Portal:1960s

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The 1960s Portal


"The Sixties", as they are known in both scholarship and popular culture, is a term used by historians, journalists, and other objective academics; in some cases nostalgically to describe the counterculture and revolution in social norms about clothing, music, drugs, dress, formalities and schooling. Conservatives denounce the decade as one of irresponsible excess and flamboyance, and decay of social order. The decade was also labeled the Swinging Sixties because of the fall or relaxation of social taboos especially relating to racism and sexism that occurred during this time.

The 1960s became synonymous with the new, radical, and subversive events and trends of the period. In Africa the 1960s was a period of radical political change as 32 countries gained independence from their European colonial rulers.

Some commentators have seen in this era a classical Jungian nightmare cycle, where a rigid culture, unable to contain the demands for greater individual freedom, broke free of the social constraints of the previous age through extreme deviation from the norm. Christopher Booker charts the rise, success, fall/nightmare and explosion in the London scene of the 1960s. However, this alone does not explain the mass nature of the phenomenon.

Several nations such as the U.S., France, Germany and Britain turned to the left in the early and mid 1960s. In the United States, John F. Kennedy, a Keynesian and staunch anti-communist, pushed for social reforms. His assassination in 1963 was a stunning shock. Liberal reforms were finally passed under Lyndon B. Johnson including civil rights for African Americans and healthcare for the elderly and the poor. Despite his large-scale Great Society programs, Johnson was increasingly reviled by the New Left at home and abroad. The heavy-handed American role in the Vietnam War outraged student protestors across the globe, as they found peasant rebellion typified by Ho Chi Minh and Che Guevara more appealing. Italy formed its first left-of-center government in March 1962 with a coalition of Christian Democrats, Social Democrats, and moderate Republicans. Socialists joined the ruling block in December 1963. In Britain, the Labour Party gained power in 1964. In Brazil, João Goulart became president after Jânio Quadros resigned.

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On June 5, 1968, presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy was mortally wounded shortly after midnight at the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles. Earlier that evening, the 42-year-old junior senator from New York was declared the winner in the South Dakota and California 1968 Democratic Party presidential primaries during the 1968 United States presidential election. He was pronounced dead at 1:44 a.m. PDT on June 6, about 26 hours after he had been shot.

Following dual victories in the California and South Dakota primary elections for the Democratic nomination for President of the United States, Senator Kennedy spoke to journalists and campaign workers at a live televised celebration from the stage of his headquarters at the Ambassador Hotel. Shortly after leaving the podium and exiting through a kitchen hallway, he was mortally wounded by multiple shots fired from a handgun. Kennedy died in the Good Samaritan Hospital 26 hours later. The shooter was 24-year-old Sirhan Sirhan. In 1969, Sirhan was convicted of murdering the senator and sentenced to death. His sentence was commuted to life in prison in 1972. A freelance newspaper reporter recorded the shooting on audio tape, and the aftermath was captured on film. ( Full article...)

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Rolling Stones performing on stage in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. From left: Charlie Watts on brown drum set, Ronnie Wood wearing a purple jacket with black jeans playing a silver coloured guitar, Mick Jagger wearing black shirt and pants playing an orange/yellow guitar, Keith Richards with a green vest and black clothing playing an orange/yellow guitar (similar to Jagger's)
The Rolling Stones performing at Summerfest in Milwaukee in 2015, from left to right: Charlie Watts, Ronnie Wood, Mick Jagger and Keith Richards

The Rolling Stones are an English rock band formed in London in 1962. Diverging from the pop rock of the early-1960s, the Rolling Stones pioneered the gritty, heavier-driven sound that came to define hard rock. Their first stable line-up was vocalist Mick Jagger, multi-instrumentalist Brian Jones, guitarist Keith Richards, drummer Charlie Watts, and bassist Bill Wyman. During their formative years Brian Jones was the primary leader: he put the band together, named it, and drove the sound and look of the band. After Andrew Loog Oldham became the group's manager in 1963, he encouraged them to write their own songs. Jagger and Richards became the primary creative force behind the band, alienating Jones, who developed a drug addiction that interfered with his ability to meaningfully contribute. He left the band shortly before his death in 1969, having been replaced by guitarist Mick Taylor, who in turn left in 1974 to be replaced by Ronnie Wood. Since Wyman's departure in 1993, the band has continued on as a four-piece.

Rooted in blues and early rock and roll, the Rolling Stones started out playing covers and were at the forefront of the British Invasion in 1964, also being identified with the youthful and rebellious counterculture of the 1960s. They then found greater success with their own material as " (I Can't Get No) Satisfaction", " Get Off of My Cloud" and " Paint It Black" became No. 1 hits in the UK, North America, Australia and Europe. Aftermath (1966) – their first entirely original album – is considered the most important of their formative records. In 1967, they had the double-sided hit " Ruby Tuesday"/" Let's Spend the Night Together" and then experimented with psychedelic rock on Their Satanic Majesties Request. They went back to their roots with such hits as " Jumpin' Jack Flash" (1968) and " Honky Tonk Women" (1969), and albums such as Beggars Banquet (1968), featuring " Sympathy for the Devil", and Let It Bleed (1969), featuring " You Can't Always Get What You Want" and " Gimme Shelter". Let It Bleed was the first of five straight No. 1 albums in the UK. In 1969, they were first introduced on stage as 'The Greatest Rock and Roll Band in the World'. ( Full article...)

