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The VW T2 Hippie Van

Welcome to the Campervan Channel, the YouTube channel for advice, information, and inspiration for everyone who loves VW campers. This video introduces the biggest selling VW Transporter of them all, the second generation or T2.

This version of the VW Bus was in production in some form, somewhere, for an incredible 46 years. We have other videos with advice on buying them and what they are really like to live with, but for now, I hope you enjoy a bit of backgrounder on the world-beating Bay window. The first generation of Transporter, the T1 Splitty, had been a ground-breaker when it was launched in 1950.

VW went on to sell 1.8 million of them and unexpectedly create a motoring icon. No pressure there then! When the second generation appeared for the model year 1968, some familiar features were still there. The forward-control driving position above the front wheels, a huge cargo space between the axles, and an air-cooled engine in the back powering the rear wheels.

. But the T2 looked different. The distinctive V-shaped front and the split windscreen of the T1 had morphed into a wraparound, panoramic single windscreen, a huge piece of curved glass that gave the new model its nickname, the Bay Window. The Transporter now had a sliding side door as standard. The electrics were 12 volts rather than 6.

And while its flat-four, air-cooled engine was familiar, it was built a little lower, allowing even more cargo space above the engine compartment. Overall the T2 was about 160mm tat is about 6 and a half inches longer than its predecessor, increasing the cargo space inside to about five cubic meters.

Less visible improvements were to do with safety, mainly to appease the Americans who had come up with a radical idea that the occupants of a vehicle should actually survive if it crashed. So, cue front disc brakes, lap belts, shoulder belts, a much safer steering column, and a firewall between the fuel tank and the engine.

Now there is a good idea! And eventually new structures to the front end to improve crash protection. The T2 was obviously part of the Volkswagen family of trucks, but early marketing stressed more to it than your average commercial vehicle. In original Ads, VW proudly claimed, “We’ve put a little beauty into the box.”

And it was “The car that comes in a box.” The car you could squeeze into a parking spot that would be too small for your station wagon. Well, a ginormous American station wagon, at least. The T2 proved even more popular with campervan converters than the splitty had been. One thing got on their wick, though.

The spare wheel. On many versions, it stuck straight up. A right pain in the load space if you wanted to put a bed in the back. Solutions including covering it with a bit psychedelic seventies fabric or building a wooden cabinet over it. Basically, pretending it was not there. But by far, the coolest solution was to pull your spare wheel out of the back and stick it on the front between the headlights.

A spare wheel up front became part of the look for Bay window campers. As with all generations of VW transporter, the T2 went through a ton of tweaks and improvements. Life is too short of mentioning them all, but there were so many between 1971 and 1973. They are the kind of watershed years between two distinct periods.

Bays before then are often called early bays or a T2a. After that, they are Late Bays or T2B. And because I know you want one, here is a spotters guide to telling them apart. An easy clue first. On early Bays, front indicators were down near the bumper, giving them another nickname, “low lights.”

On the late bays, the flashers are high up next to the fresh air intake. Earlies had rounded, wrap-around “blade” type bumpers, incorporating a step to help you get into the cab. Late bays had larger, squared-off “Europa” bumpers that did not wrap around. A structure behind them helped improve crash protection, and the step was now built into the wing.

From the rear, early bays give themselves away by having small, oval-shaped lights. Late bays have much bigger, taller light clusters. So now we can tell them apart. Well, maybe not. Because VW did not decide, right, today we are going to introduce all these new features. No, they did it gradually. So in 1972, you could buy a Bay with basically a new back end and old front end.

Vans built in this kind of T2 Twilight zone are now known as the “Crossover” Bays. So now you know. In 1973, the world was plunged into its first oil crisis. Fuel was in short supply and very expensive. So VW experimented with alternative fuels for the Bay window. Natural gas was dropped before the prototype stage, but electric power showed promise.

In 1972, VW revealed an all-electric T2. Its 44 horsepower Siemens motor took power from an underfloor battery. And what a battery! Each one weighed 850kg. That is more than the VW Beetles being built at the time. It took ten hours to charge and gave the Electric Bay a range of about 43 miles and a top speed of about 43 miles an hour.

Technically, It worked, and concepts like electric taxi versions gained a lot of attention even on live TV. There is conflicting evidence about how many of these were built. But it’s thought to be no more than 200. And many of those were test vehicles. One report said only 20 e-campers were sold.

This amazing innovation was just ahead of its time. It’s only now, 47 years later, that all-electric VW Transporters are on sale again. In the mid-70s, the Bay was also used as a testbed for another leap in-vehicle technology, four-wheel drive. Just a few hand-built all-wheel-drive Transporters were built at Wolfsburg.

Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles have these great archive pictures of these all-wheel-drive beasts being tested. Someone in the VW Research and Development Department had been a keen off-roader and added a four-wheel-drive system to their own T2 campervan. Technically- they were a success. But VW was not convinced there was a market for them.

It was not until the mid-80s that all-wheel-drive finally became an option on the Bay successor, the T3. But let us not leap to successors just yet. The T2 Bay was a truly global phenomenon. They were sold and built around the world. They were sent to at least 15 countries in knock-down kit form. A box full of T2 parts that were assembled in a factory, avoiding high import taxes that would have been charged on a complete vehicle.

In 1971, four years after its launch in Germany, the Bay was built at VW’s plant in Mexico. From 1975, they were built in Brazil too, but these were a bit different. From the front and back, they looked like 1970s Bays. But the side walls were from the old T1 splitty, with smaller windows, air intakes above the rear wheels, and hinged doors from the 1950s.

The result, total confusion about what you are looking at. Sales of Bays boomed worldwide, and much of their popularity and high profile was due to the Hippy Movement. It is just odd that a vehicle that started life as a really practical load carrier for hard-working German business folk became the transport of choice for the most laid-back characters on the planet.

It became known as the Hippy Van, a symbol of peace, love, freedom, rebellion. Production in Germany ended in 1979. But the T2 story was far from over. Brazil did not just keep building them. It developed them, introducing a diesel engine option, for instance. Bays kept rolling out of the Mexican plant, too, with even more radical options including, would you believe it, a water-cooled engine for 1988.

There are no mistaking water-cooled Bays. They have a distinctive. Some would say hideous. Black radiator grille slapped on the front. The Mexican factory shut up shop in 1994, and all T2 production moved to Brazil, where VW finally called time on the air-cooled engine. It is worth pausing for a bit of a tribute here! VW air-cooled engines had powered a staggering 27 million Volkswagens, that is, Beetles and a few other cars as well as the Transporters.

To mark this motoring milestone, VW produced 200 special edition T2s in exclusive sliver metallic paint jobs. Still, the water-cooled versions went on, with a good few finding their way to the UK. Bristol-based campervan converter Danbury imported Brazilian Bays and turned them into water-cooled campers.

