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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The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan is the second studio album by American singer-songwriter Bob Dylan, released on May 27, 1963 by Columbia Records. Whereas his self-titled debut album Bob Dylan had contained only two original songs, this album represented the beginning of Dylan's writing contemporary words to traditional melodies. Eleven of the thirteen songs on the album are Dylan's original compositions. It opens with "Blowin' in the Wind", which became an anthem of the 1960s, and an international hit for folk trio Peter, Paul and Mary soon after the release of the album. The album featured several other songs which came to be regarded as among Dylan's best compositions and classics of the 1960s folk scene: "Girl from the North Country", "Masters of War", "A Hard Rain's a-Gonna Fall" and "Don't Think Twice, It's All Right".

Dylan's lyrics embraced news stories drawn from headlines about the Civil Rights Movement and he articulated anxieties about the fear of nuclear warfare. Balancing this political material were love songs, sometimes bitter and accusatory, and material that features surreal humor. Freewheelin' showcased Dylan's songwriting talent for the first time, propelling him to national and international fame. The success of the album and Dylan's subsequent recognition led to his being named as "Spokesman of a Generation", a label Dylan repudiated. (Full article...)

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Led Zeppelin were an English rock band formed in London in 1968. The group consisted of vocalist Robert Plant, guitarist Jimmy Page, bassist/keyboardist John Paul Jones, and drummer John Bonham. With a heavy, guitar-driven sound, they are cited as one of the progenitors of hard rock and heavy metal, although their style drew from a variety of influences, including blues and folk music. Led Zeppelin have been credited as significantly impacting the nature of the music industry, particularly in the development of album-oriented rock (AOR) and stadium rock. Many critics consider Led Zeppelin one of the most successful, innovative and influential rock groups in history.

Originally named the New Yardbirds, Led Zeppelin's deal with Atlantic Records gave them considerable artistic freedom. Initially unpopular with critics, they achieved significant commercial success with eight studio albums over ten years. Their 1969 debut, Led Zeppelin, was a top-ten album in several countries and featured such tracks as "Good Times Bad Times", "Dazed and Confused" and "Communication Breakdown". Led Zeppelin II (1969) was their first number-one album, and yielded "Ramble On" and "Whole Lotta Love". In 1970 they released Led Zeppelin III which featured "Immigrant Song". Their untitled fourth album, commonly known as Led Zeppelin IV (1971), is one of the best-selling albums in history with 37 million copies sold. The album includes "Black Dog", "Rock and Roll" and "Stairway to Heaven", with the latter being among the most popular and influential works in rock history. Houses of the Holy (1973) yielded "The Ocean", "Over the Hills and Far Away" and "The Rain Song". Physical Graffiti (1975), a double album, featured "Trampled Under Foot" and "Kashmir". (Full article...)

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Civil Rights Act of 1964
Credit: Cecil W. Stoughton
United States President Lyndon B. Johnson (seated) signs the Civil Rights Act of 1964, a landmark piece of legislation that outlawed racial segregation in schools, public places, and employment. Among the guests behind him is Martin Luther King Jr. (directly behind and to the right of Johnson).

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Hendrix performing on the Dutch television show Hoepla in 1967

James Marshall "Jimi" Hendrix (born Johnny Allen Hendrix; November 27, 1942 – September 18, 1970) was an American musician, singer, and songwriter. Although his mainstream career spanned only four years, he is widely regarded as one of the most influential electric guitarists in the history of popular music, and one of the most celebrated musicians of the 20th century. The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame describes him as "arguably the greatest instrumentalist in the history of rock music".

Born in Seattle, Washington, Hendrix began playing guitar at the age of 15. In 1961, he enlisted in the US Army, but was discharged the following year. Soon afterward, he moved to Clarksville then Nashville, Tennessee, and began playing gigs on the chitlin' circuit, earning a place in the Isley Brothers' backing band and later with Little Richard, with whom he continued to work through mid-1965. He then played with Curtis Knight and the Squires before moving to England in late 1966 after bassist Chas Chandler of the Animals became his manager. Within months, Hendrix had earned three UK top ten hits with the Jimi Hendrix Experience: "Hey Joe", "Purple Haze", and "The Wind Cries Mary". He achieved fame in the US after his performance at the Monterey Pop Festival in 1967, and in 1968 his third and final studio album, Electric Ladyland, reached number one in the US. The double LP was Hendrix's most commercially successful release and his first and only number one album. The world's highest-paid performer, he headlined the Woodstock Festival in 1969 and the Isle of Wight Festival in 1970 before his accidental death in London from barbiturate-related asphyxia on September 18, 1970. (Full article...)

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Jagger in 2014

Sir Michael Philip Jagger (born 26 July 1943) is an English singer, songwriter, actor, and film producer who has gained worldwide fame as the lead singer and one of the founder members of the Rolling Stones. Jagger's career has spanned over six decades, and he has been described as "one of the most popular and influential frontmen in the history of rock & roll". His distinctive voice and energetic live performances, along with Keith Richards' guitar style, have been the trademark of the Rolling Stones throughout the band's career. Jagger gained press notoriety for his romantic involvements and was often portrayed as a countercultural figure.

Jagger was born and grew up in Dartford, Kent. He studied at the London School of Economics before abandoning his studies to join the Rolling Stones. Jagger has written most of the Rolling Stones' songs together with Richards, and they continue to collaborate musically. In the late 1960s, Jagger starred in the films Performance (1970) and Ned Kelly (1970) to a mixed reception. He began a solo career in 1985, releasing his first album, She's the Boss, and joined the electric supergroup SuperHeavy in 2009. Relationships with the Stones' members, particularly Richards, deteriorated during the 1980s, but Jagger has always found more success with the band than with his solo and side projects. (Full article...)

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CIA reference photograph of a Soviet medium-range ballistic missile in Red Square, Moscow

The Cuban Missile Crisis, also known as the October Crisis of 1962 (Spanish: Crisis de Octubre), the Caribbean Crisis (Russian: Карибский кризис, tr. Karibsky krizis, IPA: [kɐˈrʲipskʲɪj ˈkrʲizʲɪs]), or the Missile Scare, was a 1 month, 4 day (16 October – 20 November 1962) confrontation between the United States and the Soviet Union which escalated into an international crisis when American deployments of missiles in Italy and Turkey were matched by Soviet deployments of similar ballistic missiles in Cuba. Despite the short time frame, the Cuban Missile Crisis remains a defining moment in U.S. national security and nuclear war preparation. The confrontation is often considered the closest the Cold War came to escalating into a full-scale nuclear war.

In response to the presence of American Jupiter ballistic missiles in Italy and Turkey, and the failed Bay of Pigs Invasion of 1961, Soviet First Secretary Nikita Khrushchev agreed to Cuba's request to place nuclear missiles on the island to deter a future invasion. An agreement was reached during a secret meeting between Khrushchev and Cuban Prime Minister Fidel Castro in July 1962, and construction of a number of missile launch facilities started later that summer. (Full article...)
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