Few are aware of the great role The Beatles played in the formation of the hippie movement and its ideas. So, were the Beatles hippies? That's a difficult question to answer because it's like asking if the Beat Writers were beatniks or if Jesus was Christian? But not as difficult to answer as "What came first, the chicken or the egg?"

The Beatles preceded the fan frenzy called
Beatlemania, from which many hippies emerged. Beatniks, hipsters and hippies are a continuation of Bohemianism. They are persons with artistic or intellectual tendencies that live and act with little regard for conventional rules of behavior. The bohemian subculture is deeply rooted in centuries old liberal European artistic scene. The Beatles were introduced to that bohemian scene when they were in their teens. It was in the red-light district of Reeperbahn in Hamburg, Germany where they had a successful gig for several months, which is a long time for young music artists. They also traveled around Europe and visited Edinburgh, Paris and Spain. In Germany, they changed their hairstyles and met some famous American Rock-N-Roll artists such as Chuck Berry and Fats Domino.

Early hippies were different from hipsters and other counterculture groups that preceded them. Early hippies followed Beat Writers, and British Mod fashions that were brought to America by British music artists. And, I haven't met a hippie that wasn't a Beatles fan. The Beatles introduced America to long hair fashions for men,
Beatle boots, and new way of playing American Rock-N-Roll music that created the new British sound. The Mod fashions that followed them from London were colorful and had abstract designs at a time when men dressed in flat, gray colors, wore short hair, combed hair backwards and used brilliantine made by Vitalis to keep the hair shining and in place. Today, many examples of British Mod fashions can be found in the Austin Powers film series, for example.

Hippies were an American youth movement that demanded more personal rights and freedoms then most Americans were willing to accept. It was not accepted for boys to wear long hair or to wear colorful clothing, in those days. Needless to say, barbers disliked long hair and hippie fashions. That created a market for men's hair stylists, who became an alternative for traditional barbers. Besides the fashions and trends in music, hippies also demonstrated against US policies, the Vietnam War, the arms race, for nuclear disarmament, ecology and other issues that were met with little understanding in those years, and which were often considered to be anti American. They brought new awareness and many social-political and cultural changes in the United States and abroad. Hippies questioned popular values and beliefs, and so did The Beatles. Hippies professed ideas of peace, love, pacifism, ecology, civil rights, gay rights, freedom and so did The Beatles. In just a few years, hippies had followers allover the world. Hence, in America the label "hippy" or "hippie" is a synonym of "a social reformer", "free thinker" and also a "user of mind-expanding psychedelic drugs" such as
marihuana or LSD that The Beatles also wrote songs about, for example "Day Tripper".

On July 6, 1961,
John Lennon was asked by a reporter from Mersey Beat (Vol.1 No. 1) how did the name Beatles arrive? He replied "It came in a vision - a man appeared on a flaming pie and said 'From this day on you are Beatles, spelled with an A'. Thank you Mister Man, they said, thanking him." That spelling identified the band with beatniks, hipsters and hippies. The Beatles were very popular among all progressive-minded social groups of the 1960-70s and still are long after they've broken up. That made them good bridge-building Ambassadors for the 1960s Peace Movement and Hippy Movement. They were four boys from Liverpool with a great sense of humor. That's why sometimes they were compared to the Marx Brothers. Perhaps that's why they shocked the public and their fans when they spoke out seriously and honestly on controversial issues. The most controversial of the four was John Lennon. John Lennon was charged for drug abuse in England and had to seek refuge in America. He applied for a Green Card (permanent residence) at the Immigration and Naturalization Office in New York. But even though he was still a British citizen and a fugitive from the law awaiting approval from the American authorities, he and Yoko Ono - his Japanese wife did not refrain from public criticism of the Vietnam War or President Nixon. When John Lennon was asked in 1971 whether songs like "Give Peace a Chance" and "Power to the People" were propaganda songs, he answered: "Sure. So was 'All You Need Is Love'. I'm a revolutionary artist. My art is dedicated to change."

The world as we knew it was transformed into a different state of being, a different state of consciousness by The Beatles and their followers. The band managed to unite people from all walks of life and all religions. They did not conform to any given system, did not follow the mainstream culture but created their own, and stood by what they believed in. They were more then just artists or another music group. They were a new breed of bohemian artists from the Old Continent, from Europe. In the late 1960s and early 1970s The Beatles considered themselves to be hippies. That fact is well documented in their own words and can be found in several sources such as
The Beatles Anthology.

