Jim Marshall photos document SF’s Summer of Love

Jim Marshall, widely regarded as rock and roll’s premier photographer in the 1960s and 1970s, documents the Summer of Love in an exhibition in The City showcasing Marshall’s work and celebrating the 50th anniversary of some momentous counterculture.

You may want to wear some flowers in your hair after viewing “Jim Marshall’s 1967,” a show of 80 black-and-white and color photographs that capture the hippie movement, the advent of psychedelic-rock music and the Haight-Ashbury scene of the hippie era.

Presented by the San Francisco Arts Commission, the show runs through June 17 at San Francisco City Hall as part of citywide Summer of Love golden-anniversary festivities.

The San Francisco-bred Marshall (1936-2010) took pictures of everything from the jazz scene in the early 1960s to the Beatles at Candlestick Park in 1966 to Woodstock in 1969 to the Rolling Stones’ U.S. tour in 1972, and shot more than 500 album covers, during his half-century career.

But the events of 1967 were a standout for historic, indelible, photo-perfect moments, including San Francisco’s Summer of Love, when as many as 100,000 people, most young, gathered in the Haight-Ashbury neighborhood in the name of love, peace and anti-establishment ideals.

Reflecting both Marshall’s talent and luck in timing, the images in the exhibit illustrate the mood and music of the time with an intimacy and a lack of affectation — surely enabled by the unequaled access Marshall had to his subjects — Janis, Jimi, Jerry and other legends. Marshall described these relationships as built on trust.

The exhibit begins with pre-Summer of Love images, including those of the Human Be-In. The early-in-the-year happening drew more than 10,000 people to Golden Gate Park’s Polo Fields to hear music and speeches.

Pictured participants include Allen Ginsberg (chanting mantras), LSD guru Timothy Leary (urging everyone to “turn on, tune in, drop out”) and local bands such as the Jefferson Airplane and the Grateful Dead.

Music notables dominate Marshall’s images of the psychedelic summer, The Grateful Dead and Jimi Hendrix perform street concerts in the Panhandle. The Jefferson Airplane’s Grace Slick, wearing paisley pants, arrives from Los Angeles with drummer Spencer Dryden, in presumably groovy plaid. Janis Joplin relaxes in her Lyon Street apartment.

The Monterey Pop Festival, too, provided Marshall with terrific material. Pictured acts include the Jimi Hendrix Experience, Big Brother and the Holding Company (with Joplin), the Who and Otis Redding.

Additional subjects include Joan Baez, Eric Clapton, Moby Grape, Quicksilver Messenger Service, Ken Kesey, the Hells Angels and Bill Graham.

Also on view are scenes of political activity and everyday Haight-Ashbury life: antiwar protests, crash pads, free-clinic visits and long-haired individuals identified as simply “Hippie.”

Jim Marshall’s 1967
Where: City Hall, 1 Dr. Carlton B. Goodlett Place, S.F.
When: 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Mondays-Fridays; closes June 17
Admission: Free
Contact: (415) 252-2244, www.sfartscommission.org

Leslie Katz

San Francisco Examiner’s arts and entertainment editor Leslie Katz has been assigning, editing and/or writing news stories about the Bay Area’s rich cultural scene since 1997. Reach her at (415) 359-2727 or lkatz@sfexaminer.com.

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