Landschlacht, Switzerland, 20 September 2016
Half a century has gone by since the Sixties, the decade of my birth, a truly Dickensian “best of times”/”worst of times” decade.
What had been sowed, both good and evil, from the previous decade bore bittersweet harvest: apartheid produces the Sharpeville Massacre, Castro´s revolution leads to the Bay of Pigs fiasco, JFK becomes US President and plays nuclear roulette with the Russians, racial tensions explode with the assassination of Martin Luther King and Black Power is the response, the British government falls in the Profumo scandal, Nelson Mandela is jailed, the Greeks depose their King.
Above: Painting of the Sharpeville Massacre, 21 March 1960
Above: Che Guevara and Fidel Castro
Above: US President John Fitzgerald Kennedy
Above: Soviet missiles displayed in Red Square, Moscow
Above: Martin Luther King Jr.- organised March on Washington, 28 August 1963
Above: Black Power demonstration at Mexico City Olympics 1968
Above: Robben Island Prison where Nelson Mandela was jailed
Good-bye Che Guevara, Adolf Eichmann, the villagers of My Lai, the miners of Aberfan, Jayne Mansfield, Norma Jean Baker (Marilyn Monroe), Judy Garland, JFK and brother Bobby…the day the music died.
Above: Jayne Mansfield
Above: Norma Jean Baker (aka Marilyn Monroe)
Above: Robert Kennedy just after he was shot 0n 5 June 1968
It was a time of Flower Power and peace, when “all you need is love” in the land of Camelot, at the dawning of the Age of Aquarius.
It was a time of riots, protests and revolution, anarchy on campus and Reds scaring us everywhere.
The Berlin Wall goes up, the Apollo Mission ends in tragedy, Firenze flooded, Skopje wrecked by earthquake, the jumbo jet and the Concorde first fly, man in space and on the moon, Nureyev dances, Bob Dylan believes “the answer, my friend, is blowing in the wind”, while women put all their faith in the Pill and US election campaigners tout Nixon with signs that read “I like Dick.”
Above: The Berlin Wall
Above: Apollo 11 moon landing, 20 July 1969
Above: Bob Dylan, 1963
Vietnam, a conflict which America couldn´t lose, but did.
Above: US tank convoy, Vietnam War
Algeria, Kenya, Cyprus, Aden and Nigeria struggle for freedom.
The casbah is rocked.
The Six Day War, a conflict which Israel couldn´t win, yet did.
Biafra: 2.5 year war, a million innocent people starve to death.
Hope and terror in Prague as Soviet tanks roll down the streets of spring.
The rise to stardom of Camille Javal (Brigitte Bardot) causing male temperatures to rise to stellar heights.
Above: Brigitte Bardot, 1961
The age of the epic film: Ben Hur, Lawrence of Arabia, Cleopatra, The Sound of Music, 2001: A Space Odyssey (which everyone loved but no one understood), Psycho, The Birds, Planet of the Apes, La Dolce Vita.
Charles Manson commits unspeakable acts.
The Rat Pack sing, George Lazenby is unloved On Her Majesty´s Secret Service, prompting Sean Connery to remind movie goers that he´s still “Bond. James Bond.”
Above: Sean Connery as James Bond 007
It is the rise of Roy Lichtenstein and Andy Warhol, One Flew over the Cuckoo´s Nest, the high priests of hippiedom: Leary, Hoffman and Rubin, Arthur Miller and Norman Mailer, Samuel Becket and Dave Brubeck, Pavarotti and Edith Piaf, Stravinsky and Shostakovich.
Above: “Wham!”, Roy Liechtenstein, 1963
Above: “Campbell´s Soup I”, Andy Warhol, 1968
And pop culture was pop music: Elvis, the Beatles, Ike and Tina Turner, Sonny and Cher, Buddy Holly, Jerry Lee Lewis, the Doors, the Supremes, the Bee Gees, the Who, the Everley Brothers, Eric Clapton, the Rolling Stones, Stevie Wonder, Joe Cocker…the list goes on.
Above: Elvis Presley, 28 June 1968
Above: The Beatles, 1964
Above: The Rolling Stones, 1965
John and Yoko in beds in Amsterdam, Toronto and Montreal hotels and all they are saying is “give peace a chance” and uninhibitedly naked in a picture that remains shocking.
Above: John Lennon and Yoko Ono, Queen Elizabeth Hotel, Montreal, 1969
Yves St-Laurent, Twiggy, “boots made for walking”, pork pie hats and mini macs, paper dresses and mini skirts, allowing the ladies to “twist again like we did last summer” to the Top of the Pops and pirate radio.
Above: Lesley Hornby, aka Twiggy, 1967
Squatters and “jacking up” and Woodstock.
The Greatest floats like a butterfly and stings like a bee, whether his name is Cassius Clay or Muhammed Ali.
Above: Muhammad Ali, 1967
…and Adam West is Batman and Hugh Hefner redefines the word “bunny” and folks wonder if Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds is psychedelic or was caused by something psychedelic…
All of this remembering makes me want to go to London…
“You Say You Want a Revolution?: Records and Rebels (1966 – 70)” is a new exhibition that started ten days ago and will continue to 26 February 2017 at the Victoria and Albert (V & A) Museum that explores how a flourishing counterculture of rebellion, expressed through music, fashion, art and political protest, challenged existing power structures in the late 1960s.
Here one can find the suits worn by John Lennon and George Harrison on the cover of Sgt. Pepper´s Lonely Hearts Club Band, shards from a Jimi Hendrix guitar and copies of the underground magazines Oz and International Times.
Imagine looking at LSD as a positive influence – not just used for recreational purposes but used to push boundaries and open the doors of perception.
Experience Pink Floyd playing in a backdrop of dazzling lights and avant garde films and feel the impact of Hendrix´s solo performance at Woodstock of the Star Spangled Banner.
(Even Colin Kaepernick would stand up for this!).
Above: Jimi Hendrix, 1967
Get high with a little help from the V & A.
Sources: Wikipedia; The Independent, 27 February 2016; V & A Museum.