Buyers got the look of a classic Bay but with a few more mod-cons than you’92d get in the vintage versions. There was the option of power steering from a Ford Fiesta no less, and of course, the reliability of the 1.4 liter water-cooled power unit derived from the VW Fox. The Bay kept going back in Brazil, with about 25,000 being produced a year until its death knell was sounded by the looming airbag and anti-lock brake legislation.

VW decided the 2013 model year was to be the last. Bear in mind, VW Germany is producing the T5 by this time. So, the old girl finally retired. To celebrate 46 years in production and around 3.9 million Bays sold. A final run of 600 Last Edition models was built in September 2013. These days, all versions of the Bay window remain hugely popular as campervans.

Not quite as expensive as splitties, but with all the character of a true VW classic. With a thriving club scene and good availability of parts and body panels, who knows, these iconic vans could splutter on for another 50 years. Don not forget, we are planning more videos on Bay windows and all other types of VW campervans.

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Psychedelia – The Bad Trip

In the previous chapter, we saw how some Hippies abandoned the idea that the revolution should be carried out in the realms of the mind, and went over to play in the political field. We saw also how this shift made them devolve into adopting Marxist thought, and from there into violence and terrorism.

It should however be reiterated that most of the people discussed in the previous chapter were not Hippies, and did not emerge from the spirit of rock’n’roll, even if they idolized the rock star and saw them as their role models. Most Hippies stayed true to the idea of revolution of the mind, and kept on seeking enlightenment through drugs, music and mysticism.

But here, too, things were devolving fast. The possibility that a trip could be bad has always been known. It featured in some early psychedelic records as well. In the Beatles track ‘She Said, She Said’, John Lennon tells us what happens when your preparation for the trip is bad. The inspiration came from a time when actor Peter Fonda came by to visit him.

Lennon just dropped acid, getting ready for a groovy trip, but Fonda just had to tell him about a near death experience he had during surgery. This was not what Lennon needed to hear as his mind was getting into the psychedelic twirl, and he told Peter to go to hell, but it was too late. The result was this record, which has an important insight about the nature of hallucinogenic drugs: while they can generate a joyful experience, making you feel like you are at the heart of your existence, so can they generate a terrifying experience, making you feel like you don’t exist at all, making you lose your sense of self.

And the more the sixties neared their end, the more the euphoric feeling of happy existence got replaced with the existential dread that Lennon expresses here. At the end of 1967, with the sunlight beams of the Summer of Love still dancing in the background, Lennon once again provided a different type of psychedelic experience.

In ‘I am the Walrus’, Lennon takes the stance of someone who knows best, and mocks all those who can’t understand him. We’ve met this attitude in Beatles records before, but here it is being deconstructed. At the same time that he mocks others, it seems that his own consciousness is falling apart, alternating wildly like a radio needle that is out of control, hearing voices, and once again imagining itself to be dead.

Instead of the confident man we met in ‘Rain’, here it feels like we are dealing with a schizophrenic. In the beginning of 68, the Beatles travelled to Rishikesh, in India, and stayed there for a month as guests of the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, who taught them his technique of transcendental meditation.

They also wrote many songs there, which ended up on the double white album that they released at the end of that year. Meditation, said Lennon at the time, is a way to get what the psychedelic drugs give you, while avoiding the dangers of the drugs. But Lennon was disappointed and disillusioned by what he experienced in Rishikesh, and some of the white album tracks give expression to this feeling.

‘The Continuing Story of Bungalow Bill’ is a satirical song about an American who was there with them, learning from the Maharishi, but in the middle he took a break to go hunting tigers in the jungle, and then came back to continue his studies of a philosophy that preaches non-violence towards any living being.

‘Dear Prudence’ was inspired by one of the women in the group, who suffered a panic attack after meditation, and it took them hours to persuade her to get out of her room. But Lennon reserved the most venomous song for the Maharishi himself, after he heard a rumor that he sexually assaulted the actress Mia Farrow, who was there with them.

Lennon wrote a song that incriminated the Maharishi and accused him of being a fraud, but to avoid legal issues he changed the lyrics, and made it a song about a movie starlet who fools the world into falling in love with her. Luckily so, because the rumor was probably false. But the track ‘Sexy Sadie’ preserves the feeling of bitter disillusionment, and can be heard as a representative of the late sixties spirit.

The white album, officially called simply ‘The Beatles’, also contains Lennon’s parting shot from psychedelia. ‘Glass Onion’ references some of the Beatles psychedelic era records, emphasizes the sense of confusion and detachment from reality expressed in them, and throws them all into a psychedelic cauldron to make something even more confusing.

In the previous records, the confusion was just a side-effect, and the prevailing feeling was that of self-confidence, but here Lennon reinterprets them, and asserts that it was all an illusion. Psychedelia didn’t make reality more transparent, but rather into a glass onion, something that looks clear and transparent, but is actually multilayered and curvilinear.

This is the only track on the album where you still hear the psychedelic sound. Most other tracks provided by Lennon convey a feeling of loneliness and depression. Following the descent from the peaks of the Summer of Love into the hate drenched reality of 1968, and after meditation did not live up to its promises, Lennon feels lost.

In this mental state, drugs were no longer the way to get from an ordinary existence to a joyful existence, but to escape a depressing experience into oblivion. For that, other drugs are more suitable, but also demand a higher price. By 1969, Lennon was addicted to heroin, like many others in the counter-culture.

Many lost their lives as a result, but Lennon managed to gather himself in time and kick the habit, doing it cold turkey. The hell that he went through in order to do it, a hell that many went through at the time, was immortalized in this record. Heroin is a drug for people who experience life as suffering and want to escape it.

It makes you forget all your worries and sorrows, neutralizes all urges and ambitions. This is not what the Hippies were after, and heroin was a drug that they ideologically rejected. But there was one rock band at the time which made heroin and other hard drugs part of its art, and gave us a window into this world.

The songs that Lou Reed wrote for the Velvet Underground were filled with characters that hated their existence and wanted out, and the band turned every song into a little theatre play that dramatized the escape. Some of these records were about drugs. “I have made a big decision”, announces the junky in this record, “I’m gonna try to nullify my life.

” The temptation to turn to nothing, to dissolve into the euphoria of the drug, is what we hear in this classic track. The Hippies were perturbed by the Velvet Underground’s music. At the basis of their way of life was a strong conviction in the power of the human soul, a confidence that the drugs will purify it only from what is unessential, and will leave the essential core.

The Velvet Underground’s music suggested that there is no pure core, that the only thing awaiting at the end of the road is complete self-annihilation, and enslavement to the drug. This is not what the Hippies wanted to hear, and since they were now the dominant force in the rock world, the Velvet Underground was marginalized, remaining underground for the next decade, but constantly undermining Hippie optimism.

But there were also many Hippies who lost themselves to hard drugs, either because they wanted to escape the harsh reality of the late sixties, or because they took the sex-drugs-rock’n’roll ideology too far. The belief that the dominant culture is evil and only wants to prevent us from having fun, along with the belief that drugs are the road to salvation, led many youngsters to the thought that the warnings about heroin are just a fabrication.

