Tag Archives: Teenage Culture

LA Sunset Strip Riots 1966

LA Sunset Strip Riots 1966

November 12, 1966

LA Sunset Strip Riots 1966

Pandora’s Box

Jimmy O’Neill hosted the ABC network show Shindig! The show was ABC’s attempt to jump on the British Invasion bandwagon after the ratings of its folk-oriented show Hootenanny fell.

O’Neill also ran a nightclub called Pandora’s Box on the Sunset Strip in Los Angeles. Though it was 1966, a year after the tipping point that changed America’s teenage musical landscape, the club mainly drew a crowd of mostly clean-cut teenagers and twenty-somethings guys wearing pullover sweaters and girls miniskirts.

It and other clubs’ popularity with young people walking around and driving nearby caused congestion that local residents and business owners complained about and asked the city government to do something.

LA Sunset Strip Riots 1966

Curfew

Los Angeles passed a 10 PM curfew law targeting teenagers.

On November 12 some young people passed out fliers along the Strip announcing a demonstration there to protest the curfew.

By most accounts, about 1000 people turned out including a few young celebraties such as Sonny and Cher (whose presence got them kicked out of the Rose Bowl Parade), Jack Nicholson, and  Peter Fonda (who was arrested but released after he said he was simply filming the demonstration).

LA Sunset Strip Riots 1966

Sunset Strip

LA Sunset Strip Riots 1966

The event began peacefully, but eventually pushing, shoving, and shouting led to police ordering all to leave.

Many didn’t and some demonstrators broke store windows.

Demonstrations continued on and off over the next weeks, but the City of Los Angeles won. It condemned Pandora’s Box, claiming that street realignment required its destruction.

On Aug. 3, 1967, a wrecking ball tore it down.

No sign of the triangle occupied by Pandora’s remains today; the street rerouting eliminated it.

Fortunately for artists, such popular disruption can lead to inspiration. Stephen Stills said that he wrote “For What It’s Worth” in 15 minutes. Though the song today is associated with protesting the Vietnam War, it’s source was the LA Sunset Strip Riots.

LA Sunset Strip Riots 1966

Other songs

Others also wrote songs about the protests: Frank Zappa, the Monkees, and The Standells.

    • For What It’s Worth” by Buffalo Springfield (1967) Song:

  • Plastic People” by Frank Zappa and The Mothers of Invention  (1967)

  • Daily Nightly” by The Monkees (1967)

Riot on Sunset Strip” by The Standells (1967)

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Saturday Evening Post Hippie

Saturday Evening Post Hippie

September 23, 1967

Saturday Evening Post Hippie

hip·pie, noun

Especially in the 1960s, a person of unconventional appearance, typically having long hair and wearing beads, associated with a subculture involving a rejection of conventional values and the taking of hallucinogenic drugs.

Synonyms: flower child, Bohemian, beatnik, long-hair, free spirit, nonconformist, dropout.

Saturday Evening Post Hippie

Genesis

In 1958, deliberately associating young non-conformists with the Red Menace of Communism, the media picked up on the term Beatnik first used by San Francisco Chronicle’s columnist Herb Caen.

Those who choose to or are thrust into a counter-cultural position always face the the Establishment’s sticks and stones.

Seven years later another San Francisco newsman, Michael Fallon, this time from the Examiner, christened a younger generation’s counter-cultural with the term hippie in an article about the Blue Unicorn coffeehouse.

Saturday Evening Post Hippie

Fallon described the young woman at the start of his article as “A pale fragile girl shrouded in a pink burlap shawl which concealed her mouth and jaw and flapped down around her knees…. She looked as though she might have survived, narrowly, an attack by Bedouins.”

Not complimentary.

Saturday Evening Post Hippie

How many “hippies”?

On tours in the Museum at the Bethel Woods Center for the Arts, I talk about who attended the Woodstock Music and Art Fair. If we judge by by the pictures taken that weekend, there were 500,000 hippies there: unwashed (unless they were skinny dipping in Fillipini Pond), muddy (unless they weren’t), high (unless they weren’t), long-haired (unless they weren’t), drop outs (ditto, eh?).

I will show guests a picture I took that day and point out that if one looks beyond the many media hippie images, one will find “a lot of white kids getting sunburned.”

