Rare Footage of the “Human Be-In,” the Landmark Counter-Culture Event Held in Golden Gate Park, 1967

in History, Music | September 28th, 2014

Investigative reporter Steve Silberman awesomely flagged this video for us today. He writes:

This seems to have just surfaced: the most complete recording of the Human Be-In in Golden Gate Park in 1967 that I have ever seen, by far. It opens with Allen Ginsberg and Gary Snyder chanting, Michael McClure follows, and the Grateful Dead (with adorable footage of Allen dancing) pop up at about 14:00. At 18:00, Dizzy Gillespie is smiling in the audience. So much mythical noumenon has piled up around these events over the decades it’s almost inevitable that the real thing seems a little banal compared to one’s imagination, but it’s still cool.

If you’re not quite familiar with what the Human Be-In, held on January 14, 1967, was all about, let me refer you to this succinct description by a web site called Magic Bus San Francisco: “Announced on the cover of the first edition of the counter-culture zine San Francisco Oracle, the ‘Gathering of the Tribes’ or ‘Human Be-In’ as it came to be known, was the prototype of all 1960s counter culture celebrations. The Human Be-In precipitated the legendary Summer of Love, and made San Francisco’s Haight-Ashbury the epicenter of the burgeoning hippie movement.


The Be-In featured all the luminaries of psychedelic counter-culture, including Timothy Leary, Allen Ginsberg, Gary Snyder, Richard Alpert (Ram Dass), Dick Gregory, Lenore Kandel, and Jerry Ruben.  Many of the Haight’s best musical acts also performed, including the Grateful Dead and Quicksilver Messenger Service.” As a curious side note, the Dead didn’t get a mention in the poster promoting the event. Is that because they were a late addition? I’m not sure.

Human_be-in_poster

Related Content:

The Historic LSD Debate at MIT: Timothy Leary v. Professor Jerome Lettvin (1967)

The Night When Miles Davis Opened for the Grateful Dead in 1970: Hear the Complete Recordings

8,976 Free Grateful Dead Concert Recordings in the Internet Archive

The Acid Test Reels: Ken Kesey & The Grateful Dead’s Soundtrack for the 1960s Famous LSD Parties

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Comments (4)

  1. LegsLambert says . . .
    September 28, 2014 / 8:29 pm

    The poster “promoting the event” is an obvious fake, printed many years after the fact as part of a sizable industry devoted to hawking bogus memorabilia, including posters for concerts that never actually happened. While the Human Be-In did, in fact, happen, and had some beautiful posters and handbills designed by the same great artists who did such memorable work for the Fillmore and Avalon, that cheap-looking thing depicted here was not one of them. One blatant giveaway: the advertised appearance of “Santana,” when no band by that name even existed at that point, let alone played the Be-In. The Carlos Santana Blues Band had just been formed, didn’t start getting noticed in the Bay Area until later in 1967 and didn’t change its name to just plain Santana until 1968.

  2. Tracy says . . .
    June 25, 2016 / 8:32 pm

    the above poster (!) is absolutely correct about the POSTER (!) it is a fake.

    If you want to see one of the originals (there were several at the time) which does list the grateful dead, there is a reprint of it in Martin Lee and Bruce Shlain’s excellent book “Acid Dreams.” I think this poster, with the Native American playing a guitar while riding a horse, was done by Stanley Mouse. correct me if I’m wrong.

  3. Pat says . . .
    July 12, 2016 / 11:48 am

    Sad, very sad. For some reason this was made out to be a seminal event in the history of America, when in reality it was a mess. Silly men dressed up in their guru outfits pretending to be great spiritual leaders,crowds of gawkers wandering the boardwalk of psychedelia, out of tune rock bands grinding away while stoned out kids lost their reality (and many, their virginity) in a vulgar carnival of stinking thinking. As Shakespeare once said, “A tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury and signifying nothing.”

    And what did it amount to? 50 years later we end up with Hillary Clinton running for president. Change the world? I think not.

  4. henri_cervantes says . . .
    July 13, 2016 / 2:41 am

    i doubt that anyone there would now connect it with the current political climate. the obvious chain of consequences leads in a different direction. the people here and inspired by this line of thinking were responsible for the computer revolution. i suppose you could blame the Google bus on them.

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