What Happened to the Hippies?


I have to confess that I have always wanted to be a hippie. I am drawn to the free feeling and peacefulness that hippies represent. Although I dress in modern clothes, I once had a friend tell me out of the blue that I should have been a hippie, she said that I radiated a kind of peaceful earthiness that made her think of a hippie. Although I did grow up in the 70’s, I was too young at the time be a hippie. I always felt connected to what a hippie represented though, and to me this meant peace, love, unity and some cool threads. In actuality there was more to being a hippie, including drugs like LSD and marijuana, communal living and radical political beliefs.

I have often wondered where hippies originated; what happened to them and whether their counterculture has had a lasting effect on the world.

Origin of Hippies

Here is what I learned; hippies of the 60’s most likely originated from a group that first emerged in Germany between 1896 and 1908 when a youth group began to reject organized social and cultural clubs that centered on German Folk music. Instead they encouraged amateur music, creative dress, communal living and outdoor activities like camping and hiking. Inspired by the works of Friedrich Nietzsche, Goethe, Hermann Hesse, and Eduard Baltzer this group, called “Wandervogel” (migratory bird), attracted thousands of young Germans who rejected the rapid trend toward urbanization and yearned for the pagan, back-to-nature spiritual life of their ancestors. During the early 1900’s the Wandervogel settled around the United States bringing these values with them. Many Wandervogel were attracted to California where they could follow their lifestyle in a warm climate.

Members of the Wandervogel
Members of the Wandervogel | Source

What was the Hippy Ideology?

Over time, groups of American youth adopted the beliefs and practices of the Wandervogel and these groups grew in numbers. These groups would gain popularity and come to be called hippies. Both the words "hip" and "hep" come from Black culture and denote awareness. To say, "I'm hip to the situation,” means, "I am aware of the situation." Thus the word "hippie" means "one who is aware," and expanded awareness was a goal of the movement.

These groups of hippies continued to grow in numbers especially in San Francisco and New York’s Greenwich Village. It was during this time that hippies as a counterculture movement began to:

  • reject established institutions
  • criticize middle class values
  • oppose nuclear weapons and the Vietnam War
  • embrace aspects of Eastern philosophy such as Buddhism, meditation and yoga
  • champion sexual liberation
  • follow a vegetarian and eco-friendly way of life
  • promote the use of psychedelic drugs, which they believed expanded one's consciousness, and created intentional communities or communes
  • use alternative arts, street theatre, folk music, and psychedelic rock as a part of their lifestyle and as a way of expressing their feelings, their protests and their vision of the world and life
  • oppose political and social orthodoxy, choosing a gentle and nondoctrinaire ideology that favored peace, love and personal freedom

What happened to the hippies from the 60’s?

While many hippies made a long-term commitment to the lifestyle, others "sold out" during the 1980s and became part of the materialist, consumer culture. Hippies may still be found in bohemian enclaves around the world, while others settled down to have families but remained true to the hippie ideology through their lifestyle choices and community involvement. We have all benefited from the positive effects of this era.

The bumper reads "flash backs happen"
The bumper reads "flash backs happen" | Source

Drug side effects

Let’s not however, forget the drugs that were an integral part of the hippie culture for many but not all hippies. These drugs had negative side effects and could even result in death. Sadly, many musicians of that era died from using drugs, some of these include:

Jimi Hendrix died of a barbiturate overdose. Janis Joplin died from a heroine, alcohol and valium overdose. Jim Morrison died of a heart attack brought on by heroine use. Who drummer Keith Moon, Rolling Stones guitarist Brian Jones, Grateful Dead guitarist and singer Jerry Garcia all died from drugs or complications caused by chronic drug use.

The first successful female rock singer, Janis Joplin, died at the age of 27 from a heroin overdose.
The first successful female rock singer, Janis Joplin, died at the age of 27 from a heroin overdose. | Source

What remains today? 

Lasting Effects of the Hippies

Laws that protect the environment became part of the U.S. Government and global agenda. Earth day, the Green Movement and concern about a person’s carbon footprint all have roots in the hippie culture. Interest in organic food, herbal remedies and vitamins all go back to this time. Due to the hippie movement we now have acceptance of multiple personal lifestyle choices including acceptance of unmarried couples, rights of homosexual, bisexual and transsexuals. Frankness regarding sexual matters also originates with this movement. Hippies, like their Wandervogel predecessors, encouraged a wide range of clothing options that live on today. The option for men to wear mustaches, beards and long hair was not only a fashion statement, but a form of rebellion against the norms and expectations of society, and has remained acceptable due to the hippie movement. Many people now attend free music festivals. The open access to information that the Internet offers is also believed to stem from Hippie influences. Websites like Napster, which offered music for free to all, and Wikileaks, which promotes government transparency all, share a connection to the hippie influence and mindset.

Interest in organic produce has roots in the hippie era
Interest in organic produce has roots in the hippie era | Source

The Legacy of Hippie Style

The legacy of Hippie style is alive and well. I am often amazed at how the looks of this era seem to come back year after year. The fashion of the time signified rebellion to authority and a feeling of living simply. Many of the clothes were hand made. Today we can see many celebrities and fashion designers following the legacy of hippie styles. There seems to be a lingering connection to the psyche of the hippie era, which is reflected in the clothes still being worn today. Some catalogs that that sell these styles include Free People and Sundance Catalog. 'Boho' is the updated term used to describe the hippie look today.

Hippie Sayings

  • Tune in, turn on!
  • America, Love it or Leave it.
  • Get it? Got it! Good!
  • Flower Power
  • Far out
  • Drop acid not bombs
  • Don’t be part of the problem, be part of the solution.
  • Far out man
  • Peace
  • Love the one you’re with
  • Peace out bro
  • Groovy

Hippie Music Then and Now

The explosion of music during the hippie era was like none other. There were many great musicians that wrote meaningful heartfelt songs that offered a strong message and emotional connection to the listener. Writer, Skip Stone states, in his book Hippies A to Z “These songs had an impact on the consciousness of not just hippies but all society. Some of these songs also broke new