Europe South Asia Asia Pacific Americas Middle East Africa BBC Homepage World Service Education
BBC Homepagelow graphics version | feedback | help
BBC News Online
 You are in: UK
Front Page 
Northern Ireland 
UK Politics 
Talking Point 
In Depth 
Thursday, 30 March, 2000, 14:44 GMT
The hippies who made it big

Jerry and Ben, pictured in 1988
Not all the hippies dropped out in the 60s, never to return.

Many held on to their ideals and still made it big in the years that followed.

The news that ice cream wizards Ben and Jerry seem to be going their separate ways will disappoint many of their loyal supporters. The story of how two ex-hippies built their hip company on socially aware politics appealed to many.

The Body Shop's Anita Roddick, made a name through cruelty free products
But now it seems that Jerry Greenfield is not happy with a deal which would see the company being part-owned by the multinational Unilever.

A hippy, according to the Concise Oxford Dictionary, is a person of unconventional appearance, typically with long hair, jeans, beads etc.

Often, it adds, the word is associated with hallucinogenic drugs and a rejection of conventional values.

The world of the internet has given former hippies and the ideals spawned by the times the chance to shine - just think of the net's debt to its libertarian and anarchic culture.

Tony Blair at Oxford, part of the band Ugly Rumours
Some of the biggest names - Apple's Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak, Wired's Louis Rosetto - had their hippy influences.

But it doesn't stop with the net. There's Felix Dennis, the boss of a publishing empire which takes in dozens of computer magazines and the mighty Maxim magazine which has now spread to the US.

Dennis was one of the defendants in the notorious Oz obscenity trial in 1971, which set the hippie culture against the establishment. Former BBC director general Lord Birt was one of the fundraisers.

Michael Eavis, pictured in Glastonbury's early days
Jethro Tull's Ian Anderson has earned a fortune estimated at 25m, owns a 15,000-acre farm on the Isle of Skye, and has been a Highland Businessman of the Year.

Chris Wright, one of the men behind Chrysalis, the record company which made Jethro Tull superstars, also has a hippy background but huge success. He is also the owner of Queen's Park Rangers football club and London Wasps rugby club.

And how about Sir Richard Branson, newly knighted by Prince Charles, who legend has it spent 1967 and 1968 squatting with 20 others in the basement of a London house? In a symbolic refusal to bow to convention, ties are still a no-no for him.

Mo Mowlam aims high
Anita Roddick, founder of the Body Shop, says her hippy phase of flowered dresses was dreadful, but made her name on principles of which hippies would be proud.

One of the standard bearers of hippy-style values is the Glastonbury festival, whose founder Michael Eavis has won widespread admiration for running a modern successful event without selling out.

Being a Deadhead, a devotee of the Grateful Dead, is for many a sine qua non of being a hippy - and the government's e-envoy Alex Allan falls right into that category.

On Mr Allan's own site, he writes: "I first saw the Dead in the mud at Bickershawe in 1972, and was so knocked out I went to all the Lyceum concerts after that. I have been a Deadhead ever since, and saw them whenever they came to Europe."

Alex Allan, Tony Blair's e-envoy
Mr Allan's friend, Tony Blair, was in a rock band at Oxford called Ugly Rumours, a phrase which was written on the cover of the 1971 Grateful Dead album From the Mars Hotel.

But, Mr Allan points out, it was another member of the band who was the Deadhead, not the future prime minister.

(Ben and Jerry also paid homage to the chief deadhead, the late Jerry Garcia, with their flavour Cherry Garcia.)

Cabinet enforcer Mo Mowlam confessed that as a child of the 60s she had smoked dope, and unlike President Clinton had inhaled. She received many plaudits for her honesty.

Celia Brayfield wrote in the New Statesman: "Hand that woman a flower and wish her peace and love. There goes a sister who has kept on trucking while so many others have just sold out to the system."

Search BBC News Online

Advanced search options
Launch console
Internet links:

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Links to other UK stories are at the foot of the page.

E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more UK stories