How Music Channeled into the Subcultures in the 1960's


Echoing from Liverpool to London, the 1960’s was filled with the post-war children that were looking for something different to their parents. Filled with angst and the need to belong the post-war children looked for that one thing that would change their lives from the house-wives of the 40’s that their mothers were, and the hard-workers that their fathers were. Then it hit them, music.

Young men and women of the Sixties were the first group of adolescents that went out to earn their own disposable wage. With this disposable wage the easily-influenced Modernists (Mods) could spend it on something that made them stand out from the rest - music and fashion. 

Modernists took their influences from the music shipped in from America, they were likely to get their tracks from the sweaty underground clubs in Liverpool and London. The likes of these cities due to their shipping ports and the American Navy bringing in the newly-pressed records. 

Previous experiences of this would be from the Rocker subculture. The 50’s were an influence to the subculture - the distinctive slick quiff hair that slithered from the state of Memphis from the King himself, Elvis Presley. Equally it wasn’t just Elvis that influenced the Rockers, distinctively it wasn’t music that was the main influencer of the subculture. But often it was the modelling of themselves on the likes of James Dean and movie stars that just had that “look”, the look that stated that they didn’t care. 

American Rhythm and Blues artists alike: Bo Diddley and Muddy Waters were what brought the Modernists their sense of escapism. It was the music that was taking them far away from where they were themselves. Smooth sophisticated modern jazz music embedded itself in the first wave of the Modernist, with the likes of, Miles Davis, Dave Brubeck and Charlie Parker making it to the soundtrack of a young Mods playlist. These beat bands of the day were then taken on and re-interpreted with soul grooves, creating the beat group sound of the mid-60’s.  

The first sweat and amphetamine-driven clubs beckoned the music that would slowly influence the subculture. The likes of The Flamingo and The Marquee in London, and The Twisted Wheel Club in Manchester would throw the new American Blues on the turntables for the subculture to hear. 

Later into the decade, around 1964, bands such as; The Small Faces and The Who (who, later directed coming-of-age movie Quadrophenia in the 70’s formatting around Jimmy, a young Mod trying to find his way in life) took on the rock-mecca of London. The spiteful riffs and soulful drum-beat made it perfect to dance the night away, not only was it the music of the band that gave so much influence to the subculture - but the fashion of the bands pressed onto the Mods. 

No adolescent reminiscing comes without angst. Within the subcultures were anxieties and hormonal disposition - the mods and the rockers were everything that each other designated was wrong with society. The slick hair of the rockers beckoned anxiety with the clean-cut feather cuts of the Mods; additionally the lean-cut tailored suits that the disposable wage was spent, was everything other than a scarped leather jacket that looked like James Dean. 

Liverpool can easily take the front with musical experience of the 60’s. Synonymous with the sixties comes along The Beatles - at the forefront of the Modernist subculture claimed through music. 

Music was a way of escapism for the subcultures, it was a way to push themselves out of the bland and into something new and refreshing. Music continually became something that not only divided the generation, but brought them together. The 60’s not only brought about a revolution of society, but a revolution of the masses of music. People were ready to begin to accept a new genre and a new beat, this was the beginning of the uprising. 

Subcultures however, will never be as large as they were in the Sixties. Slowly throughout the 70’s and late 90’s the Mod Revival beckoned with the revival bands of Oasis, Blur, Ocean Colour Scene and The Verve - the attitude and fashion of the bands brought back the love of music and a sense of belonging for many. 

However subcultures may have died out and become something that we long for, music continues to be the pressing movement towards change in society. Subconsciously artists and bands divide the attention of prolonging subcultures, but will we ever be like the 60’s again? 

The dying out of subcultures from the Sixties is cruel and unfortunate. It seems that it is harder to define yourself and stand out from the crowd, as so many people just want to fit in. Potentially it is because of the excessive change in society - many young adolescents don’t go out to clubs and enjoy the music, instead they stand on their phones documenting where they have been and who with, rather than loosing themselves in the music. 

There isn’t that buzz about what is new in the music industry anymore, you don’t necessarily have to wait a month before the album has been released because it will be leaked online. This music revolution has been killed by the evolution of technology.