Boomers Born in 1961 Reach Age 60 This Year

Boomers born in the year 1961 will reach their 60th birthday this year. Time flies when you’re having fun! All boomers know that life is profoundly different today in many ways than it was in 1961. Here are some stats that present a picture of what our lives were like 60 years ago:

John Fitzgerald Kennedy was inaugurated as President of the United States, succeeding President Dwight D. Eisenhower
• There were about 184 million people in the U.S.; the population jumped by 28 million in ten years (thanks to the Baby Boomers!)
• To continue the Baby Boom, 1.5 million couples were married in 1961; the average age of a bride was 19-20 yrs. old, and the groom was 21-22 yrs. old.
The average annual income was $5,700
$1 in 1961 is approximately equal to $8.80 today
• The cost of a dozen eggs was 57¢
Milk was 50¢ for a half gallon
Ground beef was 52¢ lb.
It cost 41¢ lb. to buy a frying chicken
• If you wanted to mail a letter, a stamp cost 4¢
• Born in 1961? You share a birth year with Eddie Murphy (April 3) and George Clooney (May 6)
Alan Shepard became the first American in Space (May 5)

President Kennedy announced the goal of landing a man on the moon and bringing him home by the end of the decade (May 25)
The Apartment won the Best Picture Academy Award
The Bullwinkle Show debuted
Tossin’ and Turnin’ by Bobby Lewis was the number 1 hit single of 1961
Disney released 101 Dalmations in theaters
• IBM introduced the Selectric typewriter

The Berlin Wall was constructed, further escalating the Cold War
Sprite was introduced by Coca-Cola to compete with 7-Up
Ray Kroc bought a small chain of hamburger restaurants from the McDonald brothers
President Kennedy sent in the first advisors into Vietnam
Marvel introduced The Fantastic Four comics
Roger Marris broke Babe Ruth’s record and hit 61 home runs for the New York Yankees

If you were born in 1961, of course you learned about these things later in life. Yet more than half the Boomer Generation was born before 1961, and they have vivid memories of the year. Mister Boomer was in elementary school and remembers many things about 1961, including watching the inauguration of President Kennedy. The school he attended was big on observing American history-in-the-making, and wanted the students to follow the Space Program, beginning with Alan Shepard’s launch on May 5. A TV was rolled into the classroom for subsequent launches of Project Mercury and on to Project Gemini.

Mister B and his family were also big fans of Rocky & Bullwinkle, including the 1961 iteration of The Bullwinkle Show. Of course, he was not able to view the show in color. It was the mid-1970s before the family got a hand-me-down color television.

If you’ve been reading Mister Boomer for even a short time, then you know he definitely remembers hearing some top hits of 1961 on his transistor radio. Out of that tiny speaker, he heard Tossin’ and Turnin’, but also, I Fall to Pieces by Patsy Cline; Runaway by Del Shannon; Dedicated to the One I Love by the Shirelles; Take Good Care of My Baby by Bobby Vee; Travelin’ Man by Ricky Nelson, and many, many more.

Yet, in retrospect, what a good portion of boomers recall about 1961 is that there was a palpable change in the wind. Life as we had come to know it was about to be turned upside down. By the time the earliest-born boomers reached the age of 18 in 1964 — which was the final year of the Baby Boom — music, fashion, world events, Civil Rights, the Space Program, the Cold War, even what we ate, was about to change forever.

Were you born in 1961, boomers? If not, what do you recall about that momentous year?

Boomers Liked the Psychedelic Music of 1967

Every now and then Mister Boomer is asked why he doesn’t post his favorite top 10 lists more often, such as: Top 10 Inventions of the Boomer Years; Top 10 Fashion Trends: Top 10 Colors of the 1950s; and of course, Top 10 Music Lists. His answer, especially when it comes to music, is how could you stop at just a Top 10? Music was so varied lyrically as well as musically, even within each year of the boomer era, let alone across the span of 30 years. Nonetheless, favorite of-the-moments arise for all of us. In Mister B’s case, he has a hankering to hear certain things in a sort-of-cycle. One week he may really want to delve into Del Shannon and Buddy Holly tunes. Another, it may be anything that features vocals by Grace Slick or Aretha Franklin. Still another, it’s all about soul and R & B. Currently, psychedelic music has taken a priority on his playlists, and in particular, the psychedelic music of 1967.

