Throughout this summer, a look back 50 years at the Summer of Love in 1967.
We’ll get to the oldie (Can you tell what it is?) but first, a personal story.
The Wisconsin State Fair opens next week. Back in the 90’s I started moonlighting, working security backstage. I got hooked into the job when I had press credentials, and some of the backstage people whom I’d known for a long, long time asked if I would put on a bright yellow Security shirt and give them a hand.
In August of 2007 Felix Cavaliere, the lead singer of the Rascals, received a national honor in Wisconsin, and yours truly played a small part in securing the former Young Rascal. Cavaliere was the honoree for the 2007 National Italian Invitational Golf Tournament for Charities at the Grand Geneva Resort in Lake Geneva.
My role came totally unexpected working backstage at the Main Stage at the 2006 Wisconsin State Fair. Cavaliere was opening on the final Sunday afternoon for Johnny Rivers. Prior to the show, while I was near the front of the stage, a man motioned for my attention. He introduced himself, local attorney Joseph Alioto. Alioto was very polite and asked if I could get a message backstage to Cavaliere that his organization held this golf tournament and every year they honored an Italian and for 2007 they wanted to pay tribute to Cavaliere if he would accept.
Keep in mind, it is day 11 of a long, grinding, tiring State Fair. Working backstage, I have heard 11 days of stories. This person has a friend who has a cousin who once met the wife of the brother of the drummer and could he please get backstage. That kind of stuff.
However, I had already met Cavaliere and found him to be affable and very easy-going. Knowing that he was going to meet with several fans in a “meet and greet” backstage, I thought Alioto’s request could work.
“Why don’t I see if I can arrange to have you invite Mr. Cavaliere personally” I said to Alioto.
Alioto was ecstatic.
I walked into Cavaliere’s dressing room where I had met him earlier and found him sitting in a large lounge chair. After briefly describing the situation and telling Cavaliere I believed it to be genuine, without hesitation he said, “Sure, send him in.”
When I went back to get Alioto, he had his young teenage son with him, apologized, and asked if his son could also be allowed backstage.
“Wait here,” I replied.
Back to the dressing room I went, Cavaliere gave another quick approval, and I ran out to usher Alioto and his son backstage.
I couldn’t just leave the two in the dressing room so I sat with Alioto during his entire conversation with Cavaliere, who, as he learned more and more, was flattered and very interested in the opportunity to be honored by Alioto’s group, of which Alioto is the treasurer. Alioto exchanged information with Cavaliere’s people and after about ten minutes, the negotiation was completed successfully.
Alioto must have thanked me what seemed a hundred thousand times on the way back to his seat.
Felix Cavaliere accepted and attended the National Italian Invitational Golf Tournament for Charities, and so did my wife Jennifer and I. We were excited to get photos and autographs.
Cavaliere played a mini-concert that lasted over a half hour.
Forty years before the above event in Lake Geneva Cavaliere was enjoying huge success during the Summer of Love.
The summer hadn’t even erupted and The Rascals were topping the Billboard chart. At the end of May, “Groovin'” was #1 for two weeks.
The song was knocked out of the top spot by Aretha Franklin and “Respect.” In a pop music rarity, “Groovin'” rebounded two weeks later to go #1 again for another two weeks.
The lyric “Groovin’ on a Sunday afternoon, Really couldn’t get away too soon
I can’t imagine anything that’s better, The world is ours whenever we’re together,”
was somewhat prophetic. Love-ins were held regularly in parks in L.A. and San Francisco featuring impromptu music.
“A Love-In was just a Sunday afternoon when the word of mouth was, ‘Everyone’s going to meet there around noon,’” recalls L.A. musician and veteran photographer Henry Diltz. “Most of the people were on psychedelics. It was all totally lovely, never an ugly moment.”
On June 4, 1967, the Young Rascals appeared on the Ed Sullivan Show. I’m pretty sure this helped them return to the #1 spot on Billboard just a few weeks later. And yes, they’re really playing and singing, not lip syncing.
From 2016, guitarist Peter White:
OTHER SUMMER OF LOVE POSTS