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George Wallace's Stand in the Schoolhouse Door
Credit: U.S. News & World Report
Attempting to block racial integration at the University of Alabama, Governor George Wallace (left) stands defiantly at the door on June 11, 1963, in an incident known as the Stand in the Schoolhouse Door. Wallace moved aside after being ordered to do so by President John F. Kennedy; years later, he became a born-again Christian and recanted his segregationist views.

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Tents in Resurrection City in Washington, D.C.

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Armstrong posing in his spacesuit
Armstrong in April 1969

Neil Alden Armstrong (August 5, 1930 – August 25, 2012) was an American astronaut and aeronautical engineer, and the first person to walk on the Moon. He was also a naval aviator, test pilot, and university professor.

A graduate of Purdue University, Armstrong studied aeronautical engineering; his college tuition was paid for by the U.S. Navy under the Holloway Plan. He became a midshipman in 1949 and a naval aviator the following year. He saw action in the Korean War, flying the Grumman F9F Panther from the aircraft carrier USS Essex. In September 1951, while making a low bombing run, Armstrong's aircraft was damaged when it collided with an anti-aircraft cable, strung across a valley, which cut off a large portion of one wing. Armstrong was forced to bail out. After the war, he completed his bachelor's degree at Purdue and became a test pilot at the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA) High-Speed Flight Station at Edwards Air Force Base in California. He was the project pilot on Century Series fighters and flew the North American X-15 seven times. He was also a participant in the U.S. Air Force's Man in Space Soonest and X-20 Dyna-Soar human spaceflight programs. ( Full article...)

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Pelé in 1995

Edson Arantes do Nascimento (Brazilian Portuguese:  [ˈɛtsõ (w)ɐˈɾɐ̃tʃiz du nɐsiˈmẽtu]; born 23 October 1940), known as Pelé ( [peˈlɛ]), is a Brazilian former professional footballer who played as a forward. Regarded as one of the greatest players of all time and labelled "the greatest" by FIFA, he was among the most successful and popular sports figures of the 20th century. In 1999 he was named Athlete of the Century by the International Olympic Committee and was included in the Time list of the 100 most important people of the 20th century. In 2000, Pelé was voted World Player of the Century by the International Federation of Football History & Statistics (IFFHS), and was one of the two joint winners of the FIFA Player of the Century. His total of 1,279 goals in 1,363 games, which included friendlies, is recognised as a Guinness World Record.

Pelé began playing for Santos at age 15 and the Brazil national team at 16. During his international career, he won three FIFA World Cups: 1958, 1962 and 1970, the only player to do so. Pelé is the all-time leading goalscorer for Brazil with 77 goals in 92 games. At club level he is Santos' all-time top goalscorer with 643 goals from 659 games. In a golden era for Santos, he led the club to the 1962 and 1963 Copa Libertadores, and to the 1962 and 1963 Intercontinental Cup. Credited with connecting the phrase " The Beautiful Game" with football, Pelé's "electrifying play and penchant for spectacular goals" made him a star around the world, and his teams toured internationally in order to take full advantage of his popularity. During his playing days, Pelé was for a period the best-paid athlete in the world. Since retiring in 1977, Pelé has been a worldwide ambassador for football and has made many acting and commercial ventures. In 2010, he was named the Honorary President of the New York Cosmos. ( Full article...)

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Promotional photograph of Jim Morrison during The Smothers Brothers Show in 1968

James Douglas Morrison (December 8, 1943 – July 3, 1971) was an American singer, musician, songwriter and poet, who was the lead vocalist of the rock band the Doors. Due to his wild personality, poetic lyrics, distinctive voice, unpredictable and erratic performances, and the dramatic circumstances surrounding his life and early death, Morrison is regarded by music critics and fans as one of the most iconic and influential frontmen in rock history. Since his death, his fame has endured as one of popular culture's most rebellious and oft-displayed icons, representing the generation gap and youth counterculture.

Together with pianist Ray Manzarek, Morrison co-founded the Doors in July 1965 in Venice, California. The band spent two years in obscurity until shooting to prominence with their number-one single in the United States, " Light My Fire", taken from their self-titled debut album. Morrison recorded a total of six studio albums with the Doors, all of which sold well and received critical acclaim. Morrison was well known for improvising spoken word poetry passages while the band played live. Manzarek said Morrison "embodied hippie counterculture rebellion". ( Full article...)
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