The Sixties: Radicalism and Counter-Culture





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I want to put up resources for the Sixties on this page rather than on the module guide. I am proposing to divide up the material thematically rather than by year of decade.


My current sense of the main themes under which links should be organised are:



1)   1945-55 & Politics and economics 1955-75 e.g. Atlee/Churchill/rise of Welfare State/Cultural Democracy

Eden/Macmillan/Home/Wilson/Heath; Suez; Profumo affair etc

2)   Literature either of the time: McInnnes, Colin Wilson, Amis, Wain, Bradbury, Byatt etc

3)   Music of the 20th century: modern classical/avant-garde – Schonberg to Stockhausen&Xenakis

4) Popular Music: from 50s crooners to Prog Rock; Sinatra to Soft Machine

5) Arts: painting/sculpture/multi-media

6) Design and Fashion: homes, interior design, furniture, clothes, everyday culture: food, hairstyle…

7) Radical Political and Social Ideas: Situationism/Autonomism/radical psychiatry/Laing etc.

8) Politics activism/protest right and left: CND,  League of Empire Loyalists, March on Pentagon, Grosvenor Sq

protest, May ’68, Feminism, Germany/Italy in 60s through to 70s Red Brigades, various revolutionary/neo-fascist groups…

9) Psychedelia/Counter-culture: all that hippie stuff – psychedelic events, underground magazines, head shops,

 paraphernalia, Festivals, the ‘scene’ from Sgt Pepper to 70s communes.

10) Media in the Sixties (1955-75): TV, Radio, Film, recording industry…

11) The Permissive Society: Sex, Drugs, Abortion, Capital Punishment, Homosexuality, loose morals!

12) Teenagers, Youth cultures, sub-cultures.




General links of use to study of The Sixties.

BBC's On this day: searchable audio/video data base for any day of the post-war period from 1950 onwards.







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Post-war history: 1945-55 & Politics and economics 1955-75.

Prime Ministers of Britain: does what it says on the tin.


good article on Profumo scandal


Useful chronology of events 1950-59


Official MI5/Foreign Office website on spies in 50s and 60s


UK strikes data for number of work days lost and number of strikers involved. 1918-2005. Low number of workers involved, but many days lost = a long strike. Note especially period for 1955-1979. Please note that the entries are in ‘000s’ of workers/days lost…so multiply the numbers by a factor of a thousand


Useful article with links on Labour Party history








The Permissive Society: Sex, Drugs, Abortion, Capital Punishment, Homosexuality, loose morals!

Gay History 60s &


History of CHE – Campaign for  Homosexual Equality


Capital punishment in Britain


Bibliography of Gay History


Medical treatment of Homosexuals in 1950s


History of Abortion Law


Abortion  law reform 1967


Review of new book on history of the pill






Teenagers, youth culture and sub-cultures

resume of youth culture trends 50s/60s

















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Literature: Waugh/Mitford, new provincialism (Amis/Wain), Beats, Moorcock; poetry: Ginsburg to Gunn.

Paper on Colin McInnes' London novels


Look here for stuff about the Beats and more


Culture of the beats


The Beats and existentialism and bit on basic existentialism for context.


Interview with Colin Wilsonhe of the awful but influential book: ‘The Outsider’ (1957) that introduced so many young people wanting new ideas to existentialism and radical literary and philosophical ideas. It was a pot-boiler but a best-seller.


Page on the Marat/Sade – 60s theatre – Peter Weiss/Peter Brook








Music of the 20th century: modern classical/avant-garde

blurb from BBC 4 prog on experimental music

Xenakis interview: right up there with Boulez and Stockhausen, but also an architect, mathematician, aesthetician….

biography of Boulez: long bio of Pierre Boulez, perhaps  the most influential French composer/conductor since 1945; see IRCAM

Listen  to Boulez' music: scroll down a bit and click on  audio or  video to hear/see some Boulez music

Boulez discography

official Stockhausen biography: Stockhausen electro-acoustic composer and  enfant terrible in the 50s and 60s. In the 60s was the last word in avant-garde music. Important works are: Gesang der Junglinge, Kontakte, Momente, Hymnen, Mantra, Stimmung, From the 7 Days. From the early 70s moved into ‘intuitive music’ – playing sounds in response to written statements.

Stockhausen discussed by Czukay: Czukay was part of the Stockhausen-influenced 70s major Kraut-rock band, ‘Can’. So interesting on two counts: that it’s Holger Czukay writing, and KS who is being discussed.

Stockhausen video interview: this is really good – vid/music/discussion. KS plays awkward with the BBC2 interviewer’s naïve questions.

Stockhausen and the Beatles: Stockhausen is on the cover of Sgt Peppers album

Stockhausen bio: excited rather over-hyped view of  Stockhausen, but entertaining and pictures of KS in 1950s

Stockhausen's Hymnen: guide to his greatest electronic work from 60s

Stockhausen: discussion of 'Pole' (1969) Very good discussion of ‘Pole’; nice images.

Stockhausen's Licht: a huge opera cycle KS has been working on for over a quarter of a century. Not 60s but what he has been doing since the 70s

Stockhausen interview and another KS interview (very good)

Cardew's 'Stockhausen serves Imperialism' attack: here is a download of this famous ‘maoist’ attack on Stockhausen by his former assistant (see below) Very much an item of the late-60s/early70s. See the other stuff on Cardew on this site.

Kagel interview: major composer in 60s and 70s

Hugh Davies: important british electronics composer/sound artist from 60s onwards

John Cage interview: the most influential experimental composer/multi-media artist of the 20th C.