From there, the road to hell was open. That’s not to say that only heroin is bad, and only heroin had a destructive effect. The hallucinogenic drugs did a lot of damage as well. Let’s let the Pink Floyd tell us about it. The record ‘Astronomy Domine’ is another psychedelic space trip, under the guidance of our captain, Syd Barrett.

When the record starts we are already in the spaceship, travelling among the planets, and a voice over the communication system is informing us of our location. But rather than helping us, the voice only disorients us – actually, there are two voices here, each providing different information, and together they form an unintelligible mix.

When the singing begins, we encounter the familiar themes of floating and acquiring a different view of reality, but it sounds more scared than euphoric. Nevertheless, there is a sense of progress, as we are gradually getting further away from Earth, going through Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune, but then we retreat back to Titan, a Jupiter moon, and are frightened of the stars.

Then again, Oberon, Miranda and Titania, mentioned as the Uranus moons we pass by, are also Shakespearean characters, from two plays that exist between reality and fantasy. In both plays, there is a scene in which people fall under a spell, either from a potion or from beguiling music, which makes them not see reality as it is and leads them to unwelcomed results.

Smack in the middle of the Summer of Love, then, the Floyd already warn us that the psychedelic trip, which is supposed to show us the truth, might be just an illusion. The spaceship then goes into warp speed, growing increasingly out of control. The voice over the com system returns, once again spewing urgent but meaningless information.

When the singing resumes it sounds more like a series of onomatopoeic explosions, with words that express paranoia. Finally, the music slows down, and it seems like we are landing back in reality, but we are still trapped in the mental state we’ve put ourselves into, and who knows if we can ever escape it.

Barrett was the central figure of the British psychedelic scene, and did everything to be worthy of his crown. That meant that he remained switched on at all hours of the day, ingesting copious amounts of LSD pills. In chapter 7 we witnessed the switch he made from a stylish Mod into a disheveled Hippie, who cares only about what’s inside the mind.

But soon enough, the drugs ate his brain to an extent that there wasn’t much left inside. The handsome and talented young man became a total wreck, and his eyes, which always sparkled with an impish twinkle, became black holes in the sky, as Pink Floyd would sing years later. In the record ‘Vegetable Man’, Barrett comes full circle and once again sings about his external look, and he claims that his stinking rags are an expression of what’s left of his soul.

Actually, they are all that’s left of him. He became a soulless creature, a vegetable man. No less disturbing is this record, in which it sounds like Barrett’s personal hell is screaming in our ears in a variety of scary voices. These two amazing records were so perturbing that Pink Floyd decided not to release them, and they saw light only years later.

Barrett made a modest contribution to the band’s second album, but in the beginning of 1968 it was obvious that he was gone, and he was cut from the band. In the next few years his condition went from bad to worse, and he retreated into a shadow world. He tried to develop a solo career, and released several albums full of weird tracks, sung in a bent way that never remained faithful to any tempo.

Eventually he went back to his hometown and lived with his family as a welfare case. He never regained full sanity. While Barrett was sinking slowly, several other heroes of the psychedelic era fell in a more dramatic fashion. We’ve mentioned Brian Jones, the man who founded the Rolling Stones, and also the man who pulled it towards psychedelia, until his drug addiction got him kicked out of the band.

Jones tried to rehabilitate, but in July 69 he was found floating dead in his swimming pool, a death that remains shrouded in mystery to this day. A year later, three blows landed one after the other. In September of 1970, Jimi Hendrix took a large dose of sedatives, threw up in his sleep and choked to death on his own vomit.

Less than a month later, following a period of self-destruction, Janis Joplin was found dead in her hotel room, of a mixture of alcohol and heroin. And in July 71, bloated from alcohol and drugs, Jim Morrison went the same way. This is where the way of life of sex, drugs and rock’n’roll ended up.

Nothing manifests the shattering of the Hippie dream better than the four great rock festival movies of the late sixties. First, the Monterey Pop Festival of June 67, which was, as we recall, the first rock’n’roll festival in history, the first time when musicians from all over the world gathered to celebrate the new generation of popular music.

The beginning of the movie shows us that apart from that, it was a regular entertainment show, in which the audience paid for admittance and sat in rows of chairs, while the police was running things – back then there wasn’t yet talk of the counter-culture, of an alternative way to run a show.

At least not anywhere outside of Haight-Ashbury. But once we are done with this procedural stuff, the movie takes us into a magical place, a historic joy capsule that transpires in our ears and in our eyes. We hear folk-rock, acid-rock, British rhythm ‘n blues, soul, jazz, and classical Indian music, all coming together to create a new musical kaleidoscope, around which a new culture is being formed.

We see all the festival patrons still dressed in the dapper Mod style of the mid-sixties, but already affected by the psychedelic rainbow colors, with everyone trying to add something original of their own. Throughout the movie we see people smiling and having a good time, and when the music begins, we see them melt with pleasure with the lovely harmonies of the Mamas and the Papas and Simon & Garfunkel, sent to ecstatic heights with the mighty soul of Otis Redding, staring agape at the breakthrough performances of Janis Joplin and Jimi Hendrix, and going into trance with the enchanting sitar sounds of Ravi Shankar.

You can even see the artists themselves mingle with the crowd, and enjoying the performances of their peers. I don’t know of any documentary that has the same feeling. Two years later, in August 69, came the Woodstock festival. This wasn’t in the warm Sun of California, but in the rain and mud of New York, but that did not deter hundreds of thousands of youngsters from flocking to the place, to take part in a three day festival of sound.

Unlike Monterey, which was organized by a professional producer, here the organizers were young Hippies, and when they realized that the attendance is much larger than the number of tickets, they decided to go all out and announced that the admittance is free. The financial loss was massive, but it was worth it for the experience.

The counter-culture got mobilized to help make it work, and the Hippie communes provided food and other services. Here is where the Woodstock myth was born, the myth of a utopian society in which hundreds of thousands of young people can coexist in fraternity and cooperation, and live on constant high from listening to great music.

The movie shows it very well, shows a society in which everyone contributes to the whole. “We’re all feeding each other! We must be in Heaven, man!” exults one of the speakers on stage. But when the cameras pan out a little, the illusion is revealed. The festival attendants may have felt that they are making it on their own without the authorities, but the authorities were actually involved all the way, and if it wasn’t for the massive help that they provided in food, sanitation and healthcare, the event might have been a large scale disaster.

Musically, we see that rock music now became the sea that all musical rivers meet in. All of the sixties musical styles are represented, but they all now express themselves through the flexible sound of electric guitars. There is still a feeling that the rock nation is united and all styles are in dialogue with each other and feed each other, and there’s also still a lot of Hippie idealism.

The music is fantastic, but the bad vibrations of the last year and a half can already be felt. Here’s Jimi Hendrix performing the Star Spangled Banner, incorporating air raids, anguished screams and funeral music, and perfectly capturing the ambivalent feelings that the American youth had towards their country at the time.

