If this blog seems a mish-mash, that’s because the main author is a mish-mash, absorbing all sorts of styles and areas of interest over the decades.
Which in turn means that people of different interests send things or share them and methinks a commenter quoted in the BBC article below sums it up. The Beeb writer had written:
1964: Mod or Rocker – ‘You had to be one or the other ‘ The Mods had designer suits, Italian scooters and The Who. Rockers had leathers, motorbikes and Elvis. For a few years in the early 1960s, the two groups represented a sharp division in British youth culture.
This comment was more to the point for many of us:
I was 15 in 1965 so I was in that generation that was neither full-on Rocker nor fashionable Mod, the rivalry between the two on the streets late at night or at the weekends was constant.
Rockers loved their motorbikes, leather clad girls, rock ‘n’ roll music, and, despite their caveman antics, were traditionalists. I was a rocker for two years, hanging out with the local gang, couldn’t afford the leather jacket so I wore a blazer, jeans, T-shirt, and desert boots to the clubhouse.
In spite of their image, Rockers were normally quiet, always on the lookout for cheap bike parts, and then used to mount up and go on a “burn up”. Many were killed on “burn ups” or horribly injured in all the hell-bent need for speed and adrenaline. But that was their way.
When I was 11, I was a rocker, hence:
When I started riding, it was a Triumph 350:
But that was all much later of course. I was not fully into the bike scene though I loved them and this was down mainly to my parents who had an education in mind which you see reflected, for better or worse, in my writing and manner. I never speak of my schooling because it would give away that I could only ever have been an ersatz rocker – they usually did not end up as headmasters.
And this was the issue for me – we were told we should not like this or that but I did and so did many – I liked the Stones because they seemed cooler in their early years, everyone liked The Who and Zeppelin, the Yardbirds – it was always the harder sounds I liked, hence Ten Years After and some metal, not much.
Personally, I just followed what seemed good at the time and while this is true:
Members of the second generation in the 1980s were often ex-punks. However, many of these second generation ex-punk skinheads, though fans of ska and reggae like the previous generation of skinheads, continued to listen to and create punk music and were heavily involved in the punk movement. Skinhead subculture has remained closely connected with and has overlapped with punk subculture ever since.
… the mistake so many hardcore members of subgenres made was to assume I was one of them. I’ve mentioned I made the camp scene for a year or two, mainly because I have gay friends, despite anything I write in Christian terms.
Plus there was the moving from country to country and back – it tends to wreck any homegroup influence so I found myself welcome enough by the various subgenres but never really accepted as one of them – just as is the case on this blog. You could call that independent, I call it eclectic and ersatz.
You’ve seen a distinct skinhead element to my music here:
… and that’s simple – I like it, it sounds good. I still wear steel tipped toecap boots in the yard when I build. Couldn’t maintain the brylled hair though as long hair is problematic for me, so skinhead style suited far better.
And it wasn’t too much of a stretch to start following the Stranglers, the Ramones and so on. But I also liked Wreckless Eric. Could never get into Sweet and Strawbs and Blur and Bay City Rollers and UB40 and all that – anything mainstream, the contrarian inside moved away from.
A constant sub theme in my life is that I was always 7 years too late for anything. On the other hand, for some weird reason, I have quite a few friends who are 7 years younger than me, almost exactly.
If you look at Richard Penniman, he was far older by decades but those I felt were my contemporaries, e.g. Hendrix, were born in 1942 or thereabouts. I was never into Hendrix, as he was a druggie and discordant, also it was all about him, just as with Jim Morrison, although I liked many of the songs. I also loved the Velvet Underground and that was heavily narcotic – so where’s this rocker disdain for drugs?.
Yet, apart from booze and ciggies, I never touched another drug until into my 20s. Don’t forget I was a gamesmaster for many years, had to be fit.
Can’t even start to cover all the side issues about girls who tried to make it in the music industry in those days. They were a heady mix of groupie, typical female falling out with one another, moodiness, bad choices, lack of hygiene, still too influenced by bad boys to be truly independent.
Also, there was a fusion of two scenes – NY and West Coast. In a sense, the New Yorker hardbitten was far more their thing, as with the Queens girl group the Shangri Las, trading on the bad girl image.
And the acid, a la the Velvets and Warhol – take a look at this later clip with Jeanette Jacobs on our left, she died at 32, one commenter said that in this clip, she already had tombstones in her eyes:
While I say that a group of late teen girls can’t look after themselves in the big bad world – something we see today with a vengeance, nor could many of the males at that time, Hendrix included:
With the girls, one has to add this:
Coming back to their acid dropping:
… take a look at this:
In the 1950s, the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) believed that the drug might be useful for mind control, so they tested it on people, some without their knowledge, in a program called MKUltra.
That’s what was going down and remember – these girls were earmarked as the next big thing, like the Beatles. Trouble was they were all over the place, psychologically – they were girls after all, not evil muvvers like Leary.
Woodstock and Monterrey were to test out various narcotics. Combine that with the introduction of AIDS and in particular explore Walter Reed and blacks, plus we’ve already looked at Laurel Canyon and the military connection.
This was no innocent flowering of summers of love – this was nasty, it was orchestrated by the agents of The Man, e.g. Zappa himself, John Phillips and so on. Ever heard of Sandoz?
There were powerful interests, as there are right now, manipulating, demoralising youth – youth thought it was way cool in those days – it was all a deliberate wrecking for reasons along two paths, take your pick. One is political and the other relates to an ancient war and the Stones sang about him.
How could I step out of all this and write about it? Because I was never quite part of it, always dabbling and moving onto something else. Far more likely to be a perp than a victim, although we were all victims of that scene at that time.
Some decades later and I’m first a headmaster, then a professor. The first was a very conservative head too, espousing the values I am today. And it’s no act – I do believe them. Christianity is another huge influence so as this post started out saying – what a mish mash.
Obviously I’m interested in your tale too or as much of it as you can allow to go public.