Looking back at the 60s 101



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People seem to be fascinated by the 1960s. It’s not just the baby boomers who you would expect to maintain an interest in their teenage years. Most teenagers believe the world began on the day they were born. The other generations (X&Y) also seem fascinated.

It usually begins with the music. Ask any 60s teenager and you will learn all great popular music was written and performed in the 60s and by the greatest artists. Talking to a friend about growing up in the 60s in England, he said the The Shadows’ were the background music to his life. I agreed but thought later they were challenged by the Beatles. Since then we either have remakes or songs following those early trends. The 60s also saw the premiere of the classic TV shows; the shows that Hollywood loves to turn into big budget movies that usually fail. The box office flops due mainly to the mogul’s failure to understand that these shows were successful and became classics because they were fresh and new.

The 60s saw the birth of the great movements: the black civil rights movement in America and its cousin, the apartheid struggle in Africa. The contraceptive pill was introduced in 1961 and, although its use took sometime to spread, it had a profound affect on women. It was arguably the start of the women’s liberation movement that gathered momentum in the 70s.

The race for space began and its controversial beginnings funded by the Cold War still sees its value being questioned today. Space travel was dependent on the development of big computers another 60s breakthrough. These machines were the much needed, much maligned tools of the big organisations: defence forces, banks and insurance companies. By the end of the 60s most large government departments were addicted to them. Fortunately, the average person would to wait until the 90s for their turn and for the 00s for addiction.

Christian Barnard pioneered heart transplant surgery in the 60s and, following the normal trend, what was astounding then has become commonplace now. The continuing movement to more and more complex surgery has travelled from hearts to faces.

Will this fascination continue? While the baby boomers live, prosper and have influence, probably they say Hollywood never learns anyway. In the meantime it’s been a hard days night and I should be sleeping not like a log these nights but something close. Remember, you have to make your own kind of music and keep on singing your own special song.

Thanks to Derek for sending this in.

What are your special memories of this time? Tell us below.

Guest Contributor

  1. My nephew would have loved to be here in the 60’s, and we were very lucky to have lived in such a great era.

  2. I loved the 3 part story on Cilla Black recently, NZ TV. Brought back so many memories of life and times in the 60’s.

  3. Loved growing up in the 60s we had so much fun a carefree lifestyle nothing to ever worry about fabulous music so many great memories take me back

  4. The music was the best. It had beat and rhythm, the singers had talent. Today’s music is so, so awful. The models were gorgeous, no one comes near Jean Shrimpton and Twiggy, or beautiful Marianne Faithfull! No ghastly traffic on the roads, it was easy to get a job. Went to year 10 and most kids left to join the workforce. You only stayed on to go teaching or go to Uni. The clothes were so trendy and unique. There was little crime around. The world is a sad place now!

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  5. I am very happy that as a teenager I was able to really enjoy the mid-50’s and through the 1960’s. They were exciting and happy times in spite of things that sent ripples around the world such as Kennedy’s asassissnation, apartheid, the Cuba missile incident, the Vietnam/American War etc. The music was binding; opportunities for jobs where I lived were great; the BIG OE was taking off and young people still had repsect for each other and their elders. Of course there were red necks and those who bucked/tried to buck the system, but still, life was good

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