Aging rockers from Jefferson Starship led a protest on the steps of City Hall to send a message to San Francisco officials: We built this city on free rock and roll.
Thursday’s protest and a hearing inside City Hall that followed marked the latest twist in a battle with the city to hold a free concert in Golden Gate Park for the 50th anniversary of the Summer of Love.
The June 4 show might still go on but it hit another major bureaucratic hurdle.
San Francisco’s Recreation and Park Commission ruled after a nearly 3-hour public hearing to uphold the Feb. 7 decision of its permit department to deny a permit for the concert. The department says its denial was issued because the concert promoter had made “numerous misrepresentations” about security and crowd control, leaving officials concerned about public safety.
However, the commission told promoters at the hearing that they can resubmit an application to address the department’s concerns.
Promoter Boots Hughston said he will “definitely resubmit” the application and still hopes the event can take place.
“My advice to Boots,” said his lawyer Ken Wine, “is to take the show to Oakland. Because the heart of San Francisco just got crushed today.”
The “Summer of Love 50th Anniversary” concert was to be a focal point of citywide cultural events to mark the 1960s counterculture movement that was centered in San Francisco.
Hughston said he’d already lined up about two dozen performers for the event at Golden Gate Park’s Polo Field including the remnants of Jefferson Airplane and its off-shoot Jefferson Starship, Big Brother and the Holding Company which was fronted by Janis Joplin and the Santana Blues Band.
“The best thing we ever did was to play for free in the park. How can you celebrate the Summer of Love without that? It’s impossible” said David Freiberg, a vocalist and bassist with Airplane and Starship. “I see no reason why we can’t work this out.”
Freiberg was joined on the steps of City Hall by drummer Donny Baldwin and other greying rockers, dressed in all black, and dozens of other self-declared former hippies. Many made passionate pleas for the permit at the public hearing, telling the commissioners this might be the last big Summer of Love celebration for their generation.
“The worst thing that might happen is a bunch of senior citizens get stoned on pot,” said Trinna Robbins, who described herself as a veteran of the 1960s. “We need this concert. We need it. I know we can all work this out together. We have to.”