Boisdale Life Magazine (Issue 18) - Page 31

1960s, the sense was of the
dawning of a golden age in human
history. By the end of the decade,
it seemed as if the world was
tearing itself apart at the seams.
“It was a year of extremes of
violence and madness as well as
achievement and success,”
explains Barry Miles, co-founder
of International Times, the
underground newspaper. On the
latter front, the world entered the
supersonic age with the maiden
flight, in March, of Concorde, the
British-French passenger jet. In
July, Neil Armstrong and Edwin
‘Buzz’ Aldrin became the first men
to set foot on the Moon. And the
perfect soundtrack had appeared
just nine days before.
Inspired by astronaut Bill
Anders’ iconic photograph of Earth
from the Apollo 8 spacecraft, David Bowie wrote
‘Space Oddity’ on a 12-string guitar and a Stylophone
given to him by his friend, Marc Bolan. It brought the
still relatively unknown Bowie his first Top 10 hit.
The moon landings suggested a bold future, but the
public mood was darker, especially in the States. The
Manson Family murders in Los Angeles set the tone,
while the tide of opinion rapidly turned against the
country’s involvement in the Vietnam War. The mood
was captured by the Rolling Stones, who kicked off
Let It Bleed – their final album of the Sixties – with the
incendiary ‘Gimme Shelter’, a song that symbolised
the end of the decade’s utopian spirit: “That’s a kind
of end-of-the-world song,” Mick Jagger explained to
Rolling Stone. “It’s apocalypse. ‘Let It Bleed’ is a very
moody piece about the world closing in on you. When
it was recorded in early ’69, it was a time of war and
tension. It was a very rough, very violent era.”
Scenes from 1969: Top, the Beatles give
a rooftop concert in January for the
launch of Let It Be – it would be the Fab
Four’s last ever performance. Above,
David Bowie in Hyde Park at the time
of ‘Space Oddity’. Above right, The
Beatles’ Abbey Road album cover.
Opposite page, Led Zeppelin at the
Château Marmont in LA
ewlyweds John Lennon and Yoko Ono had a
different response to that violence: In May,
they embarked on two week-long Bed-Ins For
Peace (first at the Hilton Hotel in Amsterdam and then
at the Queen Elizabeth Hotel in Montreal), which they
saw as a new way of promoting their anti-war
message. When a journalist asked why he felt he could
succeed where so many others had failed, Lennon
simply replied: “It’s like saying, ‘Why bother keeping
Christianity alive just because Jesus was killed?’ We
don’t think people have really tried advertising peace
before. If anybody thinks our campaign is naïve, then
that’s okay. Publicity is our game. Because of The
Beatles, that’s the trade I’ve learned.”

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