But the myth of Woodstock as a symbol for a new utopian world, for getting ourselves back to the garden, as Joni Mitchell sang, took hold, and became an ideal that every other rock festival would be judged by. The Rolling Stones, who didn’t perform at Woodstock, wanted to be part of that myth as well.

A few months later they started a tour of the States, and announced that they will end it with a free concert in San Francisco. The ambition was to organize a concert based entirely on the means of the counter-culture, with no dependence on the authorities. The movie shows them trying to arrange the concert, which turned out to be a much harder undertaking than they thought.

Once again, the counter-culture mobilized to help, and the local acid-rock bands confirmed their participation, but they still needed to find a place big enough and willing to host the event, not an easy endeavor when you can’t offer the possibility of financial gain. Finally they rented a race track in Altamont, which wasn’t exactly suited for a rock concert, and for security the hired the Hell’s Angels, the biker gang that was considered, as we recall, part of the counter-culture.

We mentioned that the Angels enjoyed taking part in the Hippie love-ins and partake in all the sex and drugs, so they generally behaved themselves, a fact that enabled the counter-culture to ignore their violent side. But hiring them to be in charge of security was asking for trouble, and trouble didn’t fail to arrive.

The movie is called ‘Gimme Shelter’, and it begins with the same sights we’ve seen in the Monterey and Woodstock movies: multitudes of youngsters, dressed in freaky outfits, flocking to Altamont, expecting an unforgettable night. But when the music begins, so do the troubles. As the Jefferson Airplane are playing, the crowd starts to get rowdy, as usual in rock concerts.

Professional security guards would show tolerance, but the Hell’s Angels handle it the only way they knew: with brutal force. The crowd, in large parts tripping on hard drugs, reciprocates in kind, and the situation escalates. Once the Stones take the stage, playing their wild satanic music, all hell breaks loose.

Jagger stops the music several times and tries to put things back in order, reciting the Hippie slogans about peace and love that by then already sounded corny, but his words fall on deaf ears – once the music starts again, so does the violence. Things come to a head when a young man, standing just meters away from the stage, draws a gun and aims it at the Angels, and they immediately pounce on him and stab him to death.

Many other youngsters came out battered and bruised from the event, which, as we recall, was supposed to “create a microcosmic society which sets example to the rest of America as to how one can behave in nice gatherings”. This happened in December 1969, in the same month that the Manson Family took the headlines, and the combined effect of Manson and Altamont terminally destroyed the Hippie pretensions to present an alternative world of peace and love.

Britain had its own rock festival, an annual summer event held since 1968 in the Isle of Wight, organized by a company run by three young brothers. The brothers were driven by a true passion for the music and the values of the youth culture, and in the first couple of years it was a modest event, but after Woodstock, they were inspired to try to arrange a similar event for the British youth.

For the 1970 event, they announced that this time the festival will be a large scale gathering, lasting five days, and serving as a role model for a self-sustaining society. They fenced a large area in the island, booked more than fifty artists, and with much love and care they managed to overcome the complicated logistical problems.

And the youth did indeed show up en masse, coming from Britain, America and Europe, in numbers that were estimated to surpass even Woodstock. But this youth was also driven by the myth of Woodstock, and many refused to cough up the nominal sum that they were asked to pay for a ticket, which was particularly ridiculous considering the amount of money they had to pay to get to the event.

Maintaining the ideal of a free festival was more important to them than compensating the organizers, and not let them go broke. Instead, they stood outside and started banging on the fence, demanding free admittance. The movie shows how the slogans of the counter-culture, that were supposed to represent enlightened values, are twisted and used to justify the most selfish and barbaric behavior.

The artists try to sing above the ruckus, but the bad vibrations spread to every corner of the venue, and affect them as well. Several of them look sullied from too many drugs, and no one is willing to give up part of their pay to help the organizers. There is still a lot of good music, but we already see the rock nation splintering into many styles – heavy metal, progressive rock, fusion, singer-songwriter, country-rock and more – with not much uniting them.

Eventually, the organizers decide to open the gates and let everyone enter for free, and one of them announces it from the stage and speaks in the utopian rhetoric taken from Woodstock, but there are tears in his eyes. Only three years have gone by since Monterey, but that spirit was dead. But the most symbolic thing that happened in 1970 was the collapse of the band that epitomized the sixties, the band that was the heart of youth culture.

In 1968 this heart began to break, because the bundle called the Beatles could no longer contain the personality differences between its four members, and every one of them began to pull in his own direction, and work on projects outside the band. After they completed the white album, they tried to find a way to renew the fun, and thought that maybe it’s time to get back to some live playing.

Their next project, called ‘Let it Be’, was supposed to be based on recordings that will make no use of studio technology, to recapture the spontaneous feeling of their early days. They also hired a film crew to document the process, and the resulting movie shows that there were indeed moments of fun, but also moments when the tensions bubbled up to the surface.

To end it, they decided to try to do a live performance, something they haven’t done in more than two years, and they ascended to the roof of the studio to throw a surprise concert. And so, on the 30th of January, 1969, the Beatles gave what turned out to be their last performance. It was a brilliant idea, which did bring back the spontaneous thrill of their music, and the movie shows the crowds slowly gathering, looking at the wonder happening above their heads.

But after half an hour, the police stop the concert, for disturbing the public order. A glum ending to the performing career of the greatest band of all. The final song in the performance also reflects the changing mood. ‘Get Back’ was written in response to growing xenophobic emotions in Britain, following the arrival of waves of immigrants.

The dream of a new world that will overcome the racism of the past crashed against the rocks of reality, and Paul McCartney wrote the song from the point of view of a person demanding from the immigrants to get back to where they came from, to satirize such people. But the Beatles were afraid that the irony will be lost on the public, and the lyrics were changed to something rather prosaic.

True, this self-censorship characterized the Beatles from the start, but in the early years it made their records more sophisticated, with their hidden meanings smiling behind the innocent mask. In 1969, the ugly events transpiring around them meant that the subjects of their songs were so harsh that in order to maintain innocence, they had to emasculate their records to the point of banality.

The original spirit of the band could no longer exist in the reality of the time. The next Beatles project was the album Abbey Road, for which they once again closed themselves in the studio. But not together. Most of the parts were recorded by every member on his own, and later put together. They are hardly a band here, but four individuals with not much connecting between them.

The only track that somewhat preserves the feeling of togetherness is ‘Because’, with its vocal harmonies. The lyrics are full of puns which turn natural phenomena into feelings, once again creating a sense of unity between Man and nature. But the atmosphere is melancholy – the melody is actually Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata played backwards, and the effect is just as sad.

The last verse – “because the sky is blue, it makes me cry” – pretty much sums up the mood. The music of the Beatles represents pure unadulterated joy, the happiness of everyday life when you’re having fun in your existence. But the late sixties were no fun, and gave them no happy things to sing about.

