It all started with the Beatles for me. I was a true Beatlemaniac. My friends and I were in my senior year in high school. All we could talk about was the Beatles. We would go buy every new single, every new fan magazine, little Beatle dolls. My favorite Beatle doll was stuffed, oval in shape and was covered in a fuzzy material, white for the shirt, black for the suit and hair, etc.) We were really lucky in Tucson, Arizona, because a local record store owner organized a Beatles tour. Miraculously, my parents paid for me to go, so I headed out on a busload of teenagers to Las Vegas, Nevada in the summer of 1964. The next day, all the girls, and two lucky boys, were scurrying all over the area around the hotel where the Beatles were staying trying to see them, but the elevators were only going up a few floors. I got to stand next to Pat Boone in the elevator, though! The Beatles performed at the round convention center that night. I was standing with hundreds of screaming girls watching my beloved Beatles belting out “I Want to Hold Your Hand”, trying to hear and having a hard time. I turned to the girl next me and shouted, “How can you see them if you’re crying?” and she said, “The tears magnify them.” Ok…. Well, that girl turned out to be a life-long friend.
The British Invasion really made an impression on me I loved so many of the artists like the Hollies, the Yardbirds, the Kinks, the Moody Blues, Donovan, Eric Clapton, Cream, and The Animals.
When the Beatles went to India and got into eastern religion and eastern music, their music changed, and so did they—drastically. It’s hard to say, exactly, but I always thought the Rubber Soul album was the beginning of the shift in their style. I really liked their music better for while. I even knew of a professor that taught about the Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts’
Club Band album in his class. Of course, he was a friend of Timothy Leary….
As I changed with the music, I started listening to groups like The Byrds which I was able to see perform. One of that group’s members, David Crosby, went on to join The Buffalo Springfield. I was privileged to see them in concert with The Young Rascals. Of course, David Crosby, Stephen Stills and Neil Young went on to form Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young, another of my all time favorite groups).
Jimi Hendrix came to perform and we watched as he fussed over his amplifiers and grumbled to his crew and then he gave a fantastic performance.I saw The Doors twice. The first time was in Phoenix. I drove some of my new hippie friends up there. There must have been 15 or so people hanging out in this little house before the show. Almost everyone was smoking grass except me. I think I got a “contact high” though, because when I went to the performance I thought things felt and sounded a little weird, but cool. Jim Morrison brought a whole coliseum full of people to an absolute silence during the song “Unknown Soldier”, because in the middle of the song, a rifle shot sounded out, and Jim suddenly collapsed, then after a few seconds, he slowly stood up and continued the song. Wow… that was very effective. The second performance was the complete opposite. It must of have been one of those nights I read about in Jim Morrison’s biography No One Gets Out of Here Alive when he just didn’t want to perform, so he just encouraged the girls to try to get on the stage so the police would call an end to the show. Not nice.
The following year, I moved to South Dakota for about a month to live with my first true love. I was a flower child with a hippie cowboy for a boyfriend if you can believe that. We would drive around the Black Hills and listen to Canned Heat, Love, Cream, Classical Gas, Aquarius, Jimi Hendrix, Credence Clearwater Revival, and Steve Miller Band. It was my summer to be turned on to love and grass. What a trip!
As it turned out, I got an offer to return for another session as a Camp Fire Girl counselor. I accepted the job offer. While I was at camp there were huge riots in the streets in Chicago at the Democratic Convention with protesters against the Viet Nam War and police.My boyfriend called and said he was going to Colorado to hang out alone for a while, so I took a job in Bisbee, Arizona to teach elementary school.
The next summer I went to the first night of the 1969 Denver Pop Festival. This was a bittersweet experience for me. The music performances were mostly great, except for The Iron Butterfly whose songs were obviously canned. There was a violist who played rock music on an amplified violin. He was so energetic (wired?) and very talented; I wish I could remember his name. The Three Dog Night were fantastic. My biggest surprise was seeing Frank Zappa and The Mothers of Invention. They were really great musicians, and I had never seen a performer interact with the crown like Zappa did. He included us. It was so cool. Unfortunately, that was the last night of the festival I got to attend, and almost the last time I ever saw my boyfriend. We broke up the next day.
I feel that the music of the sixties was a tremendous influence in my life. In high school and through most of college, I was a shy girl who only went to school and church, never dated, and never questioned my parents’ beliefs. So much of the music of the 60’s, especially toward the end of that time, was irreverent, sensual, and fun seeking. It encouraged seeking beauty, questioning authority, and thinking for yourself. I didn’t write about it, but there were a lot of folk singers out there during that time too, like Peter, Paul, and Mary and Bob Dylan and Glen Yarborough who contributed a lot to the questioning minds of our youth. It was a turbulent time, but I am glad I was involved in it all. I feel I am a better person for having been exposed to all the philosophies, celebrations, trials, and joys of that period.