As historians, we can extract lots of information from sources, primary sources are particularly useful as they give accurate and sometimes ‘eye-witness’ accounts of events. The 1960’s was a time of change in Britain. The increase of disposable income meant young people had more to spend, and their choices of what to spend their money on defined the popular culture we now know today as ‘The Swinging Sixties’. Q. What can you learn from source A about the impact of the Beatles in the 1960’s?
A. Source A is a description of London, the capital of popular culture in the 1960’s. This source is very informative, however does not give a completely accurate account of popular culture in Britain as a whole, only London. Source A describes the colossal impact the Beatles had on British music. ‘Emptiness descended on London’ describes how almost every person was watching ‘Juke Box Jury’. Joanna Lumley wrote this description some 30 years later, in 1990, so her memory may have faded, so this again decreases the potential accuracy of the source.
The description of the Beatles – ‘cool, hip, smart, lippy, charming and funny’ denotes the respect and admiration young people had for the Beatles, if they had respectable personalities, their parents were more likely to approve. The last statement is perhaps the simplest, but it states clearly the opinion of most of the people at the time- ‘It was very heaven to be alive. ‘ Q. Does the evidence of Source C support the evidence of Sources A and B about the effects of pop music in the 1960’s? Explain your answer.
A. Source C does support the other sources the comment on the hysteria experienced by fans of popular bands at the time. The are all however written after the time, they are secondary sources, and A and B give accounts only of experiences in London. The accuracy of the points is increased by the fact that the tree opinions come from different people, of different backgrounds, and they all agree the 1960’s were a turning point in popular culture. Source A describes the sheer devotion from fans and the fascination with popular music- ‘the nation held its breath’.
Source B comments on the screaming, violence and above all absolute hysteria experienced by fans of such bands as the Rolling Stones for example: ‘terrified faces’ and ‘… heaving, maniacal, screaming mob. ‘. Source B and C both include accounts of concerts, and source does not mention hysteria, just the devotion and fascination. Source C however, comments that ‘… it was never as crazy as they used to say it was. ‘, so despite the seemingly impossible problem of fans, they could be restrained.
Q. How useful are sources D and E in helping you understand why many young people believed that the 1960’s gave them opportunities that they had never had before? A. Source D is limited as there is no existing evidence that show us these events were a regular occurrence. It does however state important information, for example popular bands and artists of the time, such as ‘Sandie Shaw’ and ‘The Animals’. Young people had little opportunity to make their own decisions about music, fashion etc. prior to the 1960’s, as they were expected to become minature versions of their parents.
It is however accurate, as it is a primary source. There was a distinct lack of entertainment programmes, on both television and radio aimed at young people, so the article suggests more was being done to feed the demands of the youth. Source E proves this assumption that young people were exercising their right to choose their likes and dislikes, they were determined to rebel against their parents. They made particular efforts to listen to pirate radio stations, for example ‘Radio Luxembourg’ This outraged parents, and was therefore was an even more attractive activity.
The source is not very accurate, as it was written 30 years after the rebellion of the 1960’s. The source comments on the BBC’s lack of entertainment for younger people, choosing to air programmes like ‘Sing Something Simple’. This caused teens to rebel and ‘attack the establishment’. Q. Use sources F and G, and your own knowledge, to explain why some people came to see the 1960’s as a period of bad influences on British society. A. Many people believe the 1960’s sparked off the ‘evils of society’ that are still prevalent today, such as drug abuse, promiscuity and religious opposition.
Source F states that “… the BBC exerts against much which is good and clean in our culture” Mary Whitehouse comments on the fact that the BBC in act made it “extremely difficult” for writers to get their work screened, even though it did not oppose social or religious views at the time. Mary Whitehouse, who was founder of the ‘Women Clean up TV Campaign’, voiced her concerns over the BBC’s “built in censorship”. The source and the views suggested in it are accurate as it was written in 1964.
However it does not give the views of the entire nation, just Mary Whitehouse and her fellow campaigners. Source G is again unreliable as it was published in the 1990’s, some 30 years after Janis Joplin’s rise to fame. It comments on the rebellion which occurred with most teenagers, causing them to want to be different from their parents and ‘attack the establishment’: ‘ She was a rebellious teenager’ the source states that Janis Joplin became ‘a national star’ after a pop festival in 1967.
