Portal:1960s

The 1960s Portal


"The Sixties", as they are known in both scholarship and popular culture, is a term used by historians, journalists, and other objective academics; in some cases nostalgically to describe the counterculture and revolution in social norms about clothing, music, drugs, dress, formalities and schooling. Conservatives denounce the decade as one of irresponsible excess and flamboyance, and decay of social order. The decade was also labeled the Swinging Sixties because of the fall or relaxation of social taboos especially relating to racism and sexism that occurred during this time.

The 1960s became synonymous with the new, radical, and subversive events and trends of the period. In Africa the 1960s was a period of radical political change as 32 countries gained independence from their European colonial rulers.

Some commentators have seen in this era a classical Jungian nightmare cycle, where a rigid culture, unable to contain the demands for greater individual freedom, broke free of the social constraints of the previous age through extreme deviation from the norm. Christopher Booker charts the rise, success, fall/nightmare and explosion in the London scene of the 1960s. However, this alone does not explain the mass nature of the phenomenon.

Several nations such as the U.S., France, Germany and Britain turned to the left in the early and mid 1960s. In the United States, John F. Kennedy, a Keynesian and staunch anti-communist, pushed for social reforms. His assassination in 1963 was a stunning shock. Liberal reforms were finally passed under Lyndon B. Johnson including civil rights for African Americans and healthcare for the elderly and the poor. Despite his large-scale Great Society programs, Johnson was increasingly reviled by the New Left at home and abroad. The heavy-handed American role in the Vietnam War outraged student protestors across the globe, as they found peasant rebellion typified by Ho Chi Minh and Che Guevara more appealing. Italy formed its first left-of-center government in March 1962 with a coalition of Christian Democrats, Social Democrats, and moderate Republicans. Socialists joined the ruling block in December 1963. In Britain, the Labour Party gained power in 1964. In Brazil, João Goulart became president after Jânio Quadros resigned.

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Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band is the eighth studio album by the English rock band the Beatles. Released on 26 May 1967, it spent 27 weeks at number one on the Record Retailer chart in the United Kingdom and 15 weeks at number one on the Billboard Top LPs chart in the United States. The album was lauded by critics for its innovations in songwriting, production and graphic design, for bridging a cultural divide between popular music and high art, and for reflecting the interests of contemporary youth and the counterculture. Its release was a defining moment in 1960s pop culture, heralding the Summer of Love, while the album's reception achieved full cultural legitimisation for pop music and recognition for the medium as a genuine art form.

At the end of August 1966, the Beatles permanently retired from touring and pursued individual interests for the next three months. During a return flight to London in November, Paul McCartney had an idea for a song involving an Edwardian military band that formed the impetus of the Sgt. Pepper concept. Sessions began on 24 November at EMI Studios with compositions inspired by the Beatles' youth, but after pressure from EMI, the songs "Strawberry Fields Forever" and "Penny Lane" were released as a double A-side single in February 1967 and left off the LP. (Full article...)

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Black Sabbath in 1970 (from left), Geezer Butler, Tony Iommi, Bill Ward and Ozzy Osbourne

Black Sabbath were an English rock band formed in Birmingham in 1968 by guitarist Tony Iommi, drummer Bill Ward, bassist Geezer Butler and vocalist Ozzy Osbourne. They are often cited as pioneers of heavy metal music. The band helped define the genre with releases such as Black Sabbath (1970), Paranoid (1970), and Master of Reality (1971). The band had multiple line-up changes following Osbourne's departure in 1979, with Iommi being the only constant member throughout its history.

After previous iterations of the group called the Polka Tulk Blues Band and Earth, the band settled on the name Black Sabbath in 1969. They distinguished themselves through occult themes with horror-inspired lyrics and down-tuned guitars. Signing to Philips Records in November 1969, they released their first single, "Evil Woman" in January 1970. Their debut album, Black Sabbath, was released the following month. Though it received a negative critical response, the album was a commercial success, leading to a follow-up record, Paranoid, later that year. The band's popularity grew, and by 1973's Sabbath Bloody Sabbath, critics were starting to respond favourably. (Full article...)
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Charlton Heston
Credit: Rowland Scherman; Restoration: Nehrams2020
Charlton Heston (1923–2008) was an American actor of film, theatre and television who is known for heroic roles in films such as The Ten Commandments, Ben-Hur (for which he won the Academy Award for Best Actor), El Cid, and Planet of the Apes. Heston was also known for his political activism. In the 1950s and 1960s he was one of a handful of Hollywood actors to speak openly against racism, and was an active supporter of the Civil Rights Movement. Initially a moderate Democrat, he later supported conservative Republican policies and was president of the National Rifle Association from 1998 to 2003.

