Billionaire scion Pritzker pays homage to '60s hippie

Wed Jan 5, 2011 3:43pm EST
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LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - In San Francisco, where hippies and billionaires glide in the same social circles, John Pritzker has a foot in both camps.

The 57-year-old investor is a scion of the Chicago family behind the Hyatt hotel chain, with a personal net worth of about $1.4 billion, according to Forbes.

But back in the day he was an avid Grateful Dead fan, even moving to San Francisco during the 1970s so that he could be closer to his heroes. He recalled in a recent interview with Reuters that he saw the band about 50 times, but quickly noted that he was not as avid than many other Deadheads.

Like most baby boomers, he was distracted as he grew older by family and business commitments, and his politics became a little more conservative. But he never completely abandoned the youthful idealism of the counter-culture movement.

So it is not completely paradoxical that the proud capitalist has funded a new documentary "Saint Misbehavin': The Wavy Gravy Movie," about the man who is one of the last 1960s radicals still unreservedly upholding the era's classic tenets of peace and love.

"A lot of the ethos of how I view business and how I conduct my day and how I think about things was very heavily influenced by guys like Wavy, or Wavy as a metaphor for the era," said Pritzker, who is heavily involved in the boutique hotel business in California.

To many other Americans, Wavy Gravy is a Ben & Jerry's ice cream flavor. But to people who know him, the name was first the B.B. King-bestowed nom de guerre of Hugh Romney, a beat poet who once shared a Greenwich Village room with Bob Dylan in the early 1960s.

He is immortalized in the "Woodstock" film as the hippie who proclaimed from the stage, "What we have in mind is breakfast in bed for 400,000."