s)John Phillips[1]
Scott McKenzie singles chronology
"No, No, No, No, No"
"San Francisco (Be Sure to Wear [Some] Flowers in Your Hair)"
"Look in Your Eyes"

"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.[2] 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.[3]

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.

McKenzie's version of the song has been called "the unofficial anthem of the counterculture movement of the 1960s, including the Hippie, Anti-Vietnam War and Flower power movements."[4]

The song's title has been honoured in Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, wherein two successive storyline missions have been named after parts of the title.


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)."[5] Phillips reported writing the song in about 20 minutes.[6] It is one of the very first songs in popular music industry (most probably the first major hit) to use vi–IV–I–V chord progression, a variant of I–V–vi–IV progression, which has seen enormous popularity in recent years, in pop music as well as in orchestral music (through many popular Hollywood movies and movie trailers).

The song, which tells the listeners, "If you're going to San Francisco, be sure to wear some flowers in your hair",[2] 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'".[7]


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.[8] Meanwhile, the song rose to number one in the UK Singles Chart,[1] and most of Europe. In July 1967, McKenzie's previous record label, Capitol, claimed that the "follow-up" to this song was their re-release of his earlier single, "Look in Your Eyes."[9] The single is purported to have sold over seven million copies worldwide.[10] 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".[11][12] 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.[13] A cover of the song by Michael Marshall appears in the 2019 film The Last Black Man in San Francisco.[14]


Chart history[edit]

Johnny Hallyday version[edit]

"San Francisco"
Single by Johnny Hallyday
from the album Johnny au Palais des sports
Released1967 (1967)
Johnny Hallyday singles chronology
"Petite fille"
"San Francisco"
"L'histoire de Bonnie and Clyde"

French singer Johnny Hallyday recorded the song in French, with the title "San Francisco". His version reached number five in Wallonia (French Belgium) in 1967.[32]

Track listings[edit]

7" single Philips B 370.454 F (1967)

  1. "San Francisco" (3:10)
  2. "Mon fils" (4:00)[32]

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)[32]


"San Francisco" / "Mon fils"[32][33]
Chart (1967–68) Peak
Belgium (Ultratop 50 Wallonia)[32] 5

Other covers and samples[edit]

See also[edit]



  1. ^ a b c 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.
  2. ^ a b 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.
  3. ^ Davis, Clive (February 19, 2013). "8: Monterey Pop". The Soundtrack of My Life. Simon & Schuster. pp. 62–64. ISBN 9781476714790.
  4. ^ "Scott McKenzie, 1960s counter-culture singer, dies at 73". Retrieved April 6, 2014.
  5. ^ Ingles, Paul (June 15, 2017). "A Look Back At Monterey Pop, 50 Years Later". National Public Radio. NPR. Retrieved November 18, 2018.
  6. ^ John Phillips interviewed on the Pop Chronicles (1969)
  7. ^ "San Francisco", Retrieved 28 August 2019
  8. ^ Whitburn, Joel (2004). The Billboard Book of Top 40 Hits: Eighth Edition. Record Research. p. 415.
  9. ^ "Ode & Capitol In A Hassle - McK in Middle". Billboard: 3. July 22, 1967. Retrieved November 18, 2018.
  10. ^ Carson, Jim (August 5, 2011). "Did You You: "San Francisco (Be Sure to Wear Flowers in Your Hair)" By Scott McKenzie". CBS Radio. Archived from the original on August 16, 2011. Retrieved February 24, 2012.
  11. ^ "Kezar Stadium - June 2, 1973". Led Zeppelin | Official Website. Retrieved January 26, 2020.
  12. ^ Rey 1997, p. 253.
  13. ^ "New Order***Full Concert***Live at Bill Graham Civic Auditorium, SF, CA, July 11, 2014-Joy Division". YouTube.
  14. ^ "How The Last Black Man in San Francisco Soundtrack Reshapes the City's Hippie Nostalgia".
  15. ^ "Go-Set Australian charts - 26 July 1967".
  16. ^ " – Scott McKenzie – San Francisco (Be Sure to Wear Some Flowers in Your Hair)" (in German). Ö3 Austria Top 40. Retrieved October 28, 2017.
  17. ^ " – Scott McKenzie – San Francisco (Be Sure to Wear Some Flowers in Your Hair)" (in Dutch). Ultratop 50. Retrieved October 28, 2017.
  18. ^ " – Scott McKenzie – San Francisco (Be Sure to Wear Some Flowers in Your Hair)" (in French). Ultratop 50. Retrieved October 28, 2017.
  19. ^ "The Irish Charts – Search Results – San Francisco". Irish Singles Chart. Retrieved August 26, 2019.
  20. ^ " – Scott McKenzie – San Francisco (Be Sure to Wear Some Flowers in Your Hair)" (in Dutch). Single Top 100. Retrieved October 28, 2017.
  21. ^ " – Scott McKenzie – San Francisco (Be Sure to Wear Some Flowers in Your Hair)" (in French). Les classement single. Retrieved October 28, 2017.
  22. ^ " – Scott McKenzie Single-Chartverfolgung" (in German). Media Control Charts. PhonoNet GmbH. Retrieved October 28, 2017.
  23. ^ "flavour of new zealand - search listener".
  24. ^ " – Scott McKenzie – San Francisco (Be Sure to Wear Some Flowers in Your Hair)". VG-lista. Retrieved October 28, 2017.
  25. ^ " – Scott McKenzie – San Francisco (Be Sure to Wear Some Flowers in Your Hair)". Swiss Singles Chart. Retrieved October 28, 2017.
  26. ^ "Scott McKenzie: Artist Chart History". Official Charts Company.
  27. ^ "Scott McKenzie Chart History (Hot 100)". Billboard.
  28. ^ "Cash Box Top 100 Singles, July 22, 1967".
  29. ^ "RPM Top 100 Singles of 1967".
  30. ^ "Top 100 Hits of 1967/Top 100 Songs of 1967".
  31. ^ "Cash Box Year-End Charts: Top 100 Pop Singles, December 23, 1967".
  32. ^ a b c d e " – Johnny Hallyday – San Francisco" (in French). Ultratop 50.
  33. ^ "Johnny Hallyday - Mon fils". Retrieved December 6, 2017.
  34. ^ "Scott McKenzie - San Francisco (Remix '89)".


External links[edit]