Opher’s Book Recommendations – The Sixties

I thought it was about time I did a little marketing. I’m producing all these books and it would be nice to have some readers for my words.

These are a couple of books about the Sixties experience. One is a bit factual and the other a novel.

These are the Amazon UK links:


Times and Tales of a Sixties Freak





Goofin’ with the Cosmic Freaks



Extract from Life and Times of a 60s Freak – Beat Generation


Beat Generation

The Beat generation was where it all started. They were 50s generation that began the process of rejecting the American Dream and looking for some alternative zen. Wasted and beat wading through the streets of America, talking Black jive, digging cool Jazz, smoking dope, taking peyote, careering through the highways of probability, scrawling poems on the inside of the skull.

Kerouac invented stream of consciousness and became the principle recorder of what was going on – raising the status of the hipness of black culture with its wild jazz and existential attitude. Seeing the horrors of American society, its conformity, war lust and seeking a crazy journey through zen into the cosmos beyond, in search of meaning, questioning existence. Kerouac whose tales of fire watching on mountain tops while seeking sartori and bumming round on boxcars or else storming around in cadillacs with crazy amphetamined lunatics, goofing on jazz, buzzing on marijuana and rockin’ in Mexican brothels, painted a new canvas of possibility for a whole generation. From the dull picture of conformity and the drabness of a lifetime of mind numbing work to a colourful alternative of wildness and crazy. Life could be as exciting and meaningful as the wailing saxophone solo of some black jazz musician who was reaching down to his very soul for inspiration as he blew. After Jack we all knew that there could be a different beat to life. That there was fire and craziness was fine, and there was a possibility of some greater rhythm behind reality, a rhythm that you could seek and connect to. From the constraints of his catholic upbringing he reached out to Zen. It’s true that he later fell back to the security of his mother, Catholicism and alcohol and died rejecting the son he had brought into the world. But that’s just sad.


A friend gave me a copy of ‘On the Road’ and I read it when I was eighteen. I wanted a car to roll around those back roads of Mexico. I wanted to ball around on speed, smoke marijuana in the heat, fuck and laugh with Mexican senoritas in bawdy bordellos, get pissed and yell and whoop to loud, loud jazz. The technicality of not actually greatly liking jazz was irrelevant. I was in love with the idea of it and what it represented.

Then Dharma Bums captivated me. I immediately wanted to get into Zen like Japhy. I wanted to ball around on boxcars, climb mountains, seek solitude and write poetry. I wanted to crack that code of life. Fuuuuuck!!!

Then Ginsberg, subject of obscenity charges for scrawling graphic homosexual imagery in Howl. Howl – the first poem that brought me back to poetry after school had destroyed it. And Ginsberg, an American Jew, writing great clouts of tirade against the monolithic state of America, the futility of civilisation, and the bankrupt souls of Western culture; Ginsberg, an outsider, daring to point fingers and show us an alternative way to live.



I was watching the best minds of my generation in the process of being destroyed. Where was the excitement? The possibility? The exploration of life, the soul and reality? They were being bored to death! We were being stifled before we had learnt to see. We were being locked in straitjackets, blinkered and taught what to think. Religion, education, society, careers, and our place. Suddenly there was a poem that was shrieking out loud about it. They were holding me down with a pillow over my face and suffocating the questioning out of me. Then along came Ginsberg and you were not alone in living under some fiery firmament that didn’t make sense. That the cosy church services did not make sense of. That it was a possibility to investigate reality and go crazy. That craziness was more sane than the insanity of this cosiness. The pillow was lifted and you could breathe a heady mix of uncharted stimulation. It was all up for grabs. You were well off the highway heading down the trails to the wilderness.

Ginsberg rescued poetry. It was again something that you could relate to purposefully. It spoke to my generation again. It wasn’t something you had to learn by rote and recite at request or suffer a detention.

And what of Burroughs who shot his wife through the head playing William Tell with an apple and wrote the naked Lunch and Junkie on an exploration through junk, peyote and yage. So far outside the cosy security of what my life seemed to have mapped out for me. Here were the squalid dreams, hallucinations and existence of a junkie. It was a totally different perspective on reality. Maybe not one you’d choose to pursue but one that had as equal a validity as anything else. That was what was important. We had broken out of the grey room. There was a universe out there and nobody understood it. Not only that but nobody seemed at all interested in exploring it. Everything was too safe! Yet there was no safety. The only thing you could be certain of was that you were going to die. At least these outsiders were fundamentally involved with grappling with the issues.



