Let us hail June 1967, the greatest month in the history of rock ‘n’ roll!!! Indulge me, please, in that pie-eyed declaration. It just might be accurate. Here’s why.
June 1, 1967: It’s been a long time since the last Beatles album. August of ‘66, to be exact, when Revolver came out. Since then, the Fabs have stopped playing concerts, taken desperately needed time off, and slowly begun to concoct some interesting sonic experiments at Abbey Road. With the notable exception of one of the greatest singles in rock history, “Strawberry Fields Forever/Penny Lane” (Feb. ‘67), nobody’s heard a peep from them.
All questions are answered decisively and impressively when Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band is released on the 1st. The collective mind of the hipster world is thoroughly blown within 48 hours. As Paul said in Rolling Stone’s 40th Anniversary Issue, “Then when it came out, it was fantastic. … Everyone you talked to knew about it. … They’d say things like ‘Long live Sgt. Pepper!’ That was the feeling, and it was a great feeling. Jesus, it just knocked everyone for six.”
June 16-18, 1967: The scene shifts to Northern California. Taking center stage is the first, and arguably greatest, rock festival ever. Two weeks after the revelations of Pepper comes the perfect psychedelicized superconcert—Monterey Pop. This is one screamin’ party, anchored by an excellent roster of performers. The Saturday lineup alone was legendary. In order of appearance: Canned Heat, Big Brother w/ Janis, Country Joe & The Fish, Al Kooper, The Butterfield Blues Band, Quicksilver, The Steve Miller Band, The Electric Flag, Moby Grape, Hugh Masekela, The Byrds, Laura Nyro, Jefferson Airplane, Booker T & the M.G.'s, and Otis Redding. It’s enough to make an aging Boomer kiss the sky in tribute.
June 25: Yet another Big Thing, and it’s back to London. It’s the first planet-wide broadcast of anything, a lofty 18-country extravaganza called “Our World,” described as “linking five continents and bringing man face to face with mankind.” The Beatles, natch, are invited to participate, and it just so happens that John has a nifty new tune all good to go for this special event. The lads turn an estimated 500,000,000 people (!) on to “All You Need is Love” —the anthem of anthems for this great, grand summer that will be nothing less than a crucial pivot point for human history itself.
That part didn’t go as planned. By October, the heads in the Haight were having a funeral procession for themselves, declaring the Death of Hippie. But in June ‘67, the most happening June ever, just about anything must have seemed possible.