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HIPPIEST DAYS OF ALL; Women enjoyed free love and easy living as much as men.

SCOTLAND might not have had a Carnaby Street or a Hyde Park festival - but there was no shortage of hippies here during the heady Summer of Love in 1969.

In their search for the "far out" and the bohemian, these long-haired free spirits descended on the Western Isles in their hundreds.

Today, Jimmy Ross's smart suit and neat hair betray no signs of the man he was in the 60s - a shaggy-haired, flares-wearing drummer in a blues band called The Sleaze Band.

He recalls: "I remember going to Inverness and you couldn't believe the amount of dope and drugs that were there."

Now a respectable 47-year-old picture editor in Edinburgh, he then travelled the country meeting women and enjoying the benefits of a liberated post-Pill generation .

"There was a devil-may-care attitude towards sex," he says. "On Arran, you prayed for rain because then the girls would come out of their tents and in to your hotel for shelter."

Often, he says, the band members would book a room, share a girl and justify their sexual adventures as the spirit of free love.

"The women were starting to feel they had a right to have sex when they wanted, just like men. There were more one-night stands. It was part of the easy way of living."

The Summer of Love really lasted three summers, from The Beatles' Sergeant Pepper in 1967, through Woodstock in 1969, to the death of rock legend Jimi Hendrix in 1970.

But the culture never saturated Glasgow or Edinburgh in the same way as it did English cities.

Richard Findlay, director of research in Scottish History at Strathclyde University, says the social structure of Scotland made it cynical of such airy-fairy radicalism.

He says: "A bigger proportion of Scots were working-class and regarded such hippy stuff as daft.

"People who did get in to it were often middle-class, and the Highlands and islands only attracted hippies because it was a place where they could get away with what they wanted without getting seen."

The Sleaze Band regularly toured London where they saw the differences in the lifestyles between the working-class hippies in the north and the wealthy drop-outs in the south.

"A lot of people would be weekend hippies in Scotland. They would dress in all the headbands and kaftans for two days and go in to work on Monday in a suit," says Jimmy.

"In London they could play at it full-time. They might have been in ripped flares, but they would be the expensive ones from Carnaby Street."

Festivals such as Isle of Wight and Glastonbury were as much a part of being a hippy as clothes, but Scotland had its own. On August 3, 1969, the Daily Record declared "Edinburgh has lost its staid image" when it hosted its first free open-air pop concert for 2500 youngsters.

Gus Mackenzie, 51, a modern studies teacher from Livingston, was more into free thinking than free love. In 1967, he left school and got a job in insurance, but couldn't stand it.

He recalls: "I began growing my hair long and going to poetry readings in my lunch hour."

After Gus enrolled at Edinburgh University to study Economic History, he spent his spare time hitch-hiking to London, buying clothes in Carnaby Street and getting involved in a new era of rebel politics.

He says: "We would protest about trade links to South Africa, and I remember invading the pitch at a Scotland v South Africa rugby match. I was lucky not to be arrested."

But, just like Jimmy, Gus decided to settle down and get respectable. He married, got a teaching job and now has two daughters in their 20s.

Jimmy, now divorced with two adult children, says: "You have to move on. You realise that a hippy life just isn't going to pay the bills."
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Copyright 1999 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:Features
Author:Brown, Annie; Foster, Kate
Publication:Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:Aug 5, 1999
Words:639
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