The eyes were opened to Corso, Ferlinghetti, Snyder and hundreds more. So where were our poets? Where were our equivalent of the American Beat Poets? Surely there had to be some British maniacs? Some British explorers of the soul and advocators of craziness? But Horrozitz, Pete Brown and Roy Harper were still a way off in the future and Adrian Henry and McGough were not far out enough to really compete.

Crazy outsiders and social misfits, explorers and seekers after different ways. That’s what was essential. Those were the credentials. Straight society might have its preoccupation with money, status and power through orthodox careers, status symbols, and your place in society, but we were looking to play a different game with entirely different rules. To play this game you could not use your present hand of cards. Those numbers did not add up. This was a hand of hip jokers. These cards won regardless of the others hand. Social position? Wealth? That wasn’t where it was at. The world was turned upside down. You aspired to be a black minstrel telling it as it was or a beat poet riding the blinds and seeking sartori, wild music, wild women and crazy stonedness in equal measures. The rules had changed.


The smokey Jazz cellars developed into the early 60s Folk scene. The hip talk, the dope and poetry were allied to Civil Rights, Anti-war and Socialism.

Dylan was adopted by Allen Ginsberg, who can be seen in the famous Subterranean Homesick Blues clip. The philosophy of beatness and Zen spilt through into the lyrics and life-styles. Dylan epitomised this. In his early incarnations he was a commentator on social, racial and political issues. He raised awareness of the senseless brutality and futility of war, of the racist suppression of blacks and the vagaries of the class system and social justice. In a slightly later incarnation he was a hip surrealist poet, amphetamine crazy, spouting and snarling Beat poems over a pounding, weaving background of strident rock.

In Britain poets like Roy Harper developed from Jazz poetry to acoustic guitar and contemporary acoustic word pictures. I wouldn’t even dare to insult it by calling it Folk. It may have come out of the Folk scene. It may have used the Folk scene. But this was a new thing. Dylan, Harper and hundreds of others were melding together poetry inspired by the Beats and modern day issues into a new type of music.

In New York Beats like Ed Sanders took it into street theatre and formed the Fugs. They staged happenings, like trying to levitate the pentagon. They took political stances. They used satire and send-up. They were sexually explicit. More importantly they were completely crazy and were not in the business of producing product for mass consumption and exploitation. What was more important was to express what you felt, connect with other like-minded people, have fun, and change the world in the process.

Out of the Beats grew the 60s underground, a linear progression. Not a fashion but a complete rejection of the social values and attitudes that straight society adhered to. Fuck the rat race. Life could have room to fuck, chill out, create, feel, express, love one another, seek mystical communion, experience reality and get stoned. It was alright. Fuck the Puritanism. It was time for new, more liberal rules.

If anybody is interested in this book I’ll put up the link.

That is the coffee table size.

I’ll do a new publishing at a smaller size which might work out cheaper! I know you’ll be dying to get your hands on it and can’t wait though.

Sixties – My favourite TV from the late sixties.


I wrote up my memories of the sixties in this book. It really catalogues what was going on from my perspective.

I don’t have a great deal of time for TV and I’ve never been avid about too much. When I left home to go to college in 1968 we did not have a TV at all and I did not miss it one bit.

The four programmes I had time for were:

The Prisoner – a series starring Patrick McGoohan. It was a surreal programme set in the most amazing background of Portmerion with its futuristic architecture. It was loosely concerned with a secret agent who tried to resign and a village that he was held prisoner in, guarded by a huge bubble called Rover. He could trust no one and could not escape as they tried to reintegrate him to society. In fact it was an allegory on the pervasive techniques of the establishment. Very rebellious. Roy Harper used it as inspiration for his fabulous McGoohan’s Blues.

Marty Feldman – who had a hour directly after the Prisoner of the zaniest comedy. He was very funny and socially motivated. Unfortunately, after appearing in a couple of Films (The Young Frankenstein being one) he died.

Monty Python’s Flying Circus – always coming from Left-field in the tradition of the Goons.

Not only…. But also Peter Cook and Dudley Moore – another zany and wild comedy act that poked fun at everything.

That’s all I can think of that I got into. Probably some of you can jog my memory on a few more.

Merseybeat – Opher and Mike’s Radio Show – This is our show about everything you need to know about the phenomena of Merseybeat and the start of the Beatles.

I’ve always been a Rock nut and lived through the whole era, bought the singles, the albums but couldn’t afford the T-shirts.

Mike is as nutty as me. He lived through and was a roadie with Free, Bad Company and Robin Trower among others.

