Useful Notes / The '60s

Some possibly useful notes on The '60s, for those who remember them and others who don't.

Daily Life:



  • Most fads that you imagine about the Swinging Sixties, like the miniskirt, tie-dyed shirts, long and bouffant hairdos, mod suits, and bell bottom pants, did not emerge until the middle of the decade. Much of the fashion of the late 1950s was still in style back in the early 1960s (at least before 1963). Only after Kennedy died, that a new, more liberal silhouette that reminisced The Roaring '20s, stepped into the catwalk.


  • The harm smoking does to one's health was finally officially proved once and for all on January 11, 1964 with the release of Smoking and Health: Report of the Advisory Committee to the Surgeon General of the United States. Although the tobacco companies tried to cloud the issue for decades since with increasingly desperate PR, the shift toward the North American population turning against smoking began.

Food and Drink:


  • In the very early part of the 1960s, rock music was in a lackluster state. That is, until North America was introduced to British band The Beatles in the year 1964 — the band that revolutionized rock music.
    • They were formed in Liverpool, England in 1960, and went on to transform not only rock, but popular music as well. They were a creative, highly commercial art form over the next decade, disbanding in 1970 while releasing many beloved and acclaimed albums along the way, constantly reinventing themselves while selling an assload of records.
    • Arguably a myth.
  • Then there was also The Rolling Stones, who came to represent the grittier side of sixties rock.
  • Along with The Beach Boys, who preformed surf rock.
  • Of course, there was Elvis Presley, an American rock musician and actor that started out in the 50's and ended his career with his demise in August 1977. An icon of music, he is commonly referred to as "The King" and he became one of the most successful and influential musicians in the 20th century.
  • Bob Dylan, a young man who came from Minnesota, arrived to New York and manage to turn both the worlds of Folk music and Rock music upside down, arguably paving the way to its fusion, Folk-Rock. Expect "Like a Rolling Stone" or, more famously, "Blowin' In The Wind" to appear in documentaries about 60's culture. He was also pals with the Beatles at one point.
  • "Louie Louie" by The Kingsmen also came out in the year 1963, and started the genre of Garage Rock. That song was suspected of having dirty lyrics, when there were none intentionally note  spoken.
  • Garage Rock led to the creation of Psychedelic Rock, which is often associated with the hippie counter-cultural movement.
  • "Born to be Wild" by Steppenwolf was probably about the first Hard Rock song to be a hit.
  • In the late 1960s, out of the ashes of The Yardbirds, Led Zeppelin would be formed. The band's first North American hit, "Whole Lotta Love", would become a hit in late 1969.
  • While never selling a lot of records, Velvet Underground was one of the most influential rock bands of all time and a major influence on Punk Rock and Alternative Rock in the coming decades.
  • Although Pink Floyd would only become really popular in the next decade, they were an integral part of the psychedelic scene in London.
  • In Latin music, the beginning of the decade was dominated by Bolero (a kind of ballad style born in Cuba and refined in Mexico and the Caribbean) and the Tropical Orchestra (think Big Band, only with less jazz and more latin sounding rhythms like calypso and mambo thrown to the repertory), which had been strong in the former decade. Many of those orchestras and their singers' musical style slowly evolved into what would eventually be baptized as Salsa near the end of the decade.
    • There were some pioneers who tried to adapt rock music into Spanish, after having being introduced to it via foreign movies. At the beginning all those bands did were covers of the original anglo records, but eventually some artists began to do original songs, and eventually new genres (like the Nueva Ola from Spain, a predecessor of the pop-rock on furter years). The rock scene will remain pretty regional for the next two decades.
    • For a while, Andean note  music was really popular in South America. Panflute-based instrumentals were very liked. Many of these artist paved the way into several folk and folk-fusion genres, specially in Chile and Argentina.

Social Concerns:
  • The political climate of the era was very confusing, to say the least. A lot of the same people who opposed Barry Goldwater (a Republican) in 1964 for his backwards racial policies latter on supported Richard Nixon (also a Republican) in 1968 for his promises to end the increasingly unpopular The Vietnam War. Of course, people back then had no idea that Nixon would later on turn out to be the infamous crook whose reputation continues to plague him to this day.

  • Spacewar, one of the first modern video games, was invented at MIT in 1961.
  • The UNIX operating system was created at Bell Labs in 1969, though its impact on The Internet would only be felt in later decades.
  • The Arpanet, the precusor to what became the Internet, started operation in 1969.