Like all musical genres, psychedelic characteristics edged their way into the various sub-genres of rock & roll, from folk to pop, rock to acid. Most historians agree songs with psychedelic characteristics began appearing somewhere around 1965. This coincided with the spread of mind-altering substances, particularly LSD, known as Acid, and Psilocybin, otherwise referred to as Magic Mushrooms. Psychedelic music was said to have been influenced by these drug trips, or best appreciated under the influence of such hallucinogenics. The music often contained dreamy, surreal and sometimes literary-based lyrics. The musicality of psychedelic music was often played with the addition of non-traditional rock instruments, such as the sitar and tabla, with changing time signatures that could encompass extended instrumental portions within the song. Electric keyboards also played an increasingly important role in the melody.

In 1964, Ken Kesey set out in a bus with a group of followers named The Merry Pranksters to experiment and promote the mind-altering — some said mind-expanding — properties of LSD. The group would host Acid Test parties that included music. Kesey’s favorite band at the time was The Warlocks, later known as The Grateful Dead. Hippies embraced the Native American cultural links to various forms of hallucinogenic “trips,” and combined it with a growing appreciation for Eastern Spirituality, to influence rock music in the U.S. and United Kingdom.

Dr. Timothy Leary, a psychology professor at Harvard, conducted experiments with LSD and other hallucinogens as early as 1962. The University — and the CIA, who reportedly kept a governmental eye on him — did not approve of his work, and in 1963, Harvard dismissed him. In 1967, Leary told a mostly Hippie crowd at a San Francisco Human Be-In to “Turn on, tune in, drop out.” It was a new slogan for a new generation still discovering its way. Music that day was provided by the Grateful Dead, the Jefferson Airplane, Moby Grape and Big Brother and the Holding Company.

Mister Boomer has mentioned previously that he did not partake of the drug culture of the boomer years. Nonetheless, he really dug a song with a great electric organ hook and wailing guitar. That brings us to 1967, an unbelievably creative and prolific year in the world of rock music, which included psychedelic rock music. Here are some key psychedelic releases from that year (in no particular order). Many are now considered classics, and synonymous with the genre:

• The Beatles recorded both the Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band and Magical Mystery Tour albums, the most psychedelic and experimental of their records (which included A Day in the Life and Strawberry Fields Forever)
• Jimi Hendrix released Are You Experienced? in the U.S., (which gave us Foxy Lady and Purple Haze)
Time Has Come Today by the Chambers Brothers
Light My Fire by the Doors
I Can See for Miles by The Who
Incense and Peppermints by Strawberry Alarm Clock

Can’t Seem to Make You Mine by the Seeds
Hey Grandma by Moby Grape
Mellow Yellow by Donovan
Somebody to Love by Jefferson Airplane
• I Had Too Much to Dream (Last Night) by the Electric Prunes
I’ll Be Your Mirror by The Velvet Underground
A Whiter Shade of Pale by Procul Harum
(We Ain’t Got Nothing) Yet by the Blues Magoos
She’s A Rainbow by The Rolling Stones
When I Was Young by Eric Burdon and the Animals
Flight from Ashiya by Kaleidoscope
Nights In White Satin by the Moody Blues
See Emily Play by Pink Floyd
Strange Brew by Cream

See the quandary? Of course, there was a slew of other top hits in 1967 that were not of this genre. Even still, how can anyone slight psychedelic music from 1966, like Norwegian Wood by the Beatles or Psychotic Reaction by Count Five; or A Question of Temperature by Balloon Farm and Nature’s Way by Spirit in 1968?

At the right time, it’s all good, boomers. So, make your Top 10 lists if you want. Mister B is content to listen to all of it, whenever he wants. Isn’t that what the freedom of on-demand music brings us? How about you, boomers? What 1967 psychedelic hits are drifting through your head these days?