The Sixties were an exciting revolutionary period of time with great social and technological change. Some people called it the “decade of discontent” because of the race riots in Detroit and La, and the demonstrations against the Vietnam War. Other people called it the decade of “peace, love, and harmony”. It was called this because of the peace movement and the emergence of the flower children. (Britannica) The sixties were about assassination, unforgettable fashion, new styles of music, civil rights, gay and women’s liberation, Vietnam, Neil Armstrong landing on the moon, peace marches, sexual freedom, drug experimentation, and Woodstock. All of these components caused a revolutionary change in the world of popular Music.
The beginning of Rock and roll started with The Twist. by Chubby Checker This song changed our dancing moves. Other dance songs that helped this period of rock and roll along include: The Mash Potato, The Monster Mash ,the Pony, The Swim, The Jerk, The Monkey, and The Hully Gully. The first New York white rock star was Dion. He was the lead singer of the band the Belmonts. He was one of the the few rockers in his generation to evidence serious artistic growth (Unterberger). He moved into Country Blues, and Dylan material with sensitivity ,but drug problems slowed his progress until the late 60s. He made a comeback as a folk-rock singer with his song Abraham ,martin and John. Dion was one of several Italian-Americans to make important pop rock in the 60s. Other big American Rock groups of the 60s include: The Beach Boys, the four Seasons, and Frankie Valli. They had songs which included Sherry, Walk like a man, Candy Girl, Dawn, and Rag doll. Joey Dee was the most popular white twist artist of the 60s with his hit Peppermint Twist. Other members of Joey Dee’s band formed another Band called the Nucleus of the rascals. This band Featured a thick Organ sound of Felix cavaliere,They had a number one hit titled Good Lovin in 1966.
The beatles started the British invasion in 1964, when they had there first television appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show. The british Invasion was influenced by American recordings of British Pop Music. This period confirmed rock music internantionally .The baetles combined the guitar based rock and roll of Chuck berry and buddy holly with the artistry of the tin pan alley style.(Encarta) The animals were another major band ,they blended blues and r&b music. The rolling Stones blended aspects of Chicago blues to there intense, and forceful music.
When early rock and roll began the major American record companies did not take the british invasion seriously. The Beatles first album had to be released through small independent music companies. The success of British bands began to get to large to ignore, it changed the styles of some American musicians as well. In 1965 Bob Dylan performed at a concert in which he used electrical instruments, this alienated many folk music purists in the process of changing music forever (Unterberger pg.165). The American band the byrds combined folk and rock which created a number one hit on the billboard music charts. A Band called Buffalo Springfield blended aspects of Rock, Country and western music to create country rock in 1966.
American musicians responded to the British musical stimulus by experimenting with new forms, technologies, and stylistic influences. (Encarta) Rock music Diversified even further in the late sixties, it combined new music styles with the mainstream of American popular music. In 1967 the Beatles released the first rock concept album titled; sgnt Pepper’s lonely hearts club band. This album established new standards for studio recording and helped to portray rock musicians as creative artists.
In 1966 a new rock developed,this was known as san fransisco rock,or psychedelic rock. It was associated with the use of hallucinogenic drugs, including LSD, and Marijuana. there were psychedelic art and light shows, and an emphasis on spontaneity and communitarian values, epitomized in free form events which were known as be-ins (Clarcke pg108). Musicians such as Jerry Garcia from the Grateful dead expiremented with long improvised stretches of music known as jams . Despite the antiestablishment of the youth culture in San Francisco, musicians such as Jefferson Airplane, Janis Joplin, and Santana signed many contracts with major recording companies.
Hard rock emerged in the late 1960’s. It focused on thick layers of sound , loud volume levels, and virtiuos guitar solos. A film Student in LA named Jim Morrison formed his group The Doors. Guitarist and composer Frank Zappa developed a unique and risqué humor and complex jazz-influenced compositional forms with his group The Mothers Of Invention (Decurtis 321). Jimi Hendrix developed a highly influential electric guitar style in London. His new technique gained exposure at the first large scale rock festivasl in the U.S. such as ;Monterey Pop, and Woodstock. In 1966 There was a band called Cream, this power trio included guitatrist Eric Clapton, Bassist Jack Bruce, and drummer Ginger Baker. In The late 60’s additional styles of music delevoped including southern rock, which was pioneered by the Allman Brothers Band, Jazz Rock , and Latin Rock which was exemplified by the band Santana.
The most . famous of the Sixties rock festivals was Woodstock music and art fair. It was held on farm property in Bethel New York on August 15-17th 1969. Three Days of peace and music would come to define a generation.(sixties). Festival organizers decided on the title Woodstock because it was were folksinger Bob Dylan and many other musicians.. lived in New York. It was an artists’ retreat since the turn of the century. People came from all around, some for the music, some for atmosphere and some just to be there. Although peace was a main theme of the concert it was difficult to keep with a crowd of 400,000 people.
Some of the main performers of Woodstock include Richie Havens,Country Joe Mcdonald , Jimmy Hendrix, John Sebastian , Crosby, Stills , Nash & Young, Melanie Arlo Gurthie,CCR,Janis Joplin,Jefferson Airplain, and The Grateful Dead. The performers would come and go in Helicopters. There were no Motels, and no restaurants. It was about doing their own thing, and communing with nature (bbhq 3).
It began to rain Friday night, and continued through the weekend as the crowds grew. The grassland turned to mud, the stage began to slide off the hill it was built on, and the wind was blowing the tarp on the stage that was meant to protect the performers. Somehow through all of this the audience bonded. For two days straight Woodstock made front headlines in the New York Times. Over three million people were trying to get there who never made it in. tickets were as cheap as $8 although most of the people came in for free. They closed the New York State Thruway. There was eight lanes of gridlock all the way from New York to the festival. Overall there were two deaths from drug overdoces, and hundreds were treated and then sent back. The festival left its promoters practically bankrupt. The legend of Woodstocks Three Days of peace and Music became enshrined in American History.(Britanica)
Woodstock is the metaphorical construct for the general Human condition; war, peace.the generation gap, human rights, and our relationship to the earth (britanica 7). Woodstock was a timeless event. The songs had so much hidden meaning. Country Joe song Mcdonald’s wasn’t just about the Vietnam War but about all wars. Joan Baez’s song about Joe hill is about all organizers. Richie Havens songs Freedom, and Handsom Johnny, and summertime Blues is about your congressman not getting you a job.
Many social changes that were addressed in the 1960s are still the issues being confronted today. The ’60s was a decade of social and political upheaval. In spite of all the turmoil, there were some positive results: the civil rights revolution, John F. Kennedy’s bold vision of a new frontier, and the breathtaking advances in space, helped bring about progress and prosperity. However, much was negative: student and anti-war protest movements, political assassinations, and ghetto riots excited American people and resulted in lack of respect for authority and the law.