Perhaps one of the things fans of the Beatles are most curious about regarding their past is whether or not they can really be classified as a true ‘hippie’ or not. So what’s the truth? Were the Beatles hippies at any point in their career?
Indeed, the Beatles were not only hippies for a period of time but were one of the main icons of hippie culture in the United States during the 1960s and 1970s. Let’s take a look at what the word hippie really stands for, and what The Beatles did to make themselves hippies throughout their career.
John in particular is very well known for his outspoken political views against war along with Yoko Ono and their many media antics that brought attention to the millions of people supporting their cause in support of peace and love.
They were not the only famous people to protest against war by any stretch of the imagination but history does particularly remember that John and Yoko were spokespeople for the movement.
It is worth pointing out that people who considered themselves hippies did, generally, not get involved with politics and being outspoken about their political views. To do so would actually render you a “Yippie” which is short for Youth International Party.
What is a Hippie?
This term is used to describe a group of people from the 1960s and 1970s that participated in counter-culture, mostly based in the United States. The movement started as a protest against various social issues posed by the United States government, including war, racial injustice, capitalism, and more.
Hippies are associated with a love of peace, recreational drugs like marijuana and LSD, and long hair with unconventional clothing.
By and large, the hippies were an extremely peaceful group of people that promoted love and change- a message that many may argue The Beatles worked hard to further. Let’s take a look at how The Beatles not only fit into the hippie movement but helped lead it.
Hippie is also spelled on as hippy and is derived from the word “hip” which is a reference to “the Beats” of the 1950s such as Allen Ginsberg and Jack Kerouac who were thought to have influenced the general consensus of what a hippie ought to be.
The Beatles as Hippies
Many fans believe that the start of The Beatles’ reputation as hippies coincides with the start of their use of taking drugs like LSD in the late 1960s. They have admitted to the effect these types of drugs had on their music.
It is also thought that due to their age and the age group of their fans in addition to the circles they mixed in that they were influenced in more ways than one when it came to discovering the hipped culture and whether they did so consciously or not their interest in the hippie movement certainly influenced further growth through exposure of the message to their millions of fans worldwide.
The Beatles were aware of their influence and used their music to spread hippie messages like love and freedom, which is why they’re credited with helping push the movement forward. Some examples of this are in “All You Need is Love,” “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds,” and “While My Guitar Gently Weeps.”
John Lennon in particular participated in a lot of social activism with his partner Yoko Ono, a visual artist from Japan. Together, they posed in naked photos meant to spread the “free sex” hippie principal and fought with the anti-war movement to end US involvement in the Vietnam War. His song ‘Imagine’ is an anthem to the hippie movement, and is still used at social protests today.
Not only that, but The Beatles actually started to outwardly appear more hippie as time went on. By the late 1970s, the hair and fashion of The Beatles had changed so much they nearly resembled The Bee-Gees in appearance- shortly before they fully broke-up as a cohesive group in 1970.
Even today, Paul and Ringo are still big advocates of love and peace, Paul in particular promoting veganism with Ringo being well known for his “love and peace” V sign with his fingers in the peace sign.
Not only were The Beatles hippies themselves, they were also true icons of the entire hippie movement in the United States from the 1960s to the 1970s. They used their music to promote messages of love, peace, and freedom and were pioneers in delivering these sentiments to the public. Much of The Beatles’ legacy does and always will lie in their associations with hippie culture in the United States even though George once called the Californian movement “dumb”.
People also ask:
Did the Beatles use psychedelics?
By their own admission yes they did and this found its way into their music. We have written a full article about “did the Beatles do drugs?” which you can read by clicking this link.
Who started the hippie movement?
Even though the Beatles were hippie icons they were in fact a sign of the times but their superstar status put them in front of millions of people which led to many thinking that the Beatles started the movement. This is likely not true though and the hippie movement originated on college campuses in the United States before spreading throughout the world.
Were any of the Beatles considered not to be a hippie?
Its likely that the Beatles themselve were looking for meaning in life and found it in slightly different, although overlapping, ways.
The introduction of meditation and alternative ways of looking at the world certainly had its effect upon them, more so with George who would pursue a Hari Krishna lifestyle for the rest of the time, he was on this earth.
But using love for people and the desire for peace can be seen, felt and heard in most aspects of the music and messages portrayed by John, George and Paul from the late 60s to the current day.
So really, it depends upon how you describe a hippy / hippie because in truth it really is just a description and ever hippie is still their own person with their own views.
Generations later the meaning has again changed and the ignorance of later generations would use the hippy or hippie as a derogatory term used against anyone with long hair and has been bent beyond its original meaning.
Hippies still exist and it may even be considered cool to count yourself as one but the people who do this likely are of a certain age and generation as people move on and the meaning has, to an extent, been lost but not forgotten.