Saturday Evening Post Hippie
photo by J Shelley. Woodstock Music and Art Fair. Saturday 16 August 1969

The Saturday Evening Post was not the first print media to feature an article about the so-called hippie. Keep in mind that in 1967 there were still just three major–actually two major (NBC & CBS) and one not so major (ABC)–TV networks. No 24-hour news cycle. No tweets. No electronic social networks. Millions of readers subscribed to magazines, newspapers, or journals. In the 1950s, the Post had reached 6 million households per week!

Perhaps as a reminder of the print media’s sway, keep in mind E F Hutton’s successful commercial approach in the 1970s and 1980s. Remember “When E.F. Hutton talks, people listen”? That’s the kind of power the print media still had, though it was starting to wane.

Saturday Evening Post Hippie

Saturday Evening Post Hippie

Hippie Cult

The Post’s article suggested (strongly) that a hippie belonged to a cult. Unthinking, brainwashed, taken advantage of. The cover’s headline includes the questions (that the article inside will apparently answer):

  • Who are they
  • What do they want
  • Why do they act that way

In addition to the hippie article [Hippies: Slouching Towards Bethlehem], the edition also had The Howard Hughes Underground, The Brothers Smothers, Tom & Dick, The Rescuer, and Will Joe Frazier Be The Next Champ?

In early 1969, Martin Ackerman announced that the February 8, 1969, issue would be the magazine’s last. Ackerman stated that the magazine had lost $5 million in 1968 and would lose a projected $3 million in 1969.

This time, it was the Saturday Evening Post doing the slouching. Toward bankruptcy. [full disclosure: it did resurrect itself and is now a bimonthly and digital publication.]

Saturday Evening Post Hippie
Hippie,  Saturday Evening Post Hippie,  Saturday Evening Post Hippie, 
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1966 Monkees Premiere Appears

1966 Monkees Premiere Appears

September 12, 1966

Monkees Premiere

Beatlemania

The American Beatlemania that began in 1964 affected American businesses in many ways. The British Invasion, though initially referring to the dozens of British performers and bands that followed on the heels of John, Paul, George, and Ringo, spread commercially into clothing and other media, too.

1966 Monkees Premiere Appears

1966

By 1966, Bog Dylan had gone electric. The Beatles had gone herbal. Brian Wilson was Pet Sounds. And NBC decided that a Beatle-like band on a TV show was a good idea.

It was.

1966 Monkees Premiere Appears

1965

The idea to “create” a band was not new. Al Grossman created the Peter, Paul, and Mary trio, but the idea to create a band based more on acting than musical ability was new.

The first person to become a Monkee was 20-year-old Davy Jones. Jones had been a child actor and actually had an odd Beatle connection. He had played the Artful Dodger in the 1962  Broadway show Oliver!.  He performed a scene from that play on The Ed Sullivan Show the same night as the Beatles’ first appearance on that show, February 9, 1964.

An ad for the other three spots attracted 437 applicants. Chosen were Michael Nesmith, Micky Dolenz, and Peter Tork.

Nesmith had actually worked as a musician.  Micky Dolenz was an actor who had starred in the TV series Circus Boy as a child.

1966 Monkees Premiere Appears

The network selected Peter Tork last.  Stephen Stills had tried out but did not get the gig. Stills was the one who had told Peter Tork about the call.

1966 Monkees Premiere Appears

Monkees Premiere

Like any TV project, many people were involved. Don Kirshner was head of music and he selected Tommy Boyce and Bobby Hart to write music for the show and album. The Monkees themselves had limited roles musically, particularly at first. All these contradictions upset many in the band, particularly Michael Nesmith.

Eventually the four had much more control.

But…

As an opening salvo, Colgems released the The Monkees’ first single, “Last Train to Clarksville” on August 16, 1966, The first broadcast of the television show was on September 12, 1966 on NBC.

Colgems released the album, The Monkees, on October 1. It reached Billboard’s #1 album on November 12 and was there for 13 weeks; it charted for 78 weeks.

1966 Monkees Premiere Appears

Duchess of Harmonica

In the first episode, “The Royal Flush,” the Monkees foil a plot to assassinate princess Bettina, the Duchess of Harmonica. The show had two seasons with a total of 58 episodes.

Davy Jones died on February 29, 2012 (NYT obit).

1966 Monkees Premiere Appears
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