She Sang in Our Sunshine

Cover of Gale Garnett’s Sausalito Heliport album  |  post by Larry Clinton

Vocalist, writer and actress Gale Garnett was born in New Zealand, but became a local fixture in Sausalito’s hippie heyday. In 1964, Gale scored a Top Five pop hit with her original composition “We’ll Sing in the Sunshine,” which won her a Grammy for Best Folk Recording.

Five years later she released an album titled Sausalito Heliport with a backing band called Gentle Reign. One of the sidemen on that record date was drummer Michael Aragon, who went on to a 36-year gig at the No Name before retiring in 2019.

Sausalito Heliport wasn’t a critical success. The website notes: “the songs here aren’t much to rave about, sometimes seeming like awkward attempts to get in on the California psychedelic rock action, with occasional downright embarrassing improvised-sounding lyrics on some of the more ambitious numbers.” But that didn’t stop Gale from enjoying the bohemian pleasures of our town.

Sausalito Historical Society mainstay Rick Seymour, who grew up here, offered some fond memories of Gale, who was a regular on the Sausalito scene and dated novelist Evan S. Connell. Here’s one of Rick’s fondest memories:

“I met Gale when she was appearing as the female lead understudy in a SF production of Flower Drum Song shortly after I returned from the Air Force.  We were both hanging out at the No Name and got to be good friends.  Elizabeth Taylor’s ex Michael Wilder was the lead in the play and was throwing a party on his boat moored at Sam’s in Tiburon.  Gale found out that I had access to an 18-foot day sailer (Bidet) and asked if we would sail over to Sam’s the day of the party.  Sure.  We got as far as the harbor entrance, the wind died, and the two-horse outboard motor wouldn’t start.  I took the bow line, dove in and towed the boat past Wilder’s party with Gale posed in front of the mast in a very brief bikini.  We were really good friends after that.  Gale was one fine lady and person.”

Gale recorded through the rest of the 1960s with her backing band, the Gentle Reign. Her follow-up to “We’ll Sing in the Sunshine”, “Lovin’ Place,” was her only other single to chart in America. She appeared twice on ABC’s Shindig! and The Lloyd Thaxton Show at the height of her singing fame in the mid-1960s.

Toward the end of the 60s, Gale began appearing in feature films and on television shows, usually in supporting roles. She also branched out into journalism, writing essays, columns, and book reviews for various newspapers and magazines. Additionally, she wrote and performed two one-person theater pieces, Gale Garnett & Company and Life After Latex.

According to Wikipedia, “Garnett delivered a notable performance in the Rankin-Bass feature Mad Monster Party in the late 1960s, with the memorable tunes ‘Our Time to Shine’ and ‘Never Was a Love Like Mine.’

“In 1975, Garnett participated in an Off-Off Broadway theater production of ‘Starfollowers in an Ancient Land,’ written and directed by H. M. Koutoukas, at the La MaMa Experimental Theater Club in New York City’s East Village. Garnett performed in the cast, and also co-wrote the music for the production with Tom O’Horgan.”

Since then, Gale has worked primarily as a writer, and is now 80 years old.