Without this joy to hold them together, the inner tensions and frictions within the band surfaced. From a group that was once four lads united against the world, they became separate individuals who conversed with each other through lawyers. Once this happened, things just went uglier and uglier. And, as it was throughout the decade, what happened to the Beatles was reflective of the culture around them.

The counter-culture was falling apart, losing the joy of life and sense of purpose that held it together. It used to be about liberation, about expanding your horizons, about achieving harmony, about creating a better world. The entire Hippie identity was constructed around these ambitions. But now, these ambitions lay in tatters, and the identity was in a lost state.

Without this inner core, most of it didn’t make sense anymore. And for the Beatles to remain true to themselves, this left only one viable option. On the last day of 1970, after a bitter fallout, they announced that they are disbanding. The dream was over.

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VW Beetle – Everything You Need to Know


Ladies and gentlemen…The Beatles! It began its life as a Dictator’s dream but became a symbol of peace and love worldwide. It’s a pop-culture Icon that shared the screen with such legends as Kevin Bacon, Optimus Prime, and Lindsay friggin’ Lohan.

And at one point, it was the best-selling car of all time. This is everything you need to know to get Up to Speed on the Volkswagen Beetle. It’s 1934, and Germany’s not doing so great. That summer, a failed artist named Adolf Hitler Seized power after Germany’s president Hindenburg died in his home at 87.

Hitler mandated that Germany have a state car. Something the average family could afford. The German government brought the Volkswagen concept to life in a race car engineer named Ferdinand Porsche. Porsche’s job was to make a small yet big vehicle to fit a whole family, simple enough to use and maintain anywhere and dependable enough that people could drive it practically forever.

The final body design reflected a trend at the time for sleek, round vehicles. But, unfortunately, that look didn’t leave much room for a trunk which didn’t matter because Porsche did that Porsche does. So he designed an air-cooled boxer engine and shoved it in the butt. But it turned out Old Ferdinand and Komenda might have taken a little inspiration from somewhere else: Czechoslovakia.

More specifically, from the small Czech Automaker, Tatra. They saw the Volkswagen and noticed it looked a little…familiar. So they sued ‘em! And what do you do when you’re a megalomaniacal dictator who gets sued over cars? That’s right’ you invade the country and take over the factory! So then, as the totally original design came together, it was time to start building it.

Technically, this was a government project under a division called: Strength Through Joy. Or in German, Kraftdurch Freude! Kraft Durch Freude! They built a brand new factory near Fallersleben. And would ya guess what they called the town they built around the new factory? The City of the Strength Through Joy at Fallersleben.

Nazis are so creative In 1938, the factory began rolling the first production cars off the line. The first units were all given to high-ranking military personnel, and the first convertible was given to Hitler himself. The thing is, though, this was 1938, and Hitler needed every vehicle factory in Germany to start exclusively producing military vehicles.

So with only 210 of the original KdF-Wagens built, the factory shut down production to focus on the military effort, which would go poorly for the factory, Germany, Europe, and the entire world. Cut to 1945! When the Second World War ended, Germany was a pile of rubble. The Fallersleben factory had been bombed.

The occupying British forces in charge of the area found the original production line parts for the KdF-Wagen. British car makers were invited to bid on the production line parts to mass-produce the vehicle back in the UK. But nobody wanted it! “Ok mates, ok chaps,” “I have production parts of a shitty little Nazi car,” “Going for one million pounds,” “One million pounds, can I get one million pounds?” “I don’t know about you mate, I think that car is ugly and slow” “I agree entirely mate” “Would you like to go get some tea and custards?” “Ooh I love tea and custards” “Let’s go to the Buckingham’s” “Buckingham’s is my favorite tea and custard shop” “So should we take your carriage?” “Right right” “Right right” In 1946, the factory was rebuilt after the city was renamed “Wolfsburg.”

yellow vw beetle automobileSince the British didn’t want to take it, the production line was reassembled, and cars started rolling. No more Strength Through Joy: the car was now simply the Volkswagen Type 1. Once again, the first models were given to military personnel, which was time for the occupying forces. Finally, in 1949, the British handed off control of the factory to an ex-Opel executive named Heinz Nordhoff.

With the factory rebuilt and Germany as a whole slowly coming back, the new company, called Volkswagen, was ready to live harmoniously with the rest of the world. So the Volkswagen Type 1 started selling around Western Europe, including its native Germany, where it first garnered the nickname ‘the Beetle.

‘ But Europe in the late ‘40s was still recovering from those of heads Nazis. If you wanted to sell to a market with a big population, lots of money, and roads that weren’t all blown up, you had to go to America. But at first, no dealership in the US wanted to touch the little car. The Beetle only had 24hp, it looked weird, and when you pressed the horn, you would hear Hitler screaming ‘Nein Nein Nein!’ Volkswagen’s first few efforts to sell in America went nowhere.

VW managed to get a few dealerships to take on their cars in 1950. And against all expectations, the little Bug started to sell. First, the car WAS cheap, much more affordable than most other cars on the market. Second, it was a rugged and reliable machine, even on unpaved roads. Third, if it did break, the repair was relatively simple and inexpensive.

The people’s car became the people’s choice. By 1955, eight years after going to market, Volkswagen had sold one million Beetles. Meanwhile, its simple construction made it easy to custom re-engineer at home. In particular, outdoorsy types stripped the Bug way down to make a tough, light vehicle for crossing sandy areas like deserts or beaches.

What did they call a Bug that drives on dunes? A dune buggy. Dune buggies became a pop sensation in their own right, especially in California surfer culture dude. They would cut off the car’s whole body, put a new fiberglass body on it, and rip up the beaches, pulling tail. “Hey guys, wanna hit up old man’s? I heard it’s got pretty good swells right now” “Who was that?” “That’s Jason, he’s like one of the best surfers on the whole beach” “He’s really cute,” “I know, real dreamboat,” “Yeah” “But you know what I heard?” “What?” “He has herpes.

beat up red vw beetle auto
This one was mine!

..” Suddenly, Beetles were cool. In 1972 Volkswagen produced its 15,007,034th Beetle. They threw a big ol’ party for it at the factory. Why did anybody care about this random number? Because that was exactly how many Ford Model Ts were ever produced. And that made the Beetle, the best-selling car of all time! Honestly, I bet it wasn’t much of a party “Congratulations on the big number!” “Thank you.

Back to work?” “Back to work” Even though sales were good. Its days were numbered. Volkswagen saw the need for a modernized replacement and released the Golf in 1974. The Golf was a small, cheap, and reliable people’s car but made nearly double the horsepower and, you know, wasn’t designed by the most notorious mass murderer in the history of the planet.

Buyers around the world shifted from the Beetle to the Golf pretty quickly. And by ‘around the world,’ I mean ‘Everywhere except Mexico and Brazil,’ where apparently the people loved the Beetle so much that they refused to stop buying it. As a result, the Beetle was produced in Mexico until 2003! In the end, the Volkswagen Type 1 sold 21 million units worldwide.

