I learned two weeks ago, that Scott McKenzie died in August at the age of 73. He suffered from Guillain Barra syndrome which affects the nervous system.
It's taken a bit to digest this information.
I had the unique opportunity of actually spending time with Scott many years ago. What follows is a post I wrote back in January of 2010 on his birthday.
Here's to You Scott
After many years of working hard to make the big time, Scott McKenzie became an “over night” sensation with the song, “San Francisco (Be Sure to Wear a Flower in Your Hair)”.
Sudden fame brought with it a certain amount of stress and he realized he needed a break. He chose to escape to St. Thomas where, even if he were recognized, he wouldn’t be hounded. What was special/weird/neato/keen/far-out man is that he stayed with some friends of his who just happened to be my high school psychology teacher and her husband, my art teacher.
Scott spent many months in the islands between 1968 and ’69. Sometimes he came to our psych class and sang us a few songs.
He also came to our Junior/Senior prom which is when he gave me the post card pictured above. He was, by that time, such a fixture, it never occurred to me to ask him to autograph it. The coffee stain ring happened that night.
In June of 1969, I invited my teachers and Scott to my 19th birthday party, a week-end affair held at our guest house on St. John at Lillie Maho. The invitation was accepted. Scott arrived with guitar in tow. We all had a grand time. At one point he asked my sister and me for advice on a song he was working on. Did it need something more, an extra verse perhaps? After he sang it to us, we assured him it was beautiful just as it was. I like to think he took our advice, for when he returned to the states the song became the title track of his second album, “Stained Glass Morning.” He had left it just as he had sung it to us. If you are not familiar with "Stained Glass Morning," please take a few minutes to listen to this beautiful and haunting song. It is just as meaningful and powerful today as it was back in 1969.
But the true highlight of the evening came when he gave me his birthday present. He sat dowm in front of me and sang a song by Donovan called, “Celeste.” The world disappeared as he looked directly at me and no one else, his clear and beautiful tenor caressing my ears. Never before, and never since, have I been so intimately serenaded.
Thanks, Scott, for giving me such a wonderful memory, truly a gift that keeps on giving. I believe your soul is flying free and that your voice has mingled with Universe, becoming part of the music of the spheres.