Scott McKenzie 1939-2012 R.I.P.


If you’re going to
mourn, be sure to wear some flowers in your hair…


By Fred Mills


On Saturday (Aug. 18) singer/songwriter Scott McKenzie – who
scored with a massive international hit in 1967 by way of “San Francisco (Be
Sure to Wear Flowers In Your Hair,” which essentially became the de facto
anthem for that year’s Summer Of Love and the corresponding youth migration
westward – passed away at the age of 73. For some time he had battled
Guillain-Barre Syndrome, a nervous system disease, and had been hospitalized on
and off since 2010. The following post appeared yesterday on the website:


It is much sadness that we
report the passing of Scott McKenzie in LA on 18th August, 2012. Scott had
been very ill recently and passed away in his home after two weeks in
hospital. It has been our pleasure to maintain this web site over the past
15 years and this is the hardest update of them all.  Farewell our much
loved and wonderful friend.
Gary and Raylene Hartman


The corresponding message board at the site was flooded with
the words of fans wishing to pay their final respects to the musician.


McKenzie, born Phillip Wallach Blondheim, got his career
firmly in gear in the early ‘60s with a pre-Mamas & the Papas John Phillips
in a group called the Journeymen. Although he passed up an opportunity to
become one of the Papas, the Phillips connection proved fortuitous when
Phillips later wrote and produced “San
Francisco” for McKenzie and also tapped him to appear
at the Monterey Pop Festival in ’67. The two remained friends over the years,
although McKenzie essentially retired in the early ‘70s. However, in 1986 he
wound up joining a revived version of the Mamas & the Papas, bringing the
entire thing full circle. Years later, following Phillips’ death, McKenzie
performed at a Los Angeles
tribute concert for Phillips.


Below, watch a clip of McKenzie doing his signature tune at
the Monterey festival (for the film Monterey Pop), followed by what appears to be
the original promotional reel for the song (long before they were called
videos), and then by a more recent live performance.


 And on a personal
note, I’ll just add that the song, powered by McKenzie’s gift-from-the-angels
voice has been a fave of mine ever since, as a pre-teen, I first heard it come
over the radio in ’67. Years later I had a CD compilation of ‘60s hits that I
would play for my infant – and soon, toddler – son while driving around in the
car. “San Francisco”
very quickly and obviously become a favorite of his, too, and to this day, when
we hear it on the radio, or on TV, or in a store, he always looks up or turns
his head slightly in the direction of the source. At that moment, I imagine a
faraway look passing across his face… or perhaps simply a subliminal wistful
memory creasing his mind.


Thanks, Scott.




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