50th Summer of Love: San Francisco Denies Park Permit To Hippies, Suddenly Schedules Its Own Free Concert

Earlier this year, the San Francisco Recreation and Parks Department denied would-be Summer of Love concert producer, Boots Hughston, a permit to put on a free 50th anniversary concert in Golden Gate Park. Last weekend, the department unceremoniously shot down Hughston’s second bid to host a free SOL concert at the park. Now, the City is poised to present its own free version of the Summer of Love 50th anniversary concert, and not everyone is enchanted with the idea.

Why the City denied Hughston’s first application to throw a free concert in the park

Last April, Rec and Parks permits manager, Diane Rea, offered a number of reasons for the initial denial, including Hughston’s erroneous assertion that adequate security and on-site medical stations were on standby for his proposed June 4 event. The City also noted conflicting numbers as to how many concertgoers were anticipated at the Polo Fields location referenced in Hughston’s first permit application. Hughston was additionally chastised for allowing public announcements of a June 4 Summer of Love event prior to receiving permit approval from the Department.

The poster below, albeit of considerable artistic merit, was part of the problem.

The City said no, and they said it loudly

In a written denial that the Mercury News termed “a sharply-worded, three-page letter,” Rea nixed Boots’ permit application while simultaneously impugning his integrity. Hughston fended off the disparaging remarks, noting that Rea’s lengthy letter amounted to “character assassination.” He explained that he’d previously promoted concerts at numerous venues, including Golden Gate Park, without any problems.

“They’re going after my credibility, saying I lied to them which is totally untrue.”

If only that statement were true. Unfortunately, it’s not. Boots did indeed serve up a heaping helping of jive when he announced the musical lineup he had in place for the June 4 free Summer of Love concert. Boots said that the original Santana rhythm section and Animals/War frontman, Eric Burdon, would play at his event. In fact, original Santana conga drummer, Michael Carabello, told the SF Gate that he had nary a clue about his alleged involvement in Hughston’s Summer of Love 50th anniversary show until reading about it in the San Francisco Chronicle. Burdon’s wife and manager, Marianna, told her social media followers that she and Eric “immediately” turned down Hughston’s invitation to perform.

“This world is full of deluded characters spreading false information for their own opportunistic purposes. I feel like I must burst their bubble and expose them to reality. Eric was never confirmed.”

Boots ‘credibility’ also came under scrutiny when he told a San Francisco Examiner reporter that erstwhile San Francisco mayor Willie Brown was completely in sync with his plan to put on a free Summer of Love 50th anniversary concert and supported him in Rec and Park meetings. When Willie got wind of this, he said he had “no idea” who Boots Hughston is.

“I have no idea who he is, and I wouldn’t help anyone out who didn’t have the sense to [properly] file for permits. He’s full of it, and his use of my name in that way offends me.”

Hughston’s second permit denial

June 1 saw a reprise of the dismal but not surprising news that Hughston and his volunteer organization, the Council of Light, were turned down a second time in their bid to obtain a permit for a free Summer of Love 50th anniversary concert in Golden Gate Park. In her second denial letter, permits manager Diane Rea advised Hughston that he failed to make progress on “important elements” nor had he secured the assistance of a more experienced concert promoter as per her previous request. Rea further berated Hughston for producing 50,000 flyers for a scaled-down concert that he promised would attract no more than 15,000. The final straw came when Hughston’s website made an unauthorized announcement of an August 27 event for which permission had not yet been obtained.

Real hippies or Sears hippies? [Image by Mario Tama/Getty Images]

Summer of Love concert supporters were rightfully frustrated when “real hippies” were denied a park permit in February. The second denial, which came just days before the City announced its own free 50th Anniversary Summer of Love concert, has some people in an understandable state of outrage. Rec and Park general manager, Phil Ginsburg, says San Francisco has been planning the June summer solstice event for several months. Hughston says Rec and Parks is “stealing” his event and that the City never informed him of plans to throw their own free concert to commemorate 1967’s fabled Summer of Love.

Why didn’t Boots keep his word to let someone else handle negotiations with the City?

Shortly after the City denied Hughston’s first 2017 permit application, the hopeful promoter promised to step aside and let San Francisco native and Haight-Ashbury district businesswoman, Sunshine Powers, represent the all-volunteer Council of Light when they submitted an improved permit application. It is unclear why Hughston reneged on his assurance that he would relinquish control during further permit negotiations.

Free concert and light show to celebrate the Summer of Love

The City-sanctioned 50th Anniversary Summer of Love Grand Lighting and Surrealistic Summer Solstice concert is slated for 6-10 p.m. on June 21 at the Conservatory of Flowers in Golden Gate Park. The privately funded solstice ‘happening’ will feature a free concert followed by a ceremonial lighting of the Victorian-era botanical greenhouse. Scheduled musical acts include members of The Chambers Brothers, the Terrapin Family Band, members of Jefferson Airplane, Motherhips, members of Quicksilver Messenger Service, and Moonalice. Dan “Lebo” Lebowitz is musical director of the Dawn Holliday-produced event.

Tie-dye attire is requested, and free Eventbrite reservations are recommended.

It may be worth noting that Boots’ website has been actively soliciting funds for some time, and there is no current word as to whether monies will be refunded now that Hughston’s hopes of hosting a free SOL concert seem to be squelched.

[Featured Image by An Vino/Shutterstock]

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