Young guys growing their hair long in the mid ’60s required some brass because of fierce resistance from various authority figures, but there were two separate arenas in which long hair began to advance and dig in among teens and early 20somethings — the cities and the campuses, where things manifested much more quickly starting in ’65 (but not ’64), and the middle-class suburbs, where it took a lot longer for anyone to walk around with super-long Blue Cheer or Grand Funk Railroad hair or a Bob Dylan Jewfro, say.
It started with modest little Beatle bangs in ’64 and ’65 with radical campus hard-asses growing their hair to Rubber Soul lengths by the fall of ’65. But things were relatively cautious and straight-laced in the pot-smoking ‘burbs.
Obviously longer hair caught on big-time in the cities and campuses in ’66, but even then it was rare to see a guy with Buffalo Bill hair on the Harvard or Yale or NYU campuses, and you didn’t really see long hair start to get fizzy and freaky among non-collegiate suburban youths until late ’66 or ’67. And you didn’t see serious Blonde on Blonde Dylan-fros and heavy-duty Geronimo hair with headbands until mid to late ’68 or ’69, even, in the ‘burbs of New Jersey and Connecticut.
A lot of middle-class kids who weren’t musicians or Timothy Leary disciples or radical-ass Harvard University geniuses looked like Dustin Hoffman in The Graduate (’67), for the most part. You didn’t even see sideburns among more or less straight-laced guys until ’69 or ’70. By 1969 or ’70 even corporate, three-piece-suit types were wearing what were called “executive chops.”
I’m bringing this up because David Chase‘s Not Fade Away, which screened today for New York Film Festival journos and got thumbs-up responses from at least two guys I know (Kris Tapley and Marshall Fine), appears to play it fast and loose with mid ’60s hair changes, to judge by the trailer.
I’ve asked around and the film, about a young New Jersey rock band going through various convulsions and challenges and changes, takes place over a period of three and a half years — from late 1963 (“[it] begins in the immediate aftermath of the JFK assassination,” according to Indiewire‘s Eric Kohn) and ends (or “dovetails,” as Kohn puts it) sometime during the 1967 Summer of Love. Much of the film, to go by press materials, take place in ’64. and long hair just wasn’t evident back then. It really wasn’t evident in ’65, as I’ve said. The big flowering was in ’66 and ’67.
I’ll have to see the film, of course, to make a final judgment about accuracy, but it looks as if Chase has re-imagined the mid ’60s. To go by the trailer, the hair that started to happen in ’66 and ’67 and which really took hold in ’68 and ’69 happens in the ‘burbs in ’64, ’65 and ’66.
I hope I haven’t been too technical here, but hair evolution from ’64 to ’69 was a very specific, stage-by-stage thing. It roughly paralled the long-hair styles of the Beatles themselves — just look at their stylings in ’64, ’65, ’66, ’67, ’68 and ’69. It’s all there.