And its core tenets of simplicity, dependability, and affordability inspired a whole new category of cars from makers around the world. So in 1998, Volkswagen decided to bring the icon back to life, in the first major refresh and update in the Beetle’s history. As it was called, the New Beetle was a more modern machine with 115hp and a nicer interior.

Underneath, it was basically a Golf. The New Beetle captured interest the world over, and pretty soon, a shiny Beetle was a common sight once again. Then, in 2001, Volkswagen decided to really push the car and made the limited edition RSi, which got 221hp. This lead to a full production run of the Turbo S, which featured ‘ you guessed it, ‘a turbocharged engine capable of 180hp.

1 point 80! Never lose! And Volkswagen still produces the New Beetle today. The Volkswagen Beetle is the little car that could, the pipe dream of a tyrant that charms the whole world and becomes a symbol of love. Whether riding around on roads or dunes, it could be found in nearly every country on earth.

brown vw beetle automobileIt was a sales sensation; it’s still a pop culture icon. But, no matter how far it’s gone, it has never forgotten its roots. Well, I mean, most of them. So shout out to Skillshare for sponsoring this video! Are you struggling to make a new year’s resolution? Maybe you’re sitting there on your butt thinking, “well gall dang, I wish I could effortlessly present everything about cars off the top of my like this guy does! I wish I had some kind of marketable skill like that smart, handsome, sexy James Pumphrey…” Well, you’re in luck! Because Skillshare is a thing, They’re here to help you learn to be a better you for 2018 and beyond! Skillshare is an online learning community with over 18,000 professional and easy-to-understand classes in film, writing, design, and much more! Premium Membership gives you unlimited access to high-quality classes from experts working in their fields, so you can improve your skills, unlock new opportunities, and do the work you love.

For example, this class by Soledad O’Brien- she’ll teach you powerful strategies for crafting great content! Just like your boy, Jimmy to the Pump… James Pumphrey Skillshare is also more affordable than most learning platforms out there: an annual subscription is less than $10 a month. All you have to do is click the link below to get the first 3 months of Skillshare for just 99¢, or you could type it in but however you get there… go sign up at this link.

This offer is only good through the end of January! You know how many new year’s resolutions you could tackle in 3 months?! You could start your own frickin’ channel with all your new skills. So don’t wait, dummy! Do it. Do it! Get skilled with Skillshare! I freakin’ dare you dude. This is everything you need to know about the Volkswagen Beetle Bug, love bug. Oh, there goes a beetle! Why is that a thing? Why does the beetle come on the flower on the dashboard? Do they still? It’s stupid.

I’d put weed in it. We made a cool video with a cool Beetle. It’s called “Quantum Drift.” You should watch it on Youtube. How many people have you ever fit in a Volkswagen Beetle? How many Volkswagen Beetle have you ever fit in a person? Send me a dollar for my Lambo. I still want one.

Oh, follow me on Instagram: @JamesPumphrey If I get 10,000 followers, I will pick one at random and send them something weird It probably won’t be car-related, and it might be perishable, and it might have been grown on my body. Got a lot of new shows coming out: Mondays, we got “Wheelhouse,” Tuesdays, we’ve got “Matt Field’s FD corvette build,” Wednesdays, we have “Science Garage” with Bart, Thursdays, we’ve got this f’in’ show, and Fridays, we have “Tony’s Top 10”.

Watch all of them. It’s all funny. It’s all educational; it’s all Donut. Those guys are all my friends. If those shows are successful, then I’m successful. Hitler is probably the only guy that I hate more than my dad. Hmm…I don’t hate my dad; I miss him. I don’t miss Hitler at all.

Peace, frickin’ love, and metal.

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The Start of the British Invasion

The British music invasion of the early Sixties is a hazy memory to most of us who are old enough to remember it at all. For many of us, it’s the kind of memory that makes us smile and remember a time when things were less complicated… when we shared with each other the pure joy and energy of the new music playing on our radios.

On Sunday February 9th, 1964 over 70 million people in North America turned their TV’s to The Ed Sullivan show to see the Beatles first live performance in the US. Over 60% of America’s television sets (in excess of 23 million homes) were tuned in to watch Beatlemania hit North America.

Ed Sullivan and the Beatles

Here is Ed Sullivan’s introduction: “Now yesterday and today our theater’s been jammed with newspapermen and hundreds of photographers from all over the nation, and these veterans agreed with me that this city never has witnessed the excitement stirred by these youngsters from Liverpool who call themselves The Beatles. Now tonight, you’re gonna twice be entertained by them. Right now, and again in the second half of our show. Ladies and gentlemen, The Beatles! Let’s bring them on.”

Then it was on with the show and The Beatles opened with “All My Loving”. Next, Paul sang “Till There Was You” and “She Loves You” was the last song in the first set. Their second set included two more of their hits, “I Saw You Standing There” and “I Want To Hold Your Hand.” It is estimated that over 40% of every man, woman, and child in the US watched the Beatles that night – An incredible success for any television show.

That Was It!

There it was … the floodgates opened and the phenomenon became known as the British Invasion. Over the next couple of years wave after wave of British acts arrived:

The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, The Who, The Yardbirds, The Animals, Chad & Jeremy, The Dave Clark Five, Dusty Springfield, Petula Clark, The Spencer Davis Group, Donovan, Marianne Faithfull, Freddie and the Dreamers, Georgie Fame, Wayne Fontana and the Mindbenders, Gerry and the Pacemakers, Herman’s Hermits, The Hollies, Tom Jones, The Kinks, Billy J Kramer & The Dakotas, Lulu, Manfred Mann, The Moody Blues, Peter and Gordon, The Pretty Things, The Searchers, The Small Faces, The Troggs, Ian Whitcomb and The Zombies.

“Close your eyes and I’ll kiss you … Tomorrow I’ll miss you … Remember I’ll always be true”

The phrase that’s hard to say … you simply have to sing or hum it!

Bo Diddley

Bo Diddley was an influencer of many of the founding fathers of rock.  His birth name was Otha Ellas Bates.  It was in the deep South, in McComb, Mississippi, on December 28th, 1928.  He later took the name of Ellas McDaniel when he was adopted by his mother’s cousin and moved to Chicago’s South Side.Bo Diddly's square guitar

Ellas learned music at the Ebenezer Baptist Church.   He mastered the trombone and violin first before taking up the guitar.  And oh, what a guitarist he would be!  Like many musicians, he started out gigging in Chicago clubs as a sideline.

Image: In the 1950s, Bo Diddley had a square guitar custom-made. He’d go on to make guitars of all shapes.

No one is really sure where the name Bo Diddley came from.  He says that it was a name given to him by some pals when boxing in the Golden Gloves.  He suspected that it was an insult, but he also noted a stage name previously used by a comedian related to his mother.  Wherever it came from, it stuck.