Robert Ashley interview: major US experimental composer from 60s – involved with Fluxus group etc – at the heart of the US avant-garde, teaching at Mills College and has done multi-media TV operas e.g. ‘Perfect Lives’.

AMM interview: cult electronics/free/improvised jazz outfit from 60s.

LaMonte Young: along with his wife Marian Zazeela, created the Theatre of Eternal Music – a cult figure alongside Terry Riley. ‘a need to know about’ figure.

LaMonte Young's writing +....

Terry Riley: US Experimental ‘Minimalist’ composer of In C, Rainbow in Curved Air and Persian Surgery Dervishes.

John White: 60s/70s british experimental composer. (link to Cornelius Cardew and to Brian Eno’s ‘Obscure Music label)

Howard Skempton: 60s/70s british experimental composer. (link to Cornelius Cardew and to Brian Eno’s ‘Obscure Music label)

Evan Parker: UK free/impro jazz composer/performer – link to AMM (above) and INCUS records.

Veryan Weston/Phil Minton: important jazz players/composers from 60s onwards – link to Mike Westbrook.

Barry Guy: composer/performer; in 60s/70s was a free jazz bassist, and main man in London Jazz Composers Orch.

Cornelius Cardew: assistant to Stockhausen in early 60s; politically radical composer; huge influence on Experimental music in UK. A major ‘to know about’ figure. Marxist/sometime Maoist

Christopher Hobbs: UK experimental composer in 60s/70s – link to Cardew.

Hugh Shrapnel: Another Cardew collaborator in both Marxist (pro-Lenin/Mao) politics and experimental music

Scratch Orchestra: THE Experimental Music group of the late 60s; radical, Marxist, led by Cardew/Shrapnel etc.


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Music: ‘Popular’: crooners, do-wop, skiffle, RnR, 60s pop, Glam, Psychedelic, Prog rock          

Links to Psychedelic and prog rock videos: Pink Floyd, Zappa, caravan, Gentle Giant, van der Graaf Generator, Grateful Dead, Jefferson Airplane…


Prog Archive for a huge resource of all kinds of 60s/prog Rock stuff – and there is lots of streamed music to listen to.


Soft Machine - listen to Moon in June - here and also Soft machine resource, Caravan, Hatfield and the North, Robert Wyatt…. To listen to this music go to Cuneiform Records


Calyx website is a great resource for all kinds of prog rock, jazz rock etc info and sounds


Tim Blake: keyboards man with Gong and did cult album – Crystal Machine.


Ian Carr and Nucleus, Norma Winstone, Graham Collier, Ronnie Scott, Bob Downes, Elton Dean. All important british jazz people in 60s and 70s. All involved in ememrgence of jazz-rock in early 70s.


Jefferson Airplane: THE west coast psychedelic band.


Pop charts in 50s and 60s & quick history of rise of Pop


The influence of William Burroughs on avant-rock&pop


ok-ish piece on Frank Zappa




Art: plastic arts: painting, sculpture, performance art, multi-media.

link to artists and their work.


















Design and fashion: things and styles  

Design in the 50s and 60s


quick V&A article on 60s fashion


1950s fashions - excellent page


Pictures of 1950s TV sets












Radical Political and Social Ideas     

History of L'Autonomia in Italy:  autonomous Marxism/anarchism that appeared after ’68 (and in Germany with the Autonomen movement.


Good review article on Autonomia that comments on what others have written; and a variety of articles here


Another useful history of Auotnomous workers movement in Italy in the 60s


Negri on the Hot Autumns in 1970s Italy.


Link to a short commentary on Autonomen movement. Mostly about 1980s onwards but some stuff on 60s/70s. And this and this.


Situationist texts & Situationist Links& Ken Knabb's classic edition of SI texts & More SI links


what is anti-psychiatry & Ronald Laing - radical psychiatrist


History of New Left Review (which is also a contribution to the History of the New Left itself)


Trotskyite analysis of history of New left by Paul Blackledge AND a reply to it.






Politics activism/protest right and left: CND,  League of Empire Loyalists, March on Pentagon,

Grosvenor Sq protest, May ’68, Feminism, Germany/Italy: Red Brigades, revolutionary/neo-fascist groups

Article on Student/worker alliances in Paris, May ’68.      


New link to Tom Levin and others discuss Situationist film and Guy Debord.


Links to Vietnam Resources


Sixties Project: Bibliography of the Sixties and the Viet Nam War


Photographs from the Sixties: Vietnam and the San Francisco Bay Area 1966-1971


Good resource page on US 60s culture


Eye witness account of May 68 & May 68 posters & More posters & downloadable footage of the May events


videos of May '68 from French TV. Lot of good clips.



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Psychedelia/Counter-culture: all that hippie stuff – psychedelic events, underground magazines,

paraphernalia, Festivals, the ‘scene’ from Sgt Pepper to 70s communes.

Link to: article/diary of psychedelic/counter-culture in London – note all the names of people, bands, events, places…


UK counter-culture pictures


Terence McKenna: counter-culturalist and interestingly strange/alternative drugs fiend! More 70s/80s person.


Strange Attractor: a magazine of today that is psychedelically sixties – have a look


The Last Days of the Underground 1978-1988 – radical arts/culture retrospective at ICA


Art and Punk exhibition/Retrospective, Barbican, London









Media in the Sixties (1955-75): TV, Radio, Film, recording industry…

1960s Films


British cinema in 1950s


60s/70s rock stars who rejected commercial pop and link to Scott Walker piece (he of the ‘Walker brothers’ pop group) Did some classic 60s pop and then produced strange and wonderful albums in 90s onwards e.g. ‘Tilt’ and ‘The Drift’’.


Kenneth Anger: post-war experimental film maker – important and worth knowing about.











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