Meet the Ace of Cups, the Haight’s (almost) forgotten all-girl band

The Haight-Ashbury of 1967 was a place of endless possibility: new ways of living, an influx of ideas, and political and cultural revolution were in the air. And yet amidst this “anything goes” scene, one band still stuck out as an anomaly.

The Ace of Cups didn’t set out to be an all-girl band. The group’s original five members — Mary Gannon, Marla Hunt, Denise Kaufman, Mary Ellen Simpson and Diane Vitalich — came together guided by the communal spirit that blanketed Summer of Love-era San Francisco. Up to that point, most all-female bands had worn matching outfits and played cover songs. But with original songs that reflected their circumstances, the Ace of Cups played with groups like The Band, Jefferson Airplane, and even Jimi Hendrix, an avowed fan.

Despite their impact in San Francisco, in the intervening years the Ace of Cups were relegated to footnote status, all but written out of history books. They never signed with a record label, and after they started having children, the band split up.

But now, having kept in touch, four of the five original band members are recording their first album together. Watch the video in the player above to learn more about their experience.

This report originally appeared on KQED. Local Beat is an ongoing series on Art Beat that features arts and culture stories from PBS member and public radio stations around the nation.