SAN FRANCISCO — It’s not all love in the commemoration of the Summer of Love.
Plans for a free concert in Golden Gate Park to mark the iconic summer’s 50th anniversary have turned into a war of words between the city of San Francisco and an independent concert promoter.
The city’s Recreation and Park Department announced this week it will host the “Surrealistic Summer Solstice ,” a four-hour jam “featuring over 40 legendary musicians” on June 21. The lineup includes members of Jefferson Airplane, the Grateful Dead and other bands of that era, who will perform in front of the park’s landmark Conservatory of Flowers. The Victorian-era glass greenhouse will be illuminated in a psychedelic tapestry of lights to kick off a nightly lightshow that will run through October.
“The Summer of Love symbolizes the free spirit of San Francisco and a generation of civic rebellion,” former Mayor Willie Brown said in the city’s statement, which was released Tuesday and worded to address criticism of the event. “This is exactly why the City of San Francisco should take the lead in organizing this event to once again demonstrate the same fortitude our city has today, just as we did in the 1960s.”
That sentiment is not shared by promoter Boots Hughston, who has twice had permits denied by the Recreation and Park Department to hold a similar event in the park. The city first rejected a request for a June 4 “Summer of Love 50th anniversary” concert saying Hughston had made “numerous misrepresentations” about security and crowd control leaving them concerned about public safety. A week ago, the city denied a renewed request for the concert to take place Aug. 27, saying Hughston had advertised the event before getting his permit.
“This is their way of usurping our event,” Hughston said. “The depths these guys are going to to try to stop our event is unbelievable.”
The city did not immediately return calls for a direct comment to Hughston’s accusation.
Hughston, who has organized other large concerts in Golden Gate Park, called the Summer of Love controversy a shame.
“It’s a commemoration of peace and love and compassion, and here we are in a huge fight,” he said.