Picture the scene. Aquarian cults full of college drop outs, washed up Hollywood starlets and acid fried trust fund kids. Former teen idols turning on and shooting up. Ex-folkies, eyes set to the cosmos, playing fast and loose with tradition. Black Panthers, White Panthers and drugstore cowboys. Vietnam vets and beauty queens heading for the hills. Suburban kids hooked on bennies, Coca Cola and rock’n’roll.
These times were fraught with the tension between a youth discontented, disillusioned and disorientated with the state of their nation yet at the same time exhilarated by the rapidly expanding possibilities to be in found in popular music, drugs and sex. Family, lovers and friends were under constant threat of the draft, police brutality, narco busts and campus massacres.
The Apocalypse loomed large; ecological turmoil, social breakdown and “the bomb”, self-proclaimed messiahs preaching free love and redemption on every street corner. Longhairs ruled the charts and the hearts of kids from New Jersey to San Jose with their songs of love, freedom and frustration. Between 1966 and 1975, the world burst wide open.
The West Coast became home to anyone who was brave or foolish enough to wind up there; “where the American Dream came too true” as Lawrence Ferlinghetti said. Life with the contrast turned up.
This collection is a snapshot of those times.