We thought we’d do some radio programmes. This is the first. It’s on Merseybeat and the birth of the Beatles. We tried to do it as professionally as possible in a proper studio. We enjoyed doing it. It took forever but it’s come out OK. We think it’s entertaining, informative and full of good music.

Give it a listen and see what you think.

Unfortunately I wasn’t able to download it. WordPress does not support MP3s. I will make the show into a video on You Tube and put the link here. That may take me some time!!

If you have connections to a radio station then we are interested in doing a series of these. We have seventy planned out.

Our next one is Psychedelia



The Sixties and why they were so important!


The sixties was a watershed. Those young people born in the wake of the Second World War with all its death, austerity and destruction were brought up in a drab world of rationing, poverty and greyness.

Somehow they lost their respect for the older generation and their ‘wisdom’.

We were young, free and wanted something more out of life. We did not want more of the same.

Before the war the establishment controlled things. The class system was entrenched and everyone knew their place. Perhaps it was the TV that opened things up. Everyone could see how the other half lived. It was not fair or just.

Kerouac and the Beat generation had revealed a world of kicks, fun and meaning. It seemed a lot more appealing than the vision of a career, boredom, and cleaning the car in suburbia.

I looked at my old man who life was commuting, working and collapsing. He had no fun. I wanted something more. I looked at his boring grey suit and I wanted colour. I looked at the lip-service and hypocrisy of religion and I wanted some meaning to life. I looked at their boring, empty life and I wanted excitement.

That’s what I found in London in the sixties. To stay up all night discussing every aspect of life, infinity and the universe. To discuss politics, revolution, black power, civil rights, equality and freedom. It was alive!

To go to see bands, play music and feel the vibe, hear the message, and be awakened!

We were changing the world and we knew it. We were riding a great zeitgeist of change that was blowing everything before it.

We were bringing in a new age of freedom, fun, meaning, thought, colour, music and equality that was going to blow away the old ethos of class, inequality, greed, selfishness and war.

We thought we could be universal – peace, love and happiness.

Unfortunately the establishment rallied, bought up the shares and sold us our revolution. They took over the music, fashion and even the ethos and pedalled it back to us. We were bought and sold while our own Rock Star heroes bought in to the establishment and became part of the problem.

Still – Greenpeace, Friends of the Earth, Civil Rights, Women’s lib and a host of other liberalising ideas came out of it.

The world’s more colourful but the greed, selfishness, elitism and belligerence still rule.

If you want to hear more check out my book: The Diary of a Sixties Freak.

or check out my other books:


Nick Harper – Nix review

If there was any justice Nick would be a superstar!! He not only is the best acoustic guitarist I have ever seen but has a great voice and writes incredible songs.

There are many reasons why Nick is not a massive commercial success. The main reason is that he is simply too good for the mindless music business and vacuous audience that supports it. He does not play that game.

This then is Nick’s ninth album aptly titled Nix. (If you haven’t fathomed out the reason for the title then this is probably not the album for you).

If you like your Nick Harper raw and unadorned then this might be just up your street. This is Nick with his guitar and a batch of great new songs. They are, as usual, full of intelligence, insight, lyrical ingenuity and melodic beauty.

The album contains a range of styles but all are adorned with the distinctive crispness of that wonderful guitar-work. Nobody can play a guitar like that! The voice soars. The stories unfold. The melodies unfurl.

The mind becomes engaged on many levels as the appreciation of such talent mesmerises you. This is Nick unencumbered by production. His imagination continues to invent on a level rarely achieved by others.

Nick is one of England’s gems. Support him and buy this great album. you won’t regret it! This is another wonderful album!

If you like this you might be interested in my books:


Woody Guthrie – Opher’s World pays tribute to a genius!

Woody Guthrie was the first singer/songwriter to use music as a vehicle for his social and political stances. He set out to use his music to bring about progressive change and in so doing inspired generations of other singers.

Woody opened up a world of possibility, a lodestone of gems to be mined by all who came after.

Whenever there were singers harnessing poetic honesty with heartfelt convictions one could follow a line that harked back to Woody.

Woody stood for equality and justice and put his body where his mouth was. He lived the life, made the friends, stood on the picket lines and fought for what he believed. He put his heart and soul into supporting the unions, racial harmony and social justice. In so doing he set himself against the capitalist system that produce the small number of winners and large bulk of losers. He was for the oppressed, downtrodden, destitute and disenfranchised.

