Westwood One

Audio Retrospective: The Summer of Love – 50 Years Later

Westwood One News opened its audio archive and is taking you back to the summer of love, 50 years later. The Summer of Love: Fall of Innocence 50th Anniversary special is airing on radio stations all over the country this weekend, and can be heard it in its entirety below. Turn on, tune in, drop out to when America changed forever. 

It was the summer of 1967 – the summer of inner-city riots, the six-day war in the Middle East, and the endless war in Vietnam, but for thousands of American young people the summer of 1967 was the summer of love.

For those who felt the country was on the brink of collapse, the summer of love was a revelation, powered by protest, experimentation with drugs, transcendental meditation, free love, and personal expression. Artists and poets shattered convention and inspired an entire generation who wanted to change the world.

The soundtrack that powered the movement defined its vibe – in the summer of ’67 the Beatles blew everyone’s mind with Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, and the Grateful Dead and Janis Joplin burst on the scene alongside Jimi Hendrix, as he set his guitar on fire at the Monterey Pop Festival.

Hear how flower power really happened as Westwood One News correspondents Jim Roope and Steve Kastenbaum revisit 1967 in a 50th-anniversary retrospective audio special featuring recovered and restored archive audio of the music and voices who were there.

Artist Michael Bowen organized the pivotal Human Be-In in Golden Gate Park and says people were called to San Francisco because they were searching for “the realization of inner freedom, personal freedom in a thousand different directions.”

Activist Abbie Hoffman sums up the urgency of the movement; he says, “every morning we woke up like Crazy Horse, and said today is a good day to die, which meant it could happen right now, so it was the brink of the apocalypse.”

American essayist and Village Voice music critic Robert Christgau says it all may have been too good to be true. “I think some people were taking in by the … utopian promises that were sure to fall apart and did fall apart by the end of that summer.”

As we look to what is happening in the world today, Professor and author Fred Turner says the counter-culture desire to make the world better will always exist, just in a different form. He cautions we must stop thinking that just giving voice to our inner truth is sufficient to change the world, and says “we need to be focused on using our new technologies to support the kind of institutions that make civic life strong – hospitals, public forums, government.”

Hear more commentary and sounds from the scene including LSD guru Professor Timothy Leary, rock manager Bill Graham, singer Scott McKenzie, Beatles publicist Derrick Taylor, poet and The Fugs band member Ed Sanders, author Larry “Ratso” Sloman, San Francisco Police Lieutenant David Leon, legendary drummer Carmine Appice, influential radio DJ Scott Muni, The Realist publisher Paul Krassner, and more.

Westwood One News saves the Summer of Love

The archived audio showcased in the special was unearthed during Westwood One News’ recent move to a new studio in Washington, DC. The master reel was unplayable without treatment. To restore the tape, it was placed in a food dehydrator, which removes moisture. After baking in the dehydrator for five hours at 130 degrees, the tape was rewound by hand, as it passed through two cotton balls, one on each side of the tape, to remove any remaining loose oxide particles. After hooking two separate digital recorders to the outputs of a reel to reel machine, the tape played and the sounds of history were saved.

Click here to learn more about the restoration process.

Suzy Schultz is SVP Corporate Marketing at Cumulus | Westwood One.

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