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'San Francisco' singer Scott McKenzie dies at 73

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
August 20th, 2012
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Scott McKenzie, best known for the hippie anthem "San Francisco (Be Sure to Wear Flowers in Your Hair)," which became a worldwide hit in 1967 during the "Summer of Love" - has died. The 73-year-old singer had long battled Guillain-Barre Syndrome, a disease of the nervous system, and had been in and out of the hospital over the past two years.

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - "Scott had been very ill recently and passed away in his home after two weeks in hospital," an official statement read. McKenzie had suffered a heart attack earlier this month. "Farewell our much loved and wonderful friend."

"San Francisco" was written by John Phillips, the leader of the 1960s group The Mamas and the Papas. McKenzie and Phillips met in Virginia as teenagers, where they formed a doo-wop band called The Abstracts. "San Francisco" stood as an anthem for the 1960s counterculture movement, and was even adopted as an anthem for freedom in Eastern bloc nations who were then struggling with old Soviet-style repression.

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.

Released in May of 1967 in the United States, "San Francisco" was an instant hit, reaching number four on the Billboard Hot 100. It was also a number one in the U.K. and several other countries, selling over seven million copies globally.

McKenzie followed the song with "Like an Old Time Movie", also written and produced by Phillips, which was a minor hit. 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 divided his time between Joshua Tree, California, and Virginia Beach, Virginia.

In 1986, he started singing with a new version of The Mamas and the Papas.

McKenzie also co-wrote "Kokomo," a No. 1 hit for The Beach Boys in 1988, and toured with The Mamas and the Papas in the 1990s.

By 1998, he had retired from the road version of The Mamas and 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.

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