Woody Guthrie

The hundreds of songs that Woody wrote in the 1940s and 1950s still echo down the decades with undiminished power to inspire.

Without Woody there would have been no Dylan and my mind would have been all the poorer.

Where are the people of Woody’s stature, passion and talent to stand up against the monolithic establishment that is presently destroying the planet?

It is not beyond the wit of man to create a fair system whereby we do not have the terrible deprivation in the third world, the poverty, disease and pollution. We have the Technology, Science and Economic power to create a world of greater equality without such overpopulation, environmental destruction and ravaging of wild-life.

If Woody was alive today his songs would be full of the greed and selfishness that is leading to our demise. He would not have sat quietly by while the bankers, businessmen and politicians sell our future for a quick buck. He would have been singing it from the rooftops!

Help produce a positive zeitgeist! Build on Woody’s legacy and let’s start putting it right!


Rock Music – What makes a great song, band or performer?

What is quite clear is that it is not all about talent or ability. Some of the best Rock songs have been very basic, not requiring any great virtuosity, such as ‘Louie Louie’ by the Kingsmen.
Some artists, like Joe Satriani, are so incredibly talented and so technically proficient on the guitar that you can marvel at their skill in much the same way as you would any classical musician yet I find them uninspiring.
The best Rock guitarist I have ever seen (and I’ve had the pleasure of seeing Jimmy Page, Peter Green, Keith Cross, Pete Townsend, Eric Clapton, Rory Gallagher, Paul Kossof, Dave Gilmour and Jack White up close) without a doubt is Jimi Hendrix. Nobody come close. The sounds and melody that Jimi could squeeze out of a guitar were extraordinary. He could make it talk with his elbow better than most good guitarists could with their hands. Jimi would weave in feedback, distortion and effects to create new complex melody that was never boring.
Jimi was the consummate Rock guitarist. His limitations were the extent of his imagination. He could conjure up any sound, feeling or rhythm.
An important element of Rock music is the showmanship and ability to create excitement through the power of performance. When a band like Cream, Free, early Pink Floyd, Stiff Little Fingers, Hendrix, Lee Scratch Perry, The Who, Elvis Costello, Led Zeppelin or White Stripes let rip there was a pulse of energy that surged through the audience and created a synergy of excitement.
Some bands did not rely so much on power as the creation of a mesmerising sound that melted you away to get lost in its complexity and melody such as Traffic, Neil Young and Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young.
Sometimes that power of performance is melded with complexity to create something powerful and mesmeric. The best gigs I have ever experienced were Captain Beefheart and his Magic Band and Jimi Hendrix. Both of them merged the power and drive with complexity and skill into an unbeatable magic.
For me the words have always been an important element. When a truly gifted poet, such as Roy Harper, Leonard Cohen and Bob Dylan, entwine their poetry to music it creates something far greater than the parts. It provides another dimension that engages the intellect as well. That propels the music to greater heights that stimulates the cerebral cortex in a more consuming, and satisfying manner.
I like my Rock having content that makes me think, a social or political thread, a spiritual element, a comment or purpose.
The best acoustic guitarist I have ever seen, from a large field including Davey Graham, Leo Kottke, Bert Jansch, John Fahey, Stefan Grossman and John Renbourn, is undoubtedly Nick Harper. He crafts his incredible guitar skills to varied brilliant songs full of imagery, meaning and love.
Then there are the giants like the Beatles, Rolling Stones and Love who were simply majestic. Or the sheer exuberance of the early Blues of Robert Johnson, Son House, Elmore James, Howlin’ Wolf and Muddy Waters and Rock ‘n’ Rollers such as Chuck Berry, Bo Diddley, Elvis Presley, Little Richard and Jerry Lee Lewis.
I can take my Rock basic and raw or intellectual and profound, depending on my mood, but I like it real, not over-sanitised by the record labels, not reduced to satisfy the lowest common denominator, not processed for mass public consumption, not devoid of content for fear of offending. I want my Rock to challenge. It is not the music of the establishment. It is always the stuff of rebellion. As soon as it is adopted, clichéd or restricted it is dead!

Find out what I think the most essential 537 albums are in my book available on Amazon:

Or read about the story of my life in music:

Or the times when Rock was at its peak in the counter-culture of the sixties:

Rock music has been the backdrop to my life. It has informed my views and philosophy. I am who I am because of it!

Beat Generation, Rock Music to Sci-fi via Alternative Novels, Education, the Environment and Antitheism! There’s a book for everyone!

Many to choose from!!

Solstice is coming.

Take a chance on something different and extraordinary!