The 1960s are known as the counterculture decade, when Martin Luther King gave his ‘I Have a Dream’ speech, The Beatles sang about revolution and Dr Who was launched. The era is epitomised by Timothy Leary’s slogan ‘Tune In, Turn On, Drop Out’, interpreted by many to mean buy a kaftan, drop lots of acid, and jump on a rickety bus to India with 50p in your pocket.

If you are unfamiliar with the 1960s, our cult classics below will have you hooked and itching for more.


The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test by Tom Wolfe

The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test (1968) by Tom Wolfe – a non-fiction book written in the New Journalism style. It charts the shenanigans of Ken Kesey and his mates – the Merry Pranksters – as they host ‘acid-tests’ (LSD parties) and travel about America on a psychedelic bus

One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest (1962) by Ken Kesey – who is credited with kickstarting the hippie movement, (see above). Set in a psychiatric hospital, Big Nurse represents state oppression and the corruption of power. The novel also explores the relationship between sanity and madness, and conformity and non-conformity

The Bell Jar (1963) by Sylvia Plath – deemed unsuitable for high school students in Indianna…it was banned. It questions the role of women in the 1950s and the pressure to conform and perform

SlaughterhouseFive (1969) by Kurt Vonnegut – another controversial and banned book, the importance of which cannot be overstated. A multilinear story with a protagonist that can travel back and forth in time and aliens from the planet Tralfamadore, the book, at its heart, is about the insanity and horrors of war

A Clockwork Orange (1962) by Anthony Burgess – a gang of youths (droogs) who enjoy a bit of ‘ultra-violence’. The book is partly written in ‘Nadsat’, a fictional argot. Predictably, it was banned from a number of classrooms in  America



Here Are The Sonics

The Sonics – American garage band hugely influential on punk. Greatly admired by The Cramps and The White Stripes

The Stooges – fronted by the infamous Iggy Pop

Flamin’ Groovies – more garage rock influence for future bands

The Jimi Hendrix Experience – are you experienced?

The Who – one for the UK. ‘My Generation’ is Roger Daltrey’s brilliant stuttering elegy to youth



Barbarella starring Jane Fonda

Barbarella (1968) – mainstream sexploitation movie, starring Hollywood actor Jane Fonda in fantastic outfits. The 1980s band Duran Duran took their name from one of the characters (Durand Durand)

Night of the Living Dead (1968) – seen as the first modern zombie film about the undead, it went on to be interpreted as a critique of racism in America

Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill! (1965) – sadistic race-car-driving go-go dancers cause chaos in rural America. Murder, kidnap, nudity, violence, great sound track.

Psycho (1960) – another Hitchcock classic and the most famous. Norman Bates deals with his mummy issues and stabs Marion Crane in the notorious shower scene

Valley of the Dolls (1967) – trashy and kitsch, it’s got a ‘so bad it’s good’ vibe. Dolls are a slang term for downer pills e.g. barbiturates