4/9/14 – The Flower Pot Men – Let’s Go To San Francisco – 1967

The Flower Pot Men (1967)Let’s Go To San Francisco was a hit without a band. The song was written by Ken Lewis and John Carter (both pseudonyms) who had operated in different incarnations as singers, songwriters and band members. Writing Herman’s Hermits No.1 US hit Don’t You Hear My Heart Beat and writing songs for Brenda Lee, Peter And Gordon, Dana Gillespie, Mary Hopkin and many others. They were the  force behind The Ivy League who had four hit singles of their own and in their first band Carter-Lewis And The Southeners briefly enjoyed the presence of Jimmy Page as their lead guitarist. But first Ken Lewis quit The Ivy League sick of touring and then John Carter joined him and they started their songwriting partnership afresh.

Let’s Go To San Francisco was one of their first compositions, recorded by session musicians and licensed to Deram. The song was a No.4 hit in the UK but there was no band as the writers did not want to get back on the treadmill, so they put a band together miming to the song on TV shows. In that band was Tony Burrows who sang on classic sixties hit Love Grows (Where My Rosemary Goes) by Edison Lighthouse and Neil Landon who sang with Burrows on Ivy League hits (Burrows replacing Carter). Other members of the touring band included Jon Lord and Nick Simper who went on to join Deep Purple Mk 1.

The song was a loving psychedelic tribute to The Beach Boys by a band with a trippy name that they later changed to Friends. There’s a whole story to follow through all the links that starts with Lewis and Carter and ends with Landon leaving to form Fat Mattress with Noel Redding from The Jimi Hendrix Experience. Finally, under the control of songwriter/producers Roger Greenaway and Roger Cook, they changed their name again to White Plains and had more hits in their own right.

This sweet melodic breezy slice of Pop Pyschedelia slipped into history and became a perennial sixties compilation mainstay. Apparently in America the band had to change their name to The Flower Men because the ‘pot’ reference was just too controversial, imagine what America would have thought of Bill and Ben and Little Weed? (See last link)