The Hits of 1967: Psychedelic, Man!
The summer of love 1967 lasted much longer than one summer...
In 1967 the war in Vietnam continued to be a country-splitting issue, and the peace movement grew stronger while the massive and widespread protests against the war increased and continued. Muhammad Ali lost his world championship status because he refused to acknowledge being drafted into the US Army. In the Six Day War in the middle east, Israel battled Syria, Egypt and Jordan and in victory gained a massive amount of new land. Summertime race riots in America resulted in looting and destruction in many major cities including Detroit, where on July 23, 7,000 National Guard troops restored law and order. The first issue of Rolling Stone magazine rolled off the presses in November, and Otis Redding died in a plane crash in December at 26 - he almost became a member of the forever 27 club.
What Happened in 1967's Music?
It was the year of the summer of love 1967, the year of the first rock festival - Monterey Pop in June - and the year that, for the first time, all 5 of the top hits worldwide were by groups: The Beatles had 2 of the 5, shared by Procol Harum, The Monkees, and the Doors. No more Elvis, no more Frank Sinatra, no more Lawrence Welk - the world knew something was happening, and it liked what it heard in the new music.
The legacy of that summer lives on in our culture and society, but the most visible and popular creations of that year that have managed to continue to be vitally important up to the present are the best albums of 1967. A small list of these records demonstrates their value as works of art, and as documents of a long-ago era. If you were not around for the real thing, you owe it to yourself to catch up - there is no better place to start an education in rock and roll than with the hits of 1967. Take a look at the albums that were released that year - See anything you like?
Tuning In, Turning On
As reflected in the music and countercultural events of the year, it was a time when young people had decided to experiment with illegal mind-expanding substances no matter what the cost. Following Timothy Leary's suggestion, people started using mind enhancing compounds like LSD, mescaline, psilocybin, and more were trying marijuana. The old taboos against using these drugs were falling by the wayside among the new generation, but they were still illegal, and conflicts were inevitable. In England, the Rolling Stones reaped massive publicity for being busted for pot possession, and the Beatles went public with the admission that they had all tried acid, and marijuana too. The concept of mind-expansion carried over into the music and for the first time, a big hit (White Rabbit by the Jefferson Airplane) was a thinly disguised tribute to the powers of these substances.
The Airplane weren't the only group to air their experimentation in public. Albums by the Moody Blues (Days of Future Past, about a day trip), The Doors (both albums were filled with references and descriptions), The Byrds (Younger Than Yesterday was a continuation of their fifth-dimensional experiences), and many, many others bore testament to the power of an idea. The notion that a human could alter their brain chemistry, have enlightening experiences, be more creative, and change for the better took the musical world by storm, and it would never be the same. It was a revolution in sound, and it created many of the best classic rock albums ever made. Although the summer of love 1967 was just another season, it never really ended - it goes on and on.
While the Beatles advanced to the forefront of the psychedelic movement with the Sgt. Pepper album, and the double-sided single Penny Lane and Strawberry Fields Forever, they did something else historic and world-shaking: they created the music video. Their full-length movies (now available on DVD as are all of their on-screen appearances) had already proven that rock and roll and Hollywood were a natural match. Short films were shot for Strawberry Fields and Penny Lane as promotional piece, and they became very popular. Since the group didn't perform live anymore, they saw these pieces as ways to reach the masses and to get their music sold - and it worked. At the end of the year before they released the All You Need Is Love and Hello, Goodbye single, they also made the first worldwide satellite TV appearance, while recording the backups to the songs. As in many other aspects of creativity, the group of Liverpool lads were ahead of the game, and when MTV came to life in the early 1980s, the concept had been pioneered by them more than 10 years before.