Monday, 15 September 2008

There's a Riot Going On: Revolutionaries, Rock Stars, and the Rise and Fall of the '60s

Extensive coverage of Phil Ochs in this book - a rarity among the plethora of sixties rock books that have been written.


Between 1965 and 1972, political activists around the globe prepared to mount a revolution. While the Vietnam War raged, calls for black power grew louder and liberation movements erupted everywhere from Berkeley, Detroit, and Newark, to Paris, Berlin, Ghana, and Peking.

Rock and soul music fueled the revolutionary movement with anthems and iconic imagery. Soon the musicians themselves, from John Lennon to Bob Dylan to James Brown and Fela Kuti, were being dragged into the fray. Some joined the protestors on the barricades, some were persecuted for their political activism, and some abandoned the cause and were dismissed as counterrevolutionaries.

Scrutinizing the ways in which musicians reacted to the movement, Doggett exposes the myths behind their involvement to show that, contrary to belief, many were actually reluctant figureheads, while others merely paraded as revolutionaries, acting with a bourgeois curiosity that negated the ideas of peace that musicians proselytized and that their lyrics idealized.

From Mick Jagger's legendary appearance in Grosvenor Square standing on the sidelines and snapping pictures, to the infamous incident during the Woodstock Festival when Pete Townshend kicked Yippie Abbie Hoffman off the stage while he tried to make a speech about an imprisoned comrade, to Lennon's display of self-publicity when he auctioned off his hair on top of the Black House, Doggett unravels the truth about how these were not the "Street Fighting Men" they saw themselves as and how the increasing corporatization of the music industry played an integral role in derailing the cultural dream.

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