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Pink Chanel suit of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis

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Zappa performing live at Ekeberghallen in Oslo, Norway, 1977

Frank Vincent Zappa (December 21, 1940 – December 4, 1993) was an American musician, composer, guitarist, singer, songwriter and bandleader. His work is characterized by nonconformity, free-form improvisation, sound experiments, musical virtuosity and satire of American culture. In a career spanning more than 30 years, Zappa composed rock, pop, jazz, jazz fusion, orchestral and musique concrète works, and produced almost all of the 60-plus albums that he released with his band the Mothers of Invention and as a solo artist. Zappa also directed feature-length films and music videos, and designed album covers. He is considered one of the most innovative and stylistically diverse musicians of his generation.

As a self-taught composer and performer, Zappa had diverse musical influences that led him to create music that was sometimes difficult to categorize. While in his teens, he acquired a taste for 20th-century classical modernism, African-American rhythm and blues, and doo-wop music. He began writing classical music in high school, while at the same time playing drums in rhythm-and-blues bands, later switching to electric guitar. His 1966 debut album with the Mothers of Invention, Freak Out!, combined songs in conventional rock and roll format with collective improvisations and studio-generated sound collages. He continued this eclectic and experimental approach whether the fundamental format was rock, jazz, or classical. (Full article...)

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Brezhnev in 1972

Leonid Ilyich Brezhnev (Russian: Леонид Ильич Брежнев, IPA: [lʲɪɐˈnʲit ɨˈlʲjidʑ ˈbrʲeʐnʲɪf] (listen); Ukrainian: Леонід Ілліч Брежнєв; 19 December 1906 – 10 November 1982) was a Soviet politician who led the Soviet Union as General Secretary of the Communist Party (1964–1982) and as Chairman of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet (1960–1964, 1977–1982). His 18-year term as general secretary was second only to Joseph Stalin's in duration. Brezhnev's tenure as General Secretary remains debated by historians; while his rule was characterised by political stability and significant foreign policy successes, it was also marked by corruption, inefficiency, economic stagnation, and rapidly growing technological gaps with the West.

Brezhnev was born to a working-class family in Kamenskoye (now Kamianske, Ukraine) within the Yekaterinoslav Governorate of the Russian Empire. After the results of the October Revolution were finalized with the creation of the Soviet Union, Brezhnev joined the Communist party's youth league in 1923 before becoming an official party member in 1929. When Nazi Germany invaded the Soviet Union in June 1941, he joined the Red Army as a commissar and rose rapidly through the ranks to become a major general during World War II. Following the war's end, Brezhnev was promoted to the party's Central Committee in 1952 and rose to become a full member of the Politburo by 1957. In 1964, he amassed enough power to replace Nikita Khrushchev as First Secretary of the CPSU, the most powerful position in the country. (Full article...)

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Black is Beautiful is a cultural movement that was started in the United States in the 1960s by African Americans. It later spread beyond the United States, most prominently in the writings of the Black Consciousness Movement of Steve Biko in South Africa. Black is beautiful got its roots from the Négritude movement of the 1930s. Negritude argued for the importance of a Pan-African racial identity among people of African descent worldwide.

It aims to dispel the racist notion that black people's natural features such as skin color, facial features and hair are inherently ugly. John Rock was long thought to be the first person to coin the phrase "black is beautiful"—during a speech in 1858—but historical records indicate that he never actually used the specific phrase on that day. The movement also encouraged men and women to stop trying to eliminate African-identified traits by and attempting to lighten or bleach their skin. Bill Allen, a freelance writer for advertising agencies, claimed he coined the phrase in the 1950s. (Full article...)
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