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

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.


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 (16)
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  • LegsLambert says:

    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.

  • Tracy says:

    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.

  • Pat says:

    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.

  • henri_cervantes says:

    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.

  • Carl Russo says:

    Well, Pat, I daresay reactionary attitudes like yours was exactly what the kids were rebelling against, to the point of dropping out altogether.

  • Linda kelly says:

    Fantastic article and footage! Thank you Dan Coleman! Would live to have you write for new mag digital and print, The Haight Street Voice on FB now and monthly print hits the stands January 27, 2017!

  • GabbyCadaver says:

    Good catch on the bands. The actual original poser designed by Stanley Mouse (it’s on the Wikipedia page for the Human Be-In has in large type at the bottom “ALL SF GROUPS”

  • Harold Scroggy says:

    No wonder Kerouac had a breakdown . . . with fruity friends like that.

  • Billius says:

    It’s amazing that this was 50 years ago when I was merely 8. Tkink of the country 50 years before that. Then what will be 50 years from now?

  • Diana says:

    I was there, though I recall nothing about the program. I went with my two older sisters and we dressed for a festival and sat on the grass away from the crowd but with plenty going on around us, glad to be part of a movement that valued freedom, greater consiousness, love, peace and beauty. Very fun to see this! Thanks for posting it.

  • Scott Appleton says:

    The event started a larger movement of peaceful folks trying to communicate acceptance and human warmth. those who do not see the value in these things are counter productive to the survival of us all. I was one of the many in SF participating in opening hearts and minds to the beauty of creation. If all this seems immaterial to current trends i think your soul is stuck in survival mode. I would suggest meditation and peyote may help you to see past the roadblocks in your evolution. YMMD

  • Martin says:

    The video depicts the scene well. I was there. Diana’s comment from a year ago says it well. What I recall is how little attention I and the people around me were giving to what was happening on the platform. The event was not happening in front of the microphones. It was simply to Be there. The “gathering of the tribes” I remember as having the intent of joining Berkeley “politicos” with Haight “hippies” (though not called that at the time). I recall sitting on the grass. People were wandering around, as in the video, looking for something to happen. But nothing did: some poems, some bands, some people trying to get attention and mostly not getting it. Gary Snyder and Allen Ginsberg set the tone. This was not to be a “star production” with an audience. Of course a lot of people were more or less stoned in a mellow, somewhat bored way. We gathered. And then we went home.

  • Henderson Wallace says:

    Is this Scotty Appleton from El sciroccos in Burlingame…..Henderson

  • Tom Spiro says:

    I’ve been watching videos and reading up on events like this and the Magic Mountain festival since I have been waiting for our little pandemic to pass on. It’s great to have this insight into the Be-In, especially the walk through the crowd which give a great feel for the gathering. Love hearing stories from those days, and wish I hadn’t been so young as to miss out(8 yo at the time). Maybe one day we will actually see the world as our garden instead of our dumping ground. Peace! PS. WFT! Pat?

  • Terry Lutts says:

    I was there. I was going to U.C. Berkeley at the time. It was a very cool event.

  • Jeff says:

    The one with the Indian on a horse was done by Rick Griffin. The one was Stanley “mouse” Miller had a photo of a yogi looking guy with a green triangle and a third eye in his forehead that was drawn in.

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