Style Morphing from the 60s to 70s

How did we get from bubblegum pop in the early sixties to the intense rock of the late sixties and seventies? That’s a good question. There is so much historical background to these changes that not even a Ph.D. thesis could cover everything.

That being the case, I think two bands were particularly important in representing the divide between the early sixties and the revolutionary years that followed. We’ll use them as case studies to see how they changed their sounds and looks. Fashion and music and inevitably entwined, reflecting society’s state of mind. In this case, all sorts of funky, fun, rebellious looks emerged.

First up, one you all know, and (hopefully…) love: The Beatles. This is probably the most obvious example of a band that bridged the gap between early and late sixties. They were was around long enough to really make significant changes in their style and truly were an influence on bands forming in the early seventies. “We Can Work it Out” is a prime example of their earlier music, which was typically lighter. “Come Together” is symbolic of their shift to an edgier tone.

 Early 60s: Nice suits & with very similar, clean cut hairstyles

 Later 60s: Grown-out hair, facial and head

The two photos show them in 1963 versus 1969. After only six years, their public image changed alongside their music. This kind of transformation would be considered standard at the time.

The second example of this phenomenon are The Osmonds. While they’re arguably not the most famous for their musical taste or innovation, I’d consider them one of my guilty pleasures.
Many of their early appearances were on the Andy Williams Show performing covers circa 1966. Over time, they considerably changed their sound to the more energetic and rock-centric like you hear in “Crazy Horses.”

 In the first photo they, again, wore very similar, clean-cut hairstyles. (I’m loving the matching sweaters.) In their early performances, they would often wear suits.

 The second picture hardly needs any explanation. Long hair, bell bottoms, and lots of leather.

But these changes aren’t limited to these two bands.

Check out The Beach Boys in the 1960s vs The Beach Boys in 1970s. You’ll see the same thing happening with individual artists like Eric Clapton, Stevie Wonder, and Harry Nilsson. Go down the Google Images rabbithole and have fun watching the styles evolve!

-China Dennington


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