Scott McKenzie – The Voice Of Scott McKenzie (1967)

FrontCover1Scott McKenzie (born Philip Wallach Blondheim III; January 10, 1939 – August 18, 2012) was an American singer and songwriter. He was best known for his 1967 hit single and generational anthem, “San Francisco (Be Sure to Wear Flowers in Your Hair)”.

Philip Wallach Blondheim III was born in Jacksonville, Florida, on January 10, 1939, as the son of Philip Wallach Blondheim, Jr. and the former Dorothy Winifred Hudson. His family moved to Asheville, North Carolina, when he was six months old. He grew up in North Carolina and Alexandria, Virginia, where he became friends with John Phillips, the son of one of his mother’s friends. In the mid-1950s, he sang briefly with Tim Rose in a high school group called The Singing Strings. He graduated high school from St Stephens School for Boys in Alexandria, VA.

Later, with Phillips, Mike Boran, and Bill Cleary, he formed a doo wop band, The Abstracts.

In New York, The Abstracts became The Smoothies and recorded two singles with Decca Records, produced by Milt Gabler. During his time with The Smoothies, Blondheim decided to change his name for business reasons:

“[We] were working at one of the last great night clubs, The Elmwood Casino in Windsor, Ontario. We were part of a variety show … three acts, dancing girls, and the entire cast took part in elaborate, choreographed stage productions … As you might imagine, after-show parties were common.


“At one of these parties I complained that nobody could understand my real name … [and] pointed out that this was a definite liability in a profession that benefited from instant name recognition. Everyone started trying to come up with a new name for me. It was [comedian] Jackie Curtis who said he thought I looked like a Scottie dog. Phillips came up with Laura’s middle name after Jackie’s suggestion. I didn’t like being called ‘Scottie’ so everybody agreed my new name could be ‘Scott McKenzie.'”

In 1961, Phillips and McKenzie met Dick Weissman and formed the folk group, The Journeymen, at the height of the folk music craze. They recorded three albums and seven singles for Capitol Records. After The Beatles became popular in 1964, The Journeymen disbanded.[6] McKenzie and Weissman became solo performers, while Phillips formed the group The Mamas & the Papas with Denny Doherty, Cass Elliot, and Michelle Phillips and moved to California.

ScottMcKenzie02McKenzie originally declined an opportunity to join the group, saying in a 1977 interview, “I was trying to see if I could do something by myself. And I didn’t think I could take that much pressure.” Two years later, he left New York and signed with Lou Adler’s Ode Records.
“San Francisco (Be Sure to Wear Some Flowers In Your Hair)”

Phillips wrote and co-produced “San Francisco (Be Sure to Wear Flowers in Your Hair)” for McKenzie. 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.

It was released on 13 May 1967 in the United States and was an instant hit, reaching number 4 on the Billboard Hot 100 and number 2 in the Canadian RPM Magazine charts. It was also a number 1 in the UK and several other countries, selling over seven million copies globally.

McKenzie followed the song with “Like an Old Time Movie”, which Phillips also wrote, composed, and produced, but which was a minor hit (number 27 in Canada). His first album, The Voice of Scott McKenzie, was followed with an album called Stained Glass Morning. He stopped recording in the early 1970s and lived in Joshua Tree, California, and Virginia Beach, Virginia.


In his own right, McKenzie likewise wrote and composed the song “What About Me” that launched the career of Canadian singer Anne Murray in 1968. (Murray’s United States breakthrough, with Gene McLellan’s “Snowbird”, would not follow for several years.)

In 1986, he started singing with a new version of The Mamas and the Papas. With Terry Melcher, Mike Love, and John Phillips, he co-wrote “Kokomo” (1988), a number 1 single for The Beach Boys.

By 1998, he had retired from the road version of The Mamas and the Papas, and resided in Los Angeles, California, until his death. He appeared at the Los Angeles tribute concert for John Phillips in 2001, amongst other 1960s contemporary acts.

