What defined the 60's and what set it apart from it's previous decade? You can say it was a great step forward for American Society. The advent of Hendrix, The Doors and Psychedalia, the hippie counter-culture and its numerous protests. What caused this evolution in society? I believe it would be fair to state that, a particular era can almost be defined by its currently popular music. I believe music did cause a change in society and vice versa, What caused this leap from the 50's to the 60's? Well, it is none other than the electric guitar.
Leo Fender released his Broadcaster in the early 50's, it took a while to gather steam but by the 60's the strat, Les Paul and soon the SG saturated the American Market and paved the way for Psychedelic Rock. In the 50's any musician seen strapping on an electric guitar was seen as rebelling against the long-held traditions of American Music.
I believe that this great step in Guitar Technology was a milestone for music in general. The generally subservient and hardworking attitute of the people of the 50's contrasted that of the rebellious and laid-back attitute of the hippies which were an intergral part of the landscape in 60's America. I believe this was due to the advent of Rock.
Psychedelic music influenced the hippies considerably and/or vice versa. Hippies primarily seek to abolish social prejudices hence the popularity of Feminism and groups which fought for the rights of the minorities at that time. Hippies also sought to crush totalitarianism in a peaceful way. They also believed a lot in Eastern Mysticism and sought after drugs for spiritual encounters and experiences.
The anti-war movement bore testement to the strength of the hippie culture. Given, most of the protesters were ordinary people who were not considered hippies but it was evident that the core values of the hippies such as peace and love was spreading like wildfire throughout the whole of America, and not just confined to San Francisco alone. However, the American Government looked at the Hippies with much disdain, such protests were usually greeted with rifle butts and batons, with the establishment using the pretext that they did not have the proper permits to start a protest.
However, there were rogue hippies which deviated from the ideology of the majority that they should all use peaceful means, love and tolerance to achieve their goals and aims. Some do possess revoulutionist ideologies which include and armed struggle in order to succeed. And unsurprisingly, those hippies do adopt communism as lifestyle.
Another feature which dotted the American landscape in the 60's were festivals and gatherings which were like Evangelistic crusades for the hippie ideology. One of it was the Be-In Festival, it was a very highly-charged event, which brought together the literary, musical and spiritual leaders of the hippie movement. Attenders were given free food which were laced with LCD, the message was simple, to get hippies to be active where politics is concerned and make an impact on this society. Another event was the Monterey Pop Festival, it included acts such as Canned Heat, Simon and Garfunkel as well as the Legendary Hendrix and The Who. Monterey was a platform for which it launched Janis Joplin and Hendrix into super-stardom and they, especially Hendrix left an indelible mark in the minds of hippies in the later part of his career. These festivals gave hippies a sense of community and belonging.
I will trace the political advances of the hippies in the next article in the quest to create and egalitarianistic society free from discrimination. This is more like a historical recount and introduction to the hippie counter-culture in the 1960's. Indeed, the hippies have left an indelible mark on our society and made our society the way it is now.