Bill Wheeler and Lou Gottlieb established communes in west Sonoma County in 1967 during the Summer of Love fifty years ago. Lou’s Morning Star Ranch was west of Sebastopol while Wheeler Ranch was on Coleman Valley Road west of Occidental. The land set people free of convention, government and uptight parents. Abodes consisted of everything from earthen domes to tree houses to a mattress under the stars. There was no electricity while showers were found under a garden hose or inside a sweat house. The preferred dress code was au naturel, weather permitting.
Music was always in the air with hippies breaking into song without provocation or reason. A rhythm section would soon appear, kids of all ages banging on inverted cans or upturned oatmeal boxes. Celebrated musicians would also lend their melodic muses to the festivities. The Steve Miller Band, The Grateful Dead, The Limeliters (of which Lou Gottlieb was an original member), Moby Grape, Jimi Hendrix and others would show up announced. (more…)