|The Music of the Sixties--The Psychedelic Era|
consistently been influenced by the trends of its time;
reflecting the politics, economics, and life styles which
exist. The baby boomer generation lived during a time when
war had a powerful impact on everyone's life.
Demonstrations, organizations, speeches, freedom chants,
and drugs helped ease the pain of knowing that our American
brothers and sisters were losing their lives in the fight
at Vietnam. Drugs became, perhaps, one of the most
influential variables apparent in the music of the 60s.
In the early 1960s a band by the name of the Byrds and guys like Dylan changed the way many people looked at music. These bands started an underground wave that flowed throughout the 60s, this became known as the "Psychedelic Era." This era introduced drugs to be an important aspect involved in the creation of the music, and was used by the listeners to enhance their experience. Bands such as the Byrds and Grateful Dead started experimenting with such drugs as LSD, maurijana, and acid. They believed that drugs could help them create music that would blow the music of the 50s away, and it did!!
One effect that these drugs had on the young bands was to develop them into "real" musicians; ones that could capture an audience's attention in a few strums of a guitar string . As Jerry Garcia stated, "We just started jamming with a four minute song on stage, and it turned into 20 minutes, we made the music up as we went along and it was great." This new music started around the San Francisco area and spread across the United States throughout the 60s. Young hipsters greeted this new music with open arms and said that drugs changed the way many experienced this new wave of music.
The other great group that used drugs for help with expression was Big Brother and the Holding Company. This band sang blues and techno color with the aid from a lady well known…Janis Joplin. Janis felt that she was not really a singer due to the short range of her voice, however, she was very good at screaming. This realization lead to her statement that the 60s was a time when she had the "freedom to create."
In January 1967, 20,000 people gathered at Golden Gate Park for a "Humanbe-ing" or "Gathering of the Tribes" which many called it. It was a large concert consisting of all the big name bands of that time. It developed into a haven of excessive drug use during the event, and one band member of The Grateful Dead commented that "the park was filled with nothing but pot smoke." It also became public during this time that The Beatles had begun to do their studio work while high on LSD. One song that became the product of one of their acid trips was "Tomorrow Never Knows."
Late in the year of '67 other bands such as Country Joe and the Fish and Jefferson Airplane stepped onto the psychedelic bandwagon with songs also produced with the aid of the mind scrambling drugs. One song from Jefferson Airplane entitled "White Rabbit," speaks of the difference between drugs that are harmful compared to simply those that mother would give to make us feel better. Amazing that they distinguish a difference. Again in '67 another big concert took place at Alexander Palace of about 10,000 people. This show ended up lasting 14 hours with people doing crazy things throughout the whole concert such as climbing the walls and swinging from banisters. In June, The Beatles released their first album "Seargent Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band," and this began another revolution in the music business from singles to whole albums.
The "Summer of Love" came to close in August of 1969 with the great 3 day Peace and Music Festival of Woodstock. This festival was a huge success; the first of its kind to ever occur. More than 2 million people tried to get in, borders and state lines had to be closed to deal with all the people. The festival headlined a number of popular bands from across the globe and served as a place for people to commence in a demonstration for peace. Even though the the clouds opened and dumped rain upon the event, the spectators did not let it damper the mood of love and peace among them at Woodstock.
The last concert of the sixties, often overshadowed by the concert at Woodstock, was Altama. This show was intended to be a small gathering until The Rolling Stones announced that they were giving this concert at no charge to the public. Not anyone in their right mind could pass up the chance to spend a day token it up with the one of the pied pipers of the drug scene. More than 500,000 people came to a old run down race track to hear the famous Stones. This show was one that many of the bands who played will never forget.
The war ended a few years after the close of that legendary era of the 60s. However, drug use could not be ended like the war by simply signing an agreement like Nixon did. The rage had caught on, and is still evident even today through modern music. Many people lost their lives during that "Psychedelic Era," whether from a gun shot in the Far East, or heroin laced needle prick here in the U.S. These tragedies were captured in the music of the 60s, to serve forever as a reminder to generations to come.
Links to Artists of the Era
The Rolling Stones