Hippies were a phenomenon of the 1960s.
“When people in the early 2000s think about the 1960s, they might think first about the ‘hippies,’ ” suggests the widely used online educational company Gale. Likewise, the Princeton Review’s SAT guidebook prompts students: “Think about the 1960s. What comes to mind? Maybe it’s the Beatles, dancing hippies, and Vietnam.” Hippies might be the most famous symbol of the 1960s; after all, they emerged in the middle of that decade.
But they didn’t really hit their stride until the early 1970s, when their numbers and influence peaked. The hippies’ drug subculture in the 1960s became youth pop culture in the ’70s; issues of the stoner magazine High Times, founded in 1974, sold hundreds of thousands of copies. Rock-androll, once seen as a frivolous hobby for teenagers, became a serious art form, and publications such as Rolling Stone became national tastemakers. And a quick perusal of nearly any high school yearbook well into the late ’70s shows that long hair became standard for teenage boys across the country. Even some of the male teachers had shaggy cuts. Google Books’ Ngram Viewer reveals the trajectory of America’s fascination with the counterculture: The frequency of the term “hippies” peaked in books in 1971 and stayed above 1967 levels until 1977.