Summer of Love: Jefferson Airplane’s ‘Surrealistic Pillow’ Turns 50

26 Jan Summer of Love: Jefferson Airplane’s ‘Surrealistic Pillow’ Turns 50

Read the original article at The Mercury News.

It’s time to celebrate the Summer of Love.

 We’ll be doing it all year long to mark the 50th anniversary (1967-2017) of the season that changed, well, everything – fashion, politics, community and, most certainly, music.
Of course, it was a very good time for pop/rock music, delivering such iconic offerings as the Rolling Stones’ “Between the Buttons,” Jimi Hendrix Experience’s “Are You Experienced” and the eponymous debuts of the Doors, Grateful Dead, Moby Grape and the Velvet Underground and Nico. And let’s not forget the most famous album of the period — the Beatles’ “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band”

Yet, the album that sums up Summer of Love better than any other may well be the Jefferson Airplane’s “Surrealistic Pillow.” It stands as the most fully realized vision of the fabled “San Francisco Sound,” a colorful, swirling dose of psychedelic rock that mesmerized a nation of young men and women and signaled the dawn of a new era in music.

“That was the real album of the Summer of Love – not ‘Sgt. Pepper’s,’” says longtime Bay Area music critic Joel Selvin, author of the vastly insightful book “Summer of Love: The Inside Story of LSD, Rock & Roll, Free Love and High Times in the Wild West.”

“Surrealistic Pillow,” released Feb. 1, 1967, turns 50 next week. To mark the occasion, some talented musicians are getting together to pay tribute to the groundbreaking album at the Surrealistic Superjam — SF Summer of Love 50th Anniversary Concert on Jan. 31 at the Fillmore in San Francisco.

“Surrealistic Pillow” was the mighty Bay Area act’s second studio outing, following 1966’s “Jefferson Airplane Takes Off.” But it was the first Airplane album to feature the amazing Grace Slick, who secured the success of “Surrealistic Pillow” with her powerhouse vocal work on the anthems “Somebody to Love” and “White Rabbit.”

“Those two songs were the twin drivers of the Summer of Love,” Selvin says.

Soon, everyone was talking about this new direction of rock, which was edgier, less pop-influenced, than what had come before. The fascination even propelled Jefferson Airplane to the cover of Life magazine, as part of a big spread exploring what was dubbed as “The New Rock.”

“(Surrealistic Pillow) was not just the breakthrough album of the San Francisco scene, which everyone had been hearing about but had not actually heard,” Selvin says. “But it was the establishing moment of ‘new rock.’”