McKenzie died on August 18, 2012, at the age of 73, in Los Angeles. He had suffered from Guillain–Barré syndrome from 2010 until his death. (wikipedia)


There was more to Scott McKenzie than “San Francisco,” though this album came out so long after that single peaked on the charts that few people ever bothered to buy it. There’s nothing here quite like the title song, and none of the rest captures a magical mood or moment the way that the single did, though there is some very pretty music. McKenzie’s rendition of Donovan’s “Celeste” has a languid beauty, while his version of John Sebastian and Zal Yanovsky’s “It’s Not Time Now” is a more standard, rhythmic folk-rock piece. For reasons perhaps best known to himself, however, McKenzie’s voice doesn’t have as much range or flexibility on those two numbers as it seemed to show on “San Francisco.” But when he does one of his originals, his expressiveness blooms, and he stays fairly strong on all of the rest.


That includes Tim Hardin’s “Reason to Believe” (one of the better renditions that song has ever received) and “No, No, No, No, No,” a hook-laden piece about sexual pursuit and frustration with an exquisite orchestral accompaniment behind a lean, punchy acoustic band sound; and Hardin’s haunting, cautionary “Don’t Make Promises.” Still, the songs that McKenzie does best here are the John Phillips-authored works — beyond the title cut, those include “Like an Old Time Movie” and “Twelve-Thirty.” The latter has a poignancy here that the more familiar version by the Mamas & the Papas misses; one gets the illusion of a personal confessional, so closely does McKenzie seem to embrace the lyric. Some of his singing is still a bit too bland, but overall this would have been a promising first effort, had McKenzie been of more of a mind to follow it up quickly. (by Bruce Eder)

And yes … his “San Francisco” was one of my favourite songs in theSixties … OriginalBC1

Hal Blaine (drums)
Gary L Coleman (orchestra bells, chimes)
Scott McKenzie (vocals)
Joe Osborn (bass)
John Phillips (guitar)

Alternate frontcovers:

01. San Francisco (Be Sure To Wear Flowers In Your Hair) (Phillips) 3.00
02. Celeste (Leitch) 3.32
03. It’s Not Time Now (Sebastian/Yanovsky) 2.48
04. Whats The Difference (Chapter II) (McKenzie) 2.43
05. Reason To Believe (Hardin) 2.22
06. Like An Old Time Movie (Phillips) 3.15
07. No, No, No, No, No (Stephens/Polnareff) 2.51
08. Don’t Make Promises (Hardin) 3.54
09. Twelve-Thirty (Phillips) 3.16
10. Rooms (Phillips) 3.27
11. What’s The Difference (Chapter I) (McKenzie)
12. What’s The Difference (Single mix) (McKenzie) 2.18
13. San Francisco (Be Sure To Wear Some Flowers In Your Hair) (Mono version) (Phillips) 2.56
14. Like An Old Time Movie (Mono single mix) (Phillips) 3.16
15. What’s The Difference (Chapter II) (Mono single version) (McKenzie) 2.17
16 Celeste (Mono single version) (Leitch) 3.31
17 No, No, No, No, No (Mono single version) (Stephens/Polnareff) 2.52
18. Holy Man (McKenzie/Phillips) 2.47
19. What’s The Difference (Chapter III) 3.36


ScottMcKenzie04Scott McKenzie (January 10, 1939 – August 18, 2012)

If you’re going to San Francisco
Be sure to wear some flowers in your hair
If you’re going to San Francisco
You’re gonna meet some gentle people there

For those who come to San Francisco
Summertime will be a love-in there
In the streets of San Francisco
Gentle people with flowers in their hair

All across the nation, such a strange vibration
People in motion
There’s a whole generation with a new explanation
People in motion, people in motion

For those who come to San Francisco
Be sure to wear some flowers in their hair
If you come to San Francisco
Summertime will be a love-in there

If you come to San Francisco
Summertime will be a loving day

1 thought on “Scott McKenzie – The Voice Of Scott McKenzie (1967)

  1. The vfact that you mention a new version of the Mamas and Papas in thev1980s was a surprise. In all my reading and listening I’ve never run across one reference to this.


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