Scott McKenzie Passes Away, May he find some “gentle people there”
Submitted by Don Graham
Scott McKenzie of whom producer Lou Adler once said “ He sings like an angel. Scott McKenzie has one of the most beautiful voices to ever have a rock ‘n’ roll hit” has died at age 73 in Los Angeles, California. He is perhaps best known for his 1967 hit single "San Francisco (Be Sure to Wear Flowers in Your Hair)." “San Francisco” was written by John Phillips, the leader of the 1960’s group The Mamas and the Papas. But McKenzie sang it and it has stood as an anthem for the 1960s flower power movement for decades.
Phillips and McKenzie, along with Dick Weisman, formed The Journeymen in 60’s, which Phillips left to form the Mama and Papas. McKenzie was originally pegged to be a Papa but declined to pursue a solo career. That cleared the way for Nova Scotian Denny Doherty to join. McKenzie would later replace Doherty in a 90’s version of the group.
Canadian guitarist Bob Cohen of Montreal worked with a version of that band that included Scott McKenzie and remarked what a nice guy he was and said of the signature song “San Francisco”, ” We all know what that song meant to our generation and for years I played it in bars with different singers. The first time Scott McKenzie opened his mouth to sing it while I was on stage with him, the feeling was indescribable. No one but him could do that song justice.”
In the 21st Century Scott still performed on occasions. He performed in Germany and in 2003 performed on a PBS Folk special. During March 2005, PBS broadcast a concert called "My Generation -- the 60's Experience." In the show Scott sings “San Francisco” and at the end of the program – unannounced – a song called “We've Been Asking Questions”, one of the last songs written by John Phillips before his death in 2001. In 2009 Scott recorded the Denny Doherty song “Gone To Sea Again.”
In retirement Scott lived in LA and became a big fan of Facebook where he had many friends in his "Asylum". Scott was in and out of hospital since 2010 after falling ill with Guillain-Barre Syndrome, a disease affecting the nervous system. It is thought he may have had a heart attack in early August 2012. Staff did not want him to leave the hospital, but he wanted to be at home and passed away on 18th August 2012.
His last Facebook message included a poem written just days before his death.
The Final Ride © Scott McKenzie (17 August 2012)
But, OH! How I wish I was a true cowboy,
with a great Appaloosa waiting to gallop away,
me sitting on his back, deep into my desert,
far beyond my precious Joshua Tree,
where dreams are made, beautiful dreams,
but this time I need to travel deep into the unknown.
And will I ever come back?
Right now I say no, never.
Oh well, a dream's a dream's a dream's a dream.
Oh, but my mighty Appaloosa's eyes keep firing up,
and his nostrils keep flaring as he transcends the stink and pettiness beneath him,
half riding, half flying toward place still unscarred by any unnatural activity
Onward and upward! full speed ahead,
my beautiful, majestic appaloosa!
carry us all to the regions where we can dream,
with no fear at all,
uninterrupted and forever free from fear.
Rest in peace Scott, wherever you go we hope you “find some gentle people there.”