While the word was out – the Beatles had been shown on television several times and “I Want To Hold Your Hand” had reached number one on the charts two weeks earlier – it was the arrival of the Beatles in America for their first tour that really set the British Invasion in motion.
Over the next few years other British acts, including, Peter and Gordon, The Animals, Manfred Mann, Petula Clark, Freddie and the Dreamers, Wayne Fontana and the Mindbenders, Herman’s Hermits, The Rolling Stones, The Dave Clark Five, The Troggs and Donovan, would have one or more number one singles in the USA. The British Invasion kept going for most of the Sixties, until the Californian sound of the late Sixties and early Seventies displaced it.
Rightly or wrongly, the Haight-Ashbury neighbourhood of San Francisco (i.e. the neighbourhood surrounding the intersection of Haight and Ashbury Streets, in central S.F.) was seen as the centre of the hippie movement of the 1960s. It was an older neighbourhood, a little run down – just the sort of place where bohemian communities have always taken root. But it was a July 7, 1967 cover story on Time magazine: “The Hippies: Philosophy of a Subculture” that took it mainstream for all American to see.
The Man. Always late to the party: by the mid-Sixties, Haight-Ashbury boasted free love, cheap and plentiful drugs, and a thriving live music and theatre scene, albeit much of it so experimental and inept (but deeply, deeply felt) that it could never have been commercially successful – which was at least half the point for a number of artists. But during 1967, the year of the “Summer of Love”, it really took off. The media couldn’t get enough of it, and Haight-Ashbury became the destination of pilgrimages and migrations of disaffected youths all over America.