photo by Roger Stomperud
ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN THE GEORGIA STRAIGHT, APRIL 16, 1992
“This ain’t the Garden of Eden
There ain’t no angels above
And things ain’t what they used to be
And this ain’t the summer of love.”
—Blue Oyster Cult
There never will be another summer of love, at least not the kind Vancouver witnessed 25 years ago. Hair, hippies, and hangin’ out—not to mention hassles with the Establishment—were the order of the day back then. “Great Bus Stop Bust” screamed the headline in the first edition of the Georgia Straight, May 5, 1967; a cartoon in the third issue pictured peaceful hippies holding placards reading “We Love Everyone” and “No Complaints”, and a cop yelling at them, “You guys trying to start trouble?”
In order to escape the bad vibes brought on by police persecution and the “Longhairs Out!” policy of mayor Tom Campbell, music-loving Vancouverites indulged in events like the Be-In. At the time, Lindsay Mitchell—who would later gain fame as the guitarist for Prism—was a teenage member of the Seeds of Time, and he still remembers playing the very first Be-In with the likes of Country Joe and the Fish and the United Empire Loyalists.
“Matter of fact, I was just down at the Stanley Park pitch-and-putt with one of my sons,” he says, “and at the 10th or 11th hole I looked right over into Ceperley Park and just sort of flashed back.”
Mitchell and his reunited Seeds of Time buddies—singer Geoff Edington, bassist Al Harlow, keyboardist John Hall, and drummer Rocket Norton—will be reliving that past again on Easter Sunday (April 19) at the 25th Anniversary Easter Be-In. The free gig at Stanley Park’s Lumberman’s Arch—a benefit for the Vancouver Food Bank—will also feature Jim Byrnes, Shari Ulrich, Chris Houston’s Evil Twang, Bruno Gerussi’s Medallion, Pete and the Sneaks, Gail Bowen and Straight Up, Crazy Fingers, Spring, Sunshine, Hydro Electric Streetcar, Brain Damage, and Lenny George.
The Seeds of Time have only performed on rare occasions since dissolving in the mid-’70s, but this current reunion has produced a CD, Immortal. The 19-tune collection includes three tracks recorded last year and live performances from the PNE Gardens in ’69, Breakers in ’73, and the Penticton Peach Bowl in ’74.
“We went all over on this search for Seeds of Time material,” says Mitchell. “We phoned anybody that might have been connected with us—fans, old soundmen—and we just pulled in all these tapes. Sometimes the performance was great but the sound quality was terrible, or the sound quality was great and the performance was terrible, so we took everything into the studio and tried to take out the snap, crackle, and pop.”
The band also managed to plumb the CBC vaults to come up with their performance on the ’60s TV show Let’s Go, which became the basis for a new video that premièred on MuchMusic a couple of weeks back. The sight of the Seeds rockin’ out in ’67 helped restore Mitchell’s recollections of the band’s heyday, which involved opening for the likes of Ten Years After and Rod Stewart and the Faces.
“We did a lot of big shows in those days,” he says. “The music industry wasn’t as huge and monolithic as it is now, so it was still possible for a local band to back up a touring band at the Coliseum or the Agrodome or the Gardens, and more often than not it was us.”
Although they shared the stage with some of the world’s most popular acts—and were one of Vancouver’s top musical attractions—the Seeds of Time never rose to national prominence, and Mitchell has a few ideas why.
“In the mid- to late-’60s there really wasn’t any Canadian recording industry. I mean it was a totally different time. There was no network of agents and gigs where a band with a charted record in Vancouver and Toronto could make it across the country; bands used to play high schools and things like that.
“And also we were quite cocky,” he adds. “We had an offer from one label to record an album, but they wanted to assign a producer to us. We didn’t want any music industry big-wigs telling us what to do, so that basically insured our lack of success. We were long on attitude, put it that way.”
A write-up on the very first Ceperley Park Be-In in the August 21, 1967 edition of the Vancouver Sun tells of “hundreds of gaily-dressed hippies and would-be hippies” who attended the event, which was “sponsored by the hippy newspaper Georgia Straight”. Mitchell recalls well what this paper had to go through to keep afloat while the Establishment tried to suppress its outspoken idealism.
“I can’t remember the number of benefits that we—and several other bands—did to keep the Georgia Straight in business, cause McLeod [Straight founder/publisher Dan McLeod] kept getting in trouble—for what I can’t imagine, really, just words.
“But I figure he owes us big time,” chuckles Mitchell. “The Straight would be in the toilet right now if it wasn’t for us.”