Beatles-to-Bowie show delights in '60s Britain

Mon Oct 26, 2009 5:11am EDT
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By Paul Casciato

LONDON (Reuters Life!) - A new show at Britain's National Portrait Gallery in London captures swinging 1960s Britain in photographs from bopping to the Beatles at the Cavern to the psychedelic explosion that ushered in the 1970s.

The display of 150 photographs, collections of album sleeves, music magazine covers, sheet music and other items celebrate the rise of British pop and rock music giants such as the Beatles, Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin and Pink Floyd alongside U.S. contemporaries including Jimi Hendrix and Bob Dylan.

The portraits by acclaimed photographers David Bailey, Cecil Beaton, Don McCullin and a host of others are organized into decades from the sweet innocence of youth early in the decade to the decadent, drug-fueled psychedelia and sexual liberation which characterized the summer of love in 1968 and beyond.

The early years of the exhibition focus heavily on the Beatles, Rolling Stones and homegrown acts lesser known abroad including Cilla Black and Cliff Richard, although Rod Stewart appears alongside Long John Baldry in a 1964 portrait of a group called Steampacket.

"We just wanted to reflect really who were the big stars in each year," exhibition curator Terence Pepper told Reuters on Friday.

But Pepper -- who at 60 recalls the era and the music well -- said the show also depicts how quickly the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, David Bowie, Pink Floyd and Led Zeppelin changed the musical landscape and conquered the world.

"It was all completely new. It was all happening. Pop music isn't even on the radio yet," Pepper said.

"The BBC has got three hours on the air they can play records and hardly any of them what you can call rock and roll or pop."   Continued...