The “hippie period” was at its most popular from 1967 as the summer of love began with numerous rock festivals being arranged around the San Francisco area. The hippies were anti-war and USA‘s activities in Vietnam and Korea, added to the race tensions in the States, added momentum to the movement. The rock concerts gave musicians the opportunity to showcase their music plus voice their political concerns in the festival arena. As a result, many bands careers were launched during these events, where “free love” was shared and the drugs were freely available to those who wanted them.
The Woodstock Festival in 1969 is where it all peaked and from this date the influence of the hippie movement started to decline. However, as 1970 arrived there were acts such as Jimi Hendrix, The Who, Bob Dylan and Janis Joplin whose reputations had been enhanced by playing at various festivals around the World. A lot of the bands were playing psychedelic music which broadly speaking was a music genre that was influenced by drugs. As the 1970s started glam rock appeared which had many similarities with psychedelic music.
Glam Rock was played by bands who dressed up in very brash outfits. They would often wear platform shoes, wear make-up and their appearance were totally the opposite from the rock bands of the late 1960s. One of the biggest glam rock artists was Marc Bolan, who appeared on Top of the Pops in March 1971 with his band T. Rex wearing glitter and satins to perform his hit single “Hot Love”. The bands 1971 album “Electric Warrior” was seen as glam rock’s pioneering album and although Bolan was not on the music scene for much longer his contribution was huge. There were other bands and artists who soon emerged following T. Rex’s 1971 appearance. David Bowie created Ziggy Stardust and he fitted in easily into the glam rock genre. He often wore make-up, he had contrasting coloured eyes and he would wear colourful and glittery outfits.
As glam rock made its presence in the music scene it all also had a huge impact on the fashion industry. Fashion outlets produced numerous copies of the clothes that these artists were wearing as the demand from the nation’s youth exploded. Although the initial impact was in the UK, with more bands emerging like Roxy Music, Sweet and Slade, it wasn’t long before the American music industry started to be influenced by it. Kiss, Bon Jovi and the New York Dolls were all American acts that emerged originally as glam rock bands.
The success of glam rock reached its height with the emergence of the British group Queen. Although the majority of the band members would dress conservatively the group was led by the effervescent Freddie Mercury. His extraordinary presence matched by his outrageous outfits, pushed the band into glam rock status. Many aspects of glam rock, especially the dress and fashion were taken and used by other musical genres particularly punk rock. It was then rather ironic that the rise of the punk rock movement in the late 1970s contributed greatly to the fall in popularity of the glam rock scene. Many of the groups and artists continued to grow but the term glam rock was used less and less.