We might think of the sixties as a time of peace and friendly coexistence, and it was. But it was also a time of rebelliousness and, let’s be honest, excesses. It was the perfect time for young musicians to create innovative music and fulfill their dreams of stardom. I’m not saying that they weren’t great, but somehow at this time the industry wasn’t as challenging as it seems right now. Therefore, many of the music propositions and projects that emerged during this decade became instant icons of contemporary music. All of them represented the future of humanity compared to the previous generation, which was still extremely conservative and afraid of the future. However, this doesn’t mean that the music industry was full of peaceful stories. In fact, violence was still part of education and in that way, it was transposed into social life. Just take a look at these three stories lived by some of the most important icons of the decade:
David Bowie’s mysterious eye
This is the story of a pair of teenagers fighting for the love of a girl, a story that ended up creating the unique style of one of the greatest icons in music. The two 15-year-old best friends, George and David, had a crush on the same girl, but only George dared to ask her out. The day of the date, George was extremely nervous but also very excited. Just when he was ready to leave his house he received a phone call from his friend David apologizing on the girl’s behalf for not being able to attend the date. George was devastated but understood the situation. However, little did he know that it was actually all part of David’s scheme to win the girl for himself.
Days later he found out the truth and decided to make his so-called friend pay for his betrayal. He approached him at school and with his fist closed punched him right on the eye. Without noticing, his nail scratched David’s eyeball sending him directly to the hospital, where he had to be operated twice. Despite the doctor’s’ efforts, the blow had been so strong that it provoked a sight condition called Anisocoria, or permanently dilated pupil.
Despite the big fight and the scary medical intervention, George Underwood and David Bowie solved their issues and remained best friends until the latter’s death. Both artists constantly inspired the other with their own craft. It was a friendship based on mutual admiration and respect and that little incident only strengthen their relationship. George Underwood became a successful artist after he abandoned his career in music (they actually were in a band together for some years). He made the artwork of some of Bowie’s albums, but his masterpiece without a doubt was David’s iconic and unique dilated eye, something Bowie actually thanked him once.
John Lennon and the DJ incident
Lennon might be seen as the best advocator for peace, especially during the seventies, when he became a spokesperson against the Vietnam War. We all know his famous “war is over” slogan, his bed protest, and his amazing songs like “Imagine” or “Give Peace a Chance.” But he was not Mahatma Gandhi… well, it’s even said that he wasn’t that pious. The point here is that in his youth he was a troublemaker and wouldn’t hesitate to get involved in a fight if someone offended him, which was basically what happened and what could’ve ended The Beatles forever if the story had slightly gotten into a different direction.
It all happened in 1963 when The Beatles had already become famous figures in the British music scene, but still they weren’t the massive icons they came to be. By the time they were already working with Brian Epstein, who would be their manager until he died of an overdose, but that’s another story. It was a well-known secret that Epstein was gay and even when it was still considered a crime in Britain, he was kind of open about it. There was a rumor of Epstein having made advances on each of the Fab Four, being Paul his favorite Beatle. In April of that year, John and Brian decided to go on a trip to Spain (leaving his then-wife Cynthia when she had just given birth to his son), so the rumors gain strength.
It was in June, at Paul’s 21st birthday party when things got nasty. Bob Wooler was a DJ that was very close to the band. He had actually worked at The Cavern when they began their career. On that night John had had a couple of extra drinks, so when Wooler jokingly asked him what had happened on that trip to Spain, John lost it and started punching him. John stated that something inside him made him stop; otherwise, he might have killed him. Wooler was taken to the hospital by Epstein himself, who asked John to send him an apology, which he refused. However, Epstein sent one on his behalf plus a check for £200 to settle things. The musician later said that it had been the last quarrel he had been involved, since he saw himself quite close to actually murdering someone. Do you imagine what would have happened if he had done so?
Brian Wilson lead pipe blow
The Beach Boys are one of those bands that will remain in the collective imagination forever. Not only did they create some of the most iconic songs ever written, but they also revolutionized the music and managed to survive the overwhelming and inevitable invasion of British bands. But the story we’re going to talk about today is a story of fear and resilience that appears in Brian Wilson’s autobiography published in 2016, where he narrates all the important moments in his life, or at least those who made an impact on him.
One day while he was playing outside his house, a kid named Seymour just approached him and hit him with a lead pipe directly on the head. The uncertainty and shock he felt weresuch that he didn’t notice he couldn’t hear from his right ear until the next day. When he told his mother, who automatically took him to the doctor, and he told them that the blow had affected one of the nerves that connect the ear to the brain, leaving him basically deaf. He lost 95 to 98 percent of his hearing in that ear.
This affected him for the rest of his life. He even forced his posture so that he could listen to people when they talked to him. Wilson explains how he felt depressed for years until he decided to make the most of the situation and was determined not to waste his life on self-pity. He turned all his attention to music, even taking it with humor by saying that it’s an advantage because he creates already in mono sound. Anyway, this event didn’t altered his passion for music, but helped him create unique songs we’ll always listen to.
The stories behind the most relevant songs and musicians show us the other side of the coin. And frankly, they add an interesting depth to the music itself. If you want to know more of these stories, we recommend these:
The Day George Harrison Paid 4 Million Just To See A Blasphemous Movie
The Greatest 80s Song Inspired By An Overdose And A Rockstar Left For Dead In The Trash
The Story Behind Punk Rock’s Most Famous Album Cover