Part III - Society's & Culture's Impact on The Art of Music

 

The Late 60s - The Summer of Love

It is hard to deny that 1967 perfectly encapsulated the sentiments of the hippie movement at that very moment.  San Fransisco was soon overwhelmed with this influx, and makeshift communities sprang up.  The unspoken rule of being a member of the hippie subculture relied on community to ensure everyone was fed and healthy.  Soup kitchens and health clinics popped up to care for those with no means to adequately care for themselves.  With such a concentration of young, open-minded, free spirits, the music and arts scene intertwined and the psychedelic, intricate and complex sounds of bands like Jefferson Airplane, The Grateful Dead and Jimi Hendrix could be heard at the various venues and parks as well as the mainstream rock and roll radio stations.

summer love concert 1967

While part of the country was embracing this communal and accepting shift, they were isolated from the tragedies that continued to plague the black community.  Despite passing the Civil Rights and Voting Act, many members of the black community were targeted for non-violent offenses and institutionalized racism was still open in many parts of our county.  

hendrix love

In Detroit, in the early hours of July 23rd, 1967, just miles from where I was born, the Summer of Love ended early.  An after hours party to celebrate the homecoming of two returning black Vietnam veterans was raided by police and a melee ensued.  Police and patrons began to spill into the streets.  Tensions were already high between the groups and a sole bottle thrown from within the crowd sparked what would be the decline of one of America's greatest cities.  Over the course of 4 days with a National Guard Presence and massive clashes with police, 16 people were killed, 493 injured and large sections of the city were reduced to smoldering ash. Devastatingly similar riots were occurring in Newark, Chicago and on smaller scales across the country

detroit 1967 riot.png

Credit: King Rose Archives - Youtube.

Many consider the hippie movements last major hurrah was August 15th, 16th and 17th, 1969, where an estimated 500,000 people descended upon an upstate New York farm to listen to the several dozen bands that were considered leaders of the hippie counterculture.  Conditions on site became anarchy, however despite the breakdown in the logistics, the concert will go down as one of America's defining musical moments.

 

woodstock collage

As the 1960s faded into the early 70s, we watched a man land on the moon, major steps taken forward in establishing true civil rights, and the momentum of a counterculture who seemed set on changing the world.  The idealism, much like the time following the Jazz age, left many disillusioned.  The message seemed simple, yet in practice, it could not be sustained.

1970s collage

Resentment set in as musical icons like Hendrix, Janis Joplin and Jim Morrison all died before they were 30yr from apparent abuse of drugs and alcohol.  The long, orchestrated jams gave way to a newer, faster, louder sound that blew up out of a small club in New York called CBGB's.  In contrast to the 50s and 60s, this genre was intended to be rough, cutting and simple.  A prolific art scene developed around CBGB's and gave us artists such as The Ramones and the Talking Heads.

 

cbgb ramones
talking heads

 

The 1970s saw a new wave of feminism emerge, mirroring their proverbial sisters from earlier in the century fighting for woman's suffrage, but with a much loader voice thanks to the invention of the microphone and punk rock.  Artists like Joan Jett, Debbie Harry of Blondie, Talking Heads bassist Tina Weymouth and Pat Benatar proved Rock and Roll was not gender biased.   

 

 

BY:  KEVIN FINKBEINER

CONTRIBUTING FROM METRO DETROIT, MICHIGAN

 

Additional Info to know:   Detroit's 1967 Riots to be a movie.