Saturday, January 19, 2008


In preparing the birthday invite for my darling partner's 40th birthday yesterday - I did a little research on what went on in 1968. It was quite interesting (to say the least). I had forgotten how much I love researching stuff - and how bloody carried away I get with it. Not all of it will e used for the invite so I thought I would post it all here rather than let all of that work go to waste.

Each Saturday until his birthday (2nd March) I'll spend Saturday going into a little more detail of something more obscure or less known about the year that was the beginning for my beloved. If you have any particulare requests (that pique your interest from this list) let me know and I'll endeavour to write about it.

So here goes ...

1968 is a year of sex, drugs and rock and roll, the emergence of the ‘generation gap’, of riots, protests, war and power struggles.

Three and a half billion people live on the planet. The first Big Mac goes on sale and man orbits the moon for the first time. The Boeing 747 makes its maiden flight and the first ATM is installed by the First Philedelphia Bank. Amniocentisis is pioneered and the first ever heart transplant is performed in South Africa.

Students are involved in violent anti war and race protests across Europe, North and South America. Nine million workers strike across France and bring the country to a halt and Russian tanks roll into Czeckzolvakia crushing the Prague Spring uprising and re-establishing communist rule. Women’s Liberation groups protest at the Miss America Beauty pageant and 23 African nations boycott the Summer Olympics due to the inclusion of South Africa. It is also the year of the Tet offensive, the My Lai massacre in Vietnam and the Hong Kong Flu pandemic. Richard Nixon is voted President of the USA.

Pop artist Andy Warhol is shot in his loft, the rock musical ‘Hair’ opens on Broadway and at the Newport Folk Festival singer Arlo Guthrie performs his 20 minute ballad "Alice's Restaurant" to rave reviews. Dave Gimour joins Pink Floyd replacing founder Syd Barrett, Cream play their farewell concert at the Royal Albert Hall and Led Zepplin perform for the first time. Jimi Hendrix releases Electric Ladyland, Johnny Cash ‘At Folsom Prison’ and the Beatles ‘White Album’. The Grammy for best song goes to Simon and Garfunkel’s ‘Mrs Robinson” and Dione Warwick wins the the Best Female Grammy. Cream, The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, The Doors, Otis Redding, Steppenwolf, Donovon, Tom Jones, Mama Cass, The Monkees and Status Quo are all receiving airplay. James Taylor, Joni Mitchell and Deep Purple’s all begin musical careers.

At the movies Oliver receives the Oscar for best picture, with best actress going to Barbara Streisand. Also released this year are Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, Funny Girl, Rosemary’s Baby, Planet of the Apes, the Thomas Crown Affair, 2001: A Space Odessy, Valley of the Dolls, The Graduate, Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner and the Green Berets.

On the small screen Gilligans Island, The Monkees, Star Trek, I Dream of Jeanie, Dr Who, Petticoat Junction, The Avengers, Get Smart, Bonanza, Hawaii Five-O, Land of the Giants and Here’s Lucy continue their runs and the funky Mod Squad airs for the first time.

In literature William Styron’s The Confessions of Nat Turner wins the Pulitzer Prize, Nobel Prize for Literature goes to Japanese author Yasunari Kawabata and Thomas Keneally wins the Miles Franklin award with Three Cheers for Paraclete. Dean Koontz publishes his first novel, Phillip K Dick writes Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep, Alexander Solzhenitsyn releases Cancer Ward and The First Circle and the contentious Chariots of the Gods? is written by Erich von Däniken.

In Australia the population reaches 12 million. The town of Meckering in WA is badly damaged in an earth quake. Mail delivery goes from two deliveries a day to one, Ansett ANA is renamed Ansett and a referendum in Tasmania paves the way for the granting of the first casino license to Wrest Point Hotel. In NSW the Breathalyser is used for the first time, Sydney’s water is fluoridated and the first heart transplant in Australia is performed at St Vincent’s Hospital.

Prime Minister Harold Holt goes missing, presumed drowned and John Gorton becomes Prime Minister. In Queensland Joh Bjelke-Petersen begins his reign. India's first female Prime Minister Indira Ghandi visits Australia, as does the Duke of Edinburgh. In July almost 100 people are arrested for Anti Vietnam protests in both Melbourne and Sydney, joining hundreds of thousands of others protesting across the world (though no one is shot or killed here).

The Winter and Summer Olympics are held and Australia wins five gold medals in Mexico City. Rod Laver wins Wimbledon, South Sydney beat Manly-Warringbah, Carlton defeat Essendon before a record crowd at the MCG, Western Australia win the Sheffield Shield, Bruce McPhee and Barry Mulholland win Bathurst 500 in Holden Monaro GTS327 and Rain Lover wins the Melbourne Cup.

The Seekers are named Australians of the Year and members of the Who and Small Faces are escorted from a plane at Essendon airport after an unscheduled landing due to bad behaviour. John Farnham, Doug Parkinson, Zoot, Masters Apprentices, the Bee Gees, Ronnie Burns, The Executives and the Easy Beats grace the charts. Bandstand with Brian Henderson, The Bell Birds and Play School are our home grown small screen hits.

The world loses Martin Luther King, Robert Kennedy, Helen Keller, poet Dorothea McKellar, British comedian Tony Hancock and author John Steinbeck. In the same year Celine Dion, Guy Ritchie, Riki Lake, Owen Wilson, Kylie Minogue, Hugh Jackman, Rachael Griffiths, Duncan Armstrong, Julian McMahon, Eric Bana and Lisa Marie Presley are born ... oh and my darling partner David Harris!


Surcie said...

And me, too! I really enjoy reading about the pop culture of the year I was born. Happy Birthyear to David!

Anonymous said...

What a fabulous year... it has been an interesting read to me too as a trans-Tasman fellow 68er!

Happy Birthyear to Dave indeed!

Love, Rach xxxooo

Smiler said...

That was really cool! I'm born in 69 so it's all part of the same vibe, though the details are different of course. I love doing research too. This must have been a fun project for you. Can't think of anything for you to research right now... but I can suggest you come by my blog to see what's waiting for you there...

Corina said...

Wow! This was an excellent walk down memory lane. I hesitate to say that I remember a lot of this. I was 12 when 1968 arrived. I remember walking home from school to find my mother crying because MLK had been killed. It was my mother's birthday that day (April 4th). And I remember being allowed to stay up to see the election returns on the night that Bobby Kennedy was killed. I was watching on TV.

So much of this is an actual memory to me, not just something I read about in a history book. It was good to remember, even if it means I'm old!

Square1 said...

Unfortunately all of this was before my time, but I remember hearing about so many of these events. Thank you for compiling them into one post. Here come March I may do soemthing similar for my birth year, though I imagine most of that will leave people laughing and saying, "Good grief, what WERE we thinking?" instead of mourning the loss of wonderful historical figures and artists.