San Francisco (Be Sure to Wear Flowers in Your Hair)

"San Francisco (Be Sure To Wear Flowers In Your Hair)"
Single by Scott McKenzie
from the album The Voice of Scott McKenzie
B-side "What's the Difference"
Released May 13, 1967
Format 7" vinyl
Genre Psychedelic pop
Length 2:58
Label Columbia 2757 (UK and Canada)
Ode 103 (US)
Writer(s) John Phillips[1]
Producer(s) Lou Adler, John Phillips[1]
Scott McKenzie singles chronology
"No, No, No, No, No"
"San Francisco (Be Sure to Wear Flowers in Your Hair)"
"Look in Your Eyes"

"San Francisco (Be Sure to Wear Flowers in Your Hair)" is an American pop music song, written by John Phillips of The Mamas & the Papas, and sung by Scott McKenzie.[2] The song was produced and released in May 1967 by Phillips and Lou Adler, who used it to promote their Monterey International Pop Music Festival held in June of that year.[3] John Phillips played guitar on the recording and session musician Gary L. Coleman played orchestra bells and chimes. The bass line of the song was supplied by session musician Joe Osborn. Hal Blaine played drums. The song became one of the best-selling singles of the 1960s in the world, reaching the fourth position on the U.S. charts and the number one spot on the U.K. charts.

McKenzie's version of the song has been called "the unofficial anthem of the counterculture movement of the 1960s, including the Hippie, Anti-Vietnam War and Flower power movements."[4]


Phillips reported writing the song in about 20 minutes.[5]

The song, which tells the listeners, "If you're going to San Francisco, be sure to wear some flowers in your hair",[2] is credited with bringing thousands of young people to San Francisco, California, during the late 1960s.


Released on May 13, 1967, the song was an instant hit. By the week ending July 1, 1967, it reached the number four spot on the Billboard Hot 100 in the USA, where it remained for four consecutive weeks.[6] Meanwhile, the song rose to number one in the UK Singles Chart,[1] and most of Europe. The single is purported to have sold over seven million copies worldwide.[7] In Central Europe, young people adopted "San Francisco" as an anthem for freedom, and it was widely played during Czechoslovakia's 1968 Prague Spring uprising.

The song has been featured in several films, including Frantic, The Rock, and Forrest Gump. It was also played occasionally by Led Zeppelin as part of the improvised section in the middle of "Dazed and Confused". U2's Bono also led the audience in singing this song during their PopMart performances in the San Francisco Bay Area on June 18 and 19, 1997. New Order covered the song on July 11, 2014, at the Bill Graham Civic Auditorium in San Francisco.[8]

The Bee Gees song "Massachusetts" is a reaction to this song. The Bee Gees' song is about someone who has been to San Francisco but is now homesick for Massachusetts.

Other covers and samples

See also



  1. 1 2 3 Rice, Jo (1982). The Guinness Book of 500 Number One Hits (1st ed.). Enfield, Middlesex: Guinness Superlatives Ltd. p. 110. ISBN 0-85112-250-7.
  2. 1 2 Gilliland, John (1969). "Show 42 – The Acid Test: Psychedelics and a sub-culture emerge in San Francisco. [Part 2]" (audio). Pop Chronicles.
  3. Davis, Clive (February 19, 2013). "8: Monterey Pop". The Soundtrack of My Life. Simon & Schuster. pp. 62–64. ISBN 9781476714790.
  4. "Scott McKenzie, 1960s counter-culture singer, dies at 73". Telegraph. Retrieved 2014-04-06.
  5. John Phillips interviewed on the Pop Chronicles (1969)
  6. Whitburn, Joel (2004). The Billboard Book of Top 40 Hits: Eighth Edition. Record Research. p. 415.
  7. Carson, Jim (August 5, 2011). "Did You You: "San Francisco (Be Sure to Wear Flowers in Your Hair)" By Scott McKenzie". CBS Radio. Retrieved 2012-02-24.
  8. Youtube - New Order***Full Concert***Live at Bill Graham Civic Auditorium, SF, CA, July 11, 2014
  9. Discogs: Scott McKenzie – San Francisco (Remix '89)


Preceded by
"All You Need Is Love" by The Beatles
UK Singles Chart number one single
9 August 1967 (four weeks)
Succeeded by
"The Last Waltz" by Engelbert Humperdinck
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