In a short time, Beatles and hippies had much of the nation and the world behind them. As a result of that and the work of antiwar activists and other events that followed, President Nixon lost office, the US backed out of Vietnam and President Carter lifted the draft and gave amnesty to many draft evaders (the author was one of them). Since that time, no other generation of young Americans had to face a draft and fight in a war against their own will. Today, the US has a professional military staff dedicated to the craft, and no one is forced to join the forces against his or her will. And as we all now know, not all wars our troops participated in were necessary for national defense as much as for
Wall Street. And as we know it, not all folks are made for fighting. Now, young people can grow and develop naturally without being forced to go through a boot camp at a time when they'd prefer to do other things with their life. The music and popularity of The Beatles were also responsible for many changes in distant parts of the world; including the former Soviet Union.

I wonder if there's any other country in the world where foreigners could have been allowed to do as much as The Beatles did in America for the whole world? I also wonder if there is any other place in the world where one generation of young people could have as much influence on its government's fundamental policies as hippies had in a peaceful way, without overthrowing a government, and in a short time (1965-1970)? Those were just some so called miracles of The Beatles and
1960s Youth Revolution.

For many Beatles fans like me; especially in America, the band descended on a
PanAm jet from another world, parallel to ours. And they were greated like a divine descent. The Beatles didn't just play great music or introduce new fashions from England but brought new ideas that changed the world. It was also The Beatles' interest in Maharishi Yogi and Prabhupada that made those two the best known Yoga Gurus in the world, at that time. As far as I can remember, Paul McCartney and George Harrison completed Yoga Teachers' training courses, and passed on many Yogic ideas to us in their works. That's why in my opinion, they were the first Yoga Gurus for many of their fans and followers.

The author is also a
Yoga teacher. Here's a free introductory Yoga lesson.
a) Put yourself in a good frame of mind.
b) Sit down in a comfortable position and relax.
c) Breathe slowly and regularly chanting the following Mantra: “So Hung” (“So” on the in-breath and “Hung” on the out-breath).
d) Focus your mind on the idea that All is One and You are One with All.

Now that you've had that first lesson, we'll continue with the story of The Beatles and hippies using advanced Yoga language, the language of images and symbols... Images and symbols are very difficult to decipher without proper initiation into their meaning as opposed to encryption, for example. So the following may be a bit difficult to understand for some readers.

So now, here comes the Sun! We could imagine The Beatles as the four Gods (
Brahma) that created, supported and transformed the world. Those more advanced in Tantra Yoga could also imagine them as the four aspects of Antahkarana, for example, and The Rolling Stones that followed The Beatles to America and recorded "I Can't Get No Satisfaction" could be incorporated in that picture, and imagined as the five senses and their organs of action. That's because those two bands were adored by their fans almost as if they were gods in the 1960s and beyond. But please don't take the above visualizations too literally. I'm using here some metaphors mixed with a bit of humor to illustrate the special importance these artists and their music had for many members of my generation. I'm not writing about The Rolling Stones, about Donovan or any other British artists that followed The Beatles to the USA. They would be another subject for another article.

Haight-Ashbury, Chicago's Old Town, NY's Greenwich Village and other hippie Meccas of the 1960s; as well as mass events such as the Monterey Pop Festival, Summer of Love in 1967 or the Woodstock Festival in mid-August 1969 are also remembered as sort of sacred hippie grounds and holiday type events. So, it could be said that hippiedom is a free worldview that is followed by those that believe in peace, love and personal freedom. It's a worldview associated with some iconic signs like the Peace sign or The Beatles and some loose ideas but no sacred texts, no leaders or organized institutions. Woodstock brought massive changes in public perception of reality. Besides the large hippie events of the 1960s, there were many others that are less known. Some of those were called "happenings", "be-ins" and music festivals, concerts, coffee houses, poetry readings, pot parties, beach parties, protests etc. A hippie gathering was anywhere where hippies gathered, at concerts, in private homes, parks, forests, beaches, on campuses etc.; where there were long haired boys and girls, sounds of mellow music, the spirit of peace & love, and a scent of incense.

Whether this new age will be better or worse does not depend on the stars, the position of the planets, holy books, prophecies and other things that work in a magic way on the imagination. It will depend on what we do to change the world, on what stands we take, and on how we stand up for what we believe in. So
Flower Children, have hope and keep the faith. May the groove (energy, force or Shakti) be with you always.

In conclusion, The Beatles caused irreversible mental changes on a massive scale around the world. They had great influence on the development of the hippie movement. The Beatles as well as The Rolling Stones and many other artists of the 1960s spread ideas of Peace & Love, which are fundamental ideas for hippies.

Adam Wojtanek
aka. The Polish Hippy

   



The Beatles - Wikipedia
The Beatles albums - Wikipedia
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