Jefferson Starship Leads San Francisco Protest

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Jefferson Starship in 2014. David Freiberg is second from left. The late Paul Kantner is fourth from left

When San Francisco city officials refused to grant a permit for a free concert in Golden Gate Park celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Summer of Love, one band with deep roots in the city had something to say about that. The current lineup of Jefferson Starship only includes one musician who was in the original band that formed in 1974, singer/bassist David Freiberg—and none from Jefferson Airplane, the group from which it sprang—but the musicians turned up at a protest at San Francisco’s City Hall last Thursday to let the Recreation and Park Commission know they disapprove of the decision and to lend support to the organizers of the now-shelved event.

The concert was the brainchild of Boots Hughston, a longtime promoter of musical and cultural events in the city. Hughston’s plan was to mark the 50th anniversary of the so-called Summer of Love, generally considered to be the period in 1967 when thousands of young people arrived in San Francisco to become a part of the nascent hippie dream. Jefferson Airplane, which formed in 1965, was the most popular band in the city at that time, with two big radio hits, “Somebody to Love” and “White Rabbit,” spreading their reputation internationally and drawing more attention to the cultural upheaval that was taking place in the Bay Area.

Related: Is Starship’s “We Built This City” really the “worst song ever?”

Hughston applied for a permit to stage a three-hour free event in the park on June 4, but the city rejected the proposal, saying that Hughston had made “numerous misrepresentations” about his plans for security and crowd control. Hughston claimed that he had already lined up about two dozen artists to perform at the celebration.

Jefferson Airplane’s classic from 1967

Freiberg was among the members of Jefferson Starship to join a protest against the decision on the steps of City Hall. He was quoted in Billboard as saying, “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. I see no reason why we can’t work this out.”

The Billboard article quoted a woman named Trinna Robbins, who said, “The worst thing that might happen is a bunch of senior citizens get stoned on pot. We need this concert. We need it. I know we can all work this out together. We have to.”

The commissioners said that Hughston can resubmit his application, and the promoter said he intends to do so.

Watch a full-length documentary about the Summer of Love

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