Bo Diddley’s Music

It wasn’t until 1951 when he landed his first regular gig at the 708 Club and in 1954 when he recorded his first demo record.  The demo included “I’m a Man” and “Bo Diddley.”  Chess Studios liked the demo,  recorded it, and in March of 1955, he had a #1 R&B hit with  “Bo Diddley.

Bo Diddley 45 rpm recordOn November 20, 1955, his musical stardom was when he appeared on the popular television program The Ed Sullivan Show.  In the 1950s, when you hit Ed Sullivan’s show, you were a star.  Unfortunately, there was some confusion with Sullivan’s staff, and Bo ended up performing an as-yet-unreleased “Sixteen Tons” along with “Bo Diddle.”  Sullivan was angry and never invited him back.  Bo Diddley went on to record “Sixteen Tons,” and we’re still listening to it today.

This article won’t go into his discography and professional accomplishments.  There’s plenty of that on the web.   We’ve included him here as a member of Rock royalty and one of the founding fathers of rock and roll.

road runner album coverHis special way of playing the guitar, using it almost like a percussion instrument rather than for melody or harmony.  It was an African rhythm that Bo Diddley transitioned into American R&B, which is the basis for today’s Rock and Roll.  The Bo Diddley beat is heard in many other early rockers, notably Buddy Holly,  Elvis, The Beatles,  the Stones, and others.  It’s grown to become the backbone of today’s hip-hop and rap.

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, the Rockabilly Hall of Fame, the Blues Hall of Fame, the Hit Parade Hall of Fame, and more have honored him.  He’s been awarded the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award and an honorary Doctor of Fine Arts degree.   But most of all, Bo, we thank you for your music.

Roy Orbison

Roy Kelton Orbison was born on April 23, 1936, in Vernon, Texas. Professionally, his parents – a nurse and a worker – had nothing to do with music. But in his free time from work, he loved to play the guitar and sing with friends. On his sixth birthday, along with the harmonica that Roy dreamed of, his father gave him a guitar.  That predetermined the fate of the guy. The boy quickly learned to play and soon took part on an equal basis with adults in impromptu home concerts. At the age of eight, Roy wrote his first song called “A Vow of Love.” A year later, he won the city’s young talent competition and received an invitation to perform on a Saturday show on local radio. In late 1946, the Orbison family moved to Wink, where, a few years later, Roy formed his first group, the Wink Westerners. The frontman was then barely 13 years old. The venture turned out to be surprisingly tenacious.

Three years later, the group, playing other people’s country songs, was invited to perform once a week on the local radio station KERB. Over time, the ensemble expanded its repertoire, performing instrumental compositions and big band standards. Roy Orbison was an unusually active and energetic teenager. During the summer holidays, he worked part-time as a laborer, taking on the hardest work.

In parallel with his studies at school, he managed to play in the orchestra, which performed marches, sang in the octet, learned to play the trumpet. And in his senior year, he even became the manager of the school football team. Over time, the ensemble expanded its repertoire, performing instrumental compositions and big band standards. Roy Orbison was an unusually active and energetic teenager. During the summer holidays, he worked part-time as a laborer, taking on the hardest work. In parallel with his studies at school, he managed to play in the orchestra, which performed marches, sang in the octet, learned to play the trumpet. And in his senior year, he even became the manager of the school football team. Over time, the ensemble expanded its repertoire, performing instrumental compositions and big band standards. Roy Orbison was an unusually active and energetic teenager. During the summer holidays, he worked part-time as a laborer, taking on the hardest work. In parallel with his studies at school, he managed to play in the orchestra, which performed marches, sang in the octet, learned to play the trumpet. And in his senior year, he even became the manager of the school football team.

The Wink Westerners

In 1953, the Wink Westerners began working part-time in city clubs and soon embarked on their first modest tour of West Texas. After graduating from high school, Roy Orbison moved to Denton, where he entered college. Together with two fellow students, he made his first professional recording, “The Ooby Dooby.” True, the young musicians did not wait for the promised contract with Columbia Records. In 1955, Orbison entered the two-year college in Odessa (Odessa Junior College). At first, he intended to study geology but preferred history and English. Over time, other members of Wink Westerners gathered in Odessa. Having slightly updated the lineup and changed the name to The Teen Kings, they took up the old one – they performed in clubs with a rock and roll repertoire. The musicians have their Saturday show on local television, the guests of celebrities who came to the city. Roy Orbison has interviewed even Elvis Presley and Johnny Cash.

Weldon Rogers, who has just created his own record label, Je-Wel, has agreed to lend studio time to Roy Orbison. Accompanied by The Teen Kings, Roy recorded two songs – “Ooby Dooby” and a cover version of Clover’s “Trying to Get to You.” The double single was released two weeks after the studio sessions, t. The record fell into the hands of Sun Records boss Sam Phillips, who immediately tracked down the musicians and invited them to Memphis, where they recorded three of their compositions. And at the earliest opportunity, he went on a test tour of the southern states, supporting Johnny Cash, Carl Perkins, Warren Smith, Jerry Lee Lewis, and other famous artists. Tours were not in vain – single “Ooby Dooby” appeared on the 59th line of the pop chart; however, the following singles, published by the label Sun Records, did not receive any response. In December 1956, The Teen Kings disbanded, and Roy Orbison decided to help develop his composing skills.

A new chapter in the musician’s biography began in 1958 when the Everly Brothers recorded his composition “Claudette,” which Roy dedicated to his wife, Claudette. Released as a B-side, it rose to the American Top 30, while Orbison’s songs appeared in the repertoire of Buddy Holly, Rick Nelson, and Jerry Lee Lewis. This significantly raised his prestige as a composer. The tracks “Uptown” performed by the artist himself and especially “Only the Lonely,” which were distinguished by an unusual orchestral and allowed the singer to shine with his charming baritone, felt more and more confident in the charts. The single “Only the Lonely” quickly finished on the second line of the American rankings and became a number one hit in the UK.

Monument Records

Roy Orbison Album
Roy Orbison’s first album from Monument Records featured “Only the Lonely.”

During this time, the artist began recording for the new independent label Monument Records with producer Joe Melson. Orbison is incredibly lucky with the record bosses. The head of the label, Fred Foster, was not chasing quick success.. He gave the singer studio time with no guarantee of future profits, allowed to experiment, and ignored the market demands. Ultimately, he won. Roy Orbison grew into a unique artist, performing a one-of-a-kind repertoire, original in structure, sound, and style. Orbison himself began to dictate the fashion of music, creating fresh, quasi-symphonic orchestrations. Roy’s characteristic vocals and guitar along with thrilling strings, sinister drums, and magical backing vocals were amazed the studio. The hits followed one after another: “Crying,”

In May 1963, Orbison accepted an offer to tour the UK to support the Beatles, who were just beginning their stellar career. Tickets sold out tickets for all concerts in a few days. On the first evening, the audience did not want to let the singer go and called him for an encore 14 times. John Lennon later admitted that when he wrote songs for the first Beatles album, “Please Please Me,” he set himself to surpass Roy Orbison.

