sending some love back across the water
The biggest story of the year was the Vietnam War – over 360,000 men had been shipped off, with 5500 dead not to mention the missing and injured – Britain’s Prime Minister Harold Wilson, Canada’s Prime Minister Lester Pearson, even Pope Paul VI tried for peace in 1966. The list of conscientious objectors was formidable, from the UN Security Council and the US Congress down to demonstrations 10,000 strong in front of the White House… but to no avail.
Civil unrest and military coups continued to foment in African countries, Indira Gandhi took the reins in India and Fidel Castro declared martial law in Cuba. The race to the moon continued between the Russians and the Americans with the Soviet Luna 9 technically getting there first while we fed our obsession of getting out into the galaxy with the first regeneration of Dr. Who and the premier episode of Star Trek.
As today, innovative and experimental art and music found their most eager audience in the young. Here was a generation that passed into early adulthood having grown up with transistor radios, record players and the sought-after living room fixture, television. The new wave of audio-visual bombardment, combining music with light-shows, art with sound and each new “experience” with mind-altering drugs was not only easily accepted but sought after. Their parents, many of whom had come of age in tougher times and were more concerned with being entrenched in Vietnam and the Cold War were often horrified and tended, in the parlance of the age, to” freak out.” Psychedelia in its infinite forms began to seep into our awareness at multiple levels – its very vocal proponents have left us with a graphic and musical heritage that is currently seeing a resurgence among our own progeny. Oddly enough, it comes out of the very place of its birth – San Francisco.
People were starting to understand that there was room for change – although some of them would have to be dragged kicking and screaming towards the unknown, many suddenly realized that they could be the architects of their own futures by joining together in a social, political, labour or artistic movement. A year that had seen Acid tests of many varieties ended with the prohibition of LSD. Clearly, to the establishment, expanded consciousness was a dangerous thing…
Tri-colour metallic Portrait of Bob Dylan by Martin Sharp used as the cover of Oz No.7
For more on 1966 visit:
Eight Miles High
Best Films of 1966