Several factors contributed to her enormous fame as a singer in the 1960’s, firstly, with the rising support for feminism and power to women, female singers, actresses and even political figures was on the increase and secondly, her rebellious attitude and her excessive lifestyle (often known as the ‘rock and roll’ lifestyle) attracted many youngsters to her popular image. The 1960’s are remembered to have sparked of teenage rebellion, against parent, the government, and perhaps most shockingly of all at the time, religion.
Religious opposition has ignited many disputes in history, and in the 1960’s more and more young people ditched church and Sunday school for ‘free love’ and rock concerts. As is stated in source F, even the BBC was reported to have given in to conformity and was removing programmes of religious context. People still regard the 1960’s as a period of radical social, economic and political change. With a rising population, and a particular increase in the concentration of young people (due to the ‘baby boomers’ after World War Two) it was inevitable that the youth would rebel.
Teenage pregnancy rates increased, as promiscuity became less frowned upon. The invention of the contraceptive pill gave women and couples more freedom. The hippie movement caused a huge uprising, as thousands of followers flocked to festivals and ‘love ins’, donning cheesecloth shirts and sarongs, and many people still believe this dramatic change caused the popularity of drug abuse, alcoholism and sexually transmitted infections. Q. Study all of the sources. Popular culture in the 1960’s did more harm than good’ Use the sources and your own knowledge to explain whether you agree or disagree with this view’ A. Many people agree that the 1960’s saw a revolutionary change. Britain’s culture, economy and politics changed dramatically in the space of a few years. The majority of this changed was caused by the emerging ‘youth culture’, often strongly associated with the ‘evils of society’ such a drug abuse and promiscuity which are common in today’s modern culture.
At the time, the vast majority of people believed that there were minimal negative effects, for example in Source A Joanna Lumley states clearly a widespread view: ‘It was very heaven to be alive’ With young people having greatly increased spending power and independence, the country’s economy improved as popular culture began to take over many youngsters’ lives. Source H comments on the large increase in teen spending: ‘Today youth has money, and teenagers have become power’ Music was another key influence in the growth in youth culture.
Artists like The Beatles, Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix and the still legendary Rolling Stones were the icons of British youth and consequently became very famous, however this sometimes led to the abuse of drugs. In Source G the writer states Janis Joplin ‘… died of a drugs overdose in 1970’ Music is often blamed for the rapid increase in drug abuse, with popular songwriters releasing lyrics promoting such behaviour. Artists like Mick Jagger (Rolling Stones) often wrote about casual, unprotected sex, in songs like ‘Brown Sugar’ and ‘Can’t get no satisfaction’.
As Mick Jagger and many other artists following this trend were exceedingly popular, songs and the general ‘Sex, Drugs and Rock ‘n’ Roll’ Lifestyle became the norm for many rebellious teens. The BBC embraced the growing music culture by showing performance specials and with the arrival of ‘Juke Box Jury’ people could keep up with the ever changing music charts. Source A comments on the popularity of the show: ‘The nation held it’s breath’ although many artists caused negative effects, their music inspired some of the great musicians today, and gave young people independence and fed their need for good music.
Drug abuse became popular also with the new Hippie Movement. Thousand of youngsters sporting cheesecloths and bandannas would meet at ‘Love Ins’ and smoke large amounts of cannabis. Television, Radio and other sources of media such as magazines became popular with young people, as they could fulfil their rebellious needs by tuning into pirate radio stations such as ‘Radio Luxembourg’ as mentioned in Source E. The magazine titled ‘The Rolling Stone’ is still in print today.
Women and families gained much more freedom with the introduction of the contraceptive pill and the legalisation of abortion. The amount of women receiving ‘back street’ abortions dramatically decreased, and this saved many lives, however some people believe that the Pill and legalised abortion encouraged and permitted women to be more promiscuous and less careful. Sexually transmitted infections also rapidly increased, possibly as a result of this. Women became more empowered, with increased independence and equality; many women began to pursue careers otherwise reserved for men.
An example of this is Mary Whitehouse, she was very highly respected as founder of the Women Clean Up TV Campaign, and such positions of authority were usually not filled by women. Source F demonstrates this. In source I, a rapid increase in the numbers of students in full time education is shown, rising from 200,000 to 390,000 in just 8 years. This opposes the initial statement, as the 1960’s encouraged many young people to continue with education and this undoubtedly benefited society.