When I first began kicking around the idea of writing a book about the events of 1963, the only sure thing that came to mind was the assassination of JFK. But the more I examined what happened that year, the more it struck me, 1963 was a pivotal year in modern history. It was the year that launched the sixties. It marked the end of our national innocence. It began a new era in the Civil Rights movement. The FAB 4 forever changed our perceptions of music, reality, and inner consciousness.
If you were alive in 1963, you're likely to remember three stand out events. The assassination of JFK, the beginnings of Beatlemania, and a rebirth of the Civil Rights Movement.
When JFK was assassinated, it was like the magic candle that lit up the nation was forever blown out. It opened our eyes to the evil around us. In those few short moments at Dealy Square, a lone gunman stole our innocence.
Martin Luther King, Jr. polarized a generation of black activists like no one else could. His "I have a dream" speech, delivered at the March on Washington for Freedom and Jobs catapulted him into the national limelight. He went from being a "black" leader, to being an "American" leader. The next day, JFK praised King's speech and the movement. The FBI had a different take on King. They designated him the most dangerous "nigger" in America. Attorney general Bobby Kennedy, authorized a series of wiretaps on King that would stay in effect until after his assassination.
Music brought the Civil Rights movement home to the youth of America. Bob Dylan, Joan Baez, Peter, Paul, and Mary, and a host of other musicians provided the background music to the March on Washington.
More than anyone else in the sixties, the Beatles changed everything. They brought a generation of youth together.
Several years after their arrival in America, John Lennon would proclaim the Beatles were "more popular than Jesus." That line caused him a shitload of bad publicity, but he was definitely on to something.
Kids around the world had had enough of the stodgy 1950s. They were tired of adults, politics, war, and parents telling them what to think, how to dress, and how to act.
Bob Dylan, Peter, Paul, and Mary, and other folk singers sang about political injustice and the coming revolution. The number one album in the country that year, The Free Wheelin’ Bob Dylan, contained no fewer than six protest tunes.