Los Angeles, CA, USA August 15, 2008. Amongst the protests of antiwar and economic uncertainty growing stronger with no end in site, I would like draw attention to artwork from the 1960's that has made an impact on my life. Remember the day glow posters and black lights? Remember the rock art from The Fillmore play bills we all saved? Remember the image from Hair the American Tribal Love Rock Musical? All these and more will always hang in my mind as remembrance of a time of innocence. Drugs, Sex and Rock and Roll were a part of most of the baby boomers lives when we were not afraid to get stoned and attend an antiwar peace protest. I will always remember protesting the Vietnam War in NYC and a blurry instance of running over the rocks and hills in Central Park when we were chased by police at a Schaefer Music Festival Concert in Central Park. We can all relive the experiences of going to Led Zeppelin, Edgar Winter, Johnny Winter, Black Sabbath, and Grand Funk Rail Road concerts...what a time we had....Quaaludes, Benzedrine, Tuinals, Seconals. Boones Farm anyone? Though the majority of of us are all clean and sober now...it is still fun to reminisce those great days.
The memories I have of the Hippie movement are resonating more today than ever with the revival of Hair the American Tribal Love Rock Musical free concert at Central Park's Delacorte Theater. The message is resonating more strongly with the youth and young adults of the world today than perhaps ever before. When asked recently about the resonance and resurgence of this iconic symbol on today's young adults, the plays legendary producer, Michael Butler, answered emphatically, "It isn't coming back, it never left, Hair's message is more relevant today than its ever been. Over 11 million people have seen the play, an estimated quarter of a billion have heard the music. It's in dozens of productions around the world as we speak. In fact, a third of all American actors have had some association with Hair. Its been a force for good for almost four decades."
The Age of Aquarius times of running around as free as a bird was a time in history when we lived in the moment without a worry in the world. Hair, the first ever rock opera, opened in 1968 and all of us would travel into the city form Long Island and New Jersey to participate in this communal offering giving us an insight into the decade of the flower children which we were all very much a part of. It shocked audiences for its lyrics and subject matter, as well as onstage nudity. The original script contains a nude scene, but it is not essential to the plot and individual productions may or may not choose to include it. The original script also contains some racist language which again, may be edited on today's stage.
As reported recently in "USA Today" the New York based trend forecasting think tank, The Trends Research Institute, found something unique in American history, a new generation looking back in time for inspiration... specifically, the 1960's.
"Hair" grew out of a new downtown ethos embraced by the radical - and charismatic - Joseph Papp, who in the mid-'60s was adding the Public Theater to his New York Shakespeare Festival in Central Park. After a brief run at a nightclub called Cheetah, the show was picked up by Michael Butler, heir to a Chicago paper fortune. He had it restaged by Tom O'Horgan, and readied for Broadway in 1968.
"As I look through my old posters, play bills, and concert flyers I've collected through the years I have such fond memories of growing up in the 60's. As a young girl living in Southern California life was quite enjoyable. Saving my allowance to buy the latest albums, going to concerts...it was all so exciting. One of my most happy memories is seeing the touring production of the musical Hair...and I still have the play booklet. Over the past few years I have been collecting Hair posters from all over the world, in different languages from different Tribes! The best poster in my collection is the reproduction of the original from the 1968 Broadway opening There is something mesmerizing about the aura photographed around the actors head. I love the colors of this art piece of which promote brotherly love and world peace.".....states Myrle Atchley from Mississippi.
There are many great 60's pop artists; I love Andy Warhol, John Van Hamersveld, Roy Lichtenstein, and Bob Massy. There is something really special about the work that Russoli and Rodriquez created for Hair. They were experimenting the aura technique in photography. When approached by Producer Michael Butler with the idea to create the marketing for the new play, he introduced them to Steve Curry, one of the original actors in the soon to open Broadway production of Hair. The play opened on April 29th at The Biltmore Theater in NYC and sold out every night and ran for 1,750 performances. I was 16 years old at West Hempstead High School when my girlfriend's mom took us into Manhattan to see the show.
Forty years later, I love the art hanging on my wall. Frame and hang and enjoy as art takes you through the memories and the journey of our lives.
Art imitates life and as we witness today's youth letting there hair down and getting that what we lived through in the sixties parallels with what is happening in the world today.
On with the Hairy revolution.