Orbison could compete with the Beatles, and he was one of the few who withstood the wave of the so-called British invasion.

Oh Pretty Woman

In 1964, the artist released the biggest hit in his creative biography – the song “Oh Pretty Woman.” It was co-written with new partner Bill Dees. The composition “Oh Pretty Woman” is the pinnacle of a single biography and one of the most famous and iconic songs of the rock era. In August 1964, the single was released in the United States, followed a month later in the UK and dozens of other countries. It consistently became the number one hit in every country it was published in. In a matter of months, even before the end of 1964, the single “Oh Pretty Woman” fell into the hands of seven million music lovers around the world.

The musician consolidated his studio success with regular and extremely successful tours, which allowed him to show live all the power and beauty of his magnificent voice. In 1964, Orbison undertook an Australian tour with the Beach Boys, and in 65, he shared the stage with the Rolling Stones and visited Europe many times.

When his contract with Monument expired, Orbison was an ace target for record labels. The head of MGM offered him a million-dollar contract. His debut on a new label, the single “Ride Away,” only peaked at # 25 on the pop chart.  But time has shown to be the musician’s most successful release in the States in the next twenty years. Unfortunately, the million-dollar contract took away the singer’s creative freedom. For the label, MGM, one of the market leaders, Roy Orbison, was just another artist who was subject to the general rules.  Tops was the pursuit of quantity at the expense of quality. The musician was forced to release the agreed number of singles and albums, for which he paid with the level of records and then popularity.

Roy Orbison with sunglasses
Roy lost his glasses before a concert and went on stage wearing sunglasses. He wore them from then on.

A very difficult period began in the life of Roy Orbison. Professional failure is only half the trouble. In 1966, a much more terrible blow fell on him.  His wife Claudette, with whom they lived for nine years, died in a car accident. Two years later, a new tragedy struck.  Two of Orbison’s three children died during a fire, and his house burned down. For several years, the musician could not write music but kept himself in shape, continuing to tour and act in films. In particular, he played the main role in the film “The Fastest Guitar Alive.”

A young German woman Barbara Anne Marie Wilhonnen Jacobs, whom he met in England, helped the artist get out of the crisis. Barbara moved to America, and they got married in May 1969.

In 1974, the artist moved to a new label, Mercury Records. This did not return his former popularity. True, as Orbison liked to repeat, his songs were necessarily present in the charts somewhere in the world. For example, the single “Penny Arcade” hit number one in Australia.  The track “Too Soon to Know” hit Top 3 in the UK.

Monument Records Again

In 1976, the musician returned to the Monument label in hopes of restoring his reputation as a hitmaker. In the United States, he did not manage to revive his former popularity for a long time. For more than twenty years, from the late 60s to the late 80s, his albums and singles were sold so sluggishly that they almost did not appear on the charts. But the world is big, and the artist found a place to turn around. The busy concert schedule included lengthy tours of the Far East, Australia, Asia, and Europe. A grueling life on wheels, plus excessive smoking, were quick to take their toll on Orbison’s health. In January 1978, he underwent open-heart surgery. But after three weeks, he played the first concert, proving to everyone and himself that he would still fight.

Meanwhile, a glimpse has been outlined in America. Unaclaimed as a performer, Roy Orbison has always remained a fairly popular composer and one of the most beloved authors. Cover versions of his songs became hits one after another. The single “Blue Bayou,” released by Linda Ronstadt, has sold 8 million copies. Van Halen’s new version of “Oh Pretty Woman” was a huge hit. The song “Crying” became one of the biggest hits in Don McClean’s career.

With the beginning of the 80s in Orbison’s career, there was an obvious turning point.   It gradually restored his reputation as an actual artist, keeping up with the times. In 1980, he won his first Grammy for Best Country Performance (track “That Lovin ‘You Feelin’ Again”). He shared it with Emmylou Harris. The beautiful song “Wild Hearts Run out of Time” sounded in the famous film “Insignificance.” In 1986 a long-play “Class of ’55” was released, recorded with colleagues on the Sun Record label. For the interview disc “Interviews From The Class Of ’55 – Recording Sessions,” Orbison again became a Grammy winner in the category “Best Non-Musical Album.” The composition “In Dreams” played an important role in the new surge in popularity.

Rock and Roll Hall of Fame

In January 1987, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inducted him. At the same time, a new contract with Virgin Records provided for the publication of a collection of hits, “In Dreams-Greatest Hits.”  The musician prepared several fresh tracks, written together with new co-authors, including Jeff Lynne.

Among the live albums released by Orbison over his 25-year career, there were many successes, such as “Roy Orbison at the Los Angeles Country Club” or “Live in Birmingham, Alabama.” But none of them could compare with the disc “Roy Orbison and Friends – A Black and White Night Live” (1989). A chic lineup recorded the album: Bruce Springsteen and Elvis Costello, Tom Waits and Bonnie Raitt, T-Bone Burnette and Jackson Browne ), and even accompanied by a backing band Elvis Presley with James Burton (James Burton) on guitar. He released a separate single on the album’s track “Crying,” a duet with Ki Dee Lang (KD Lang), which Orbison won him another Grammy.

The Traveling Wilburys

Collaboration with Jeff Lynn, certainly interesting in itself, had even more important consequences. Lynn has simultaneously produced George Harrison, Tom Petty, and Roy Orbison. This is how the composition of the participants of the future Traveling Wilburys super-project was outlined.  It was managed to attract Bob Dylan. The first album of this brilliant team (Lynn, Orbison, Harrison, Petty, and Dylan) climbed into the American Top 10.

In the meantime, Roy Orbison finished work on a selection of new material. The release was scheduled for January 1989, followed by a tour of America and Europe. In November, the musician performed as a headliner at the Belgian Diamond Awards Festival.  There, he performed a wonderful new composition, “You Got It.”

On December 6, 1988, in Nashville, where the singer came to visit his mother, he felt unwell.  A few hours later died of a heart attack after a shopping trip. He was only 52 years old.

Within a month, the name of Roy Orbison returned to the first lines of the charts. The single “You Got It” skyrocketed to the 9th position on the Billboard Hot 100. And the new long-play “Mystery Girl” hit the Top 5 of the pop albums rating.  It became the best-selling disc of Orbison’s career. In 1992 Virgin released the “King of Hearts” collection of unreleased material.  “The Very Best of Roy Orbison” came in 1996. The releases did not go unnoticed. His wife Barbara manages his legacy and prepares new releases on the specially created Orbison Records label.  She has done and continues to do a great job of popularizing Roy Orbison’s creativity.

We still love Roy Orbison, and we still listen to him. Regularly reissued compilations of hits are also regularly noted in the charts. The new “Virgin Platinum Collection”, was released at the end of 2004, nearly 15 years after the musician’s death.  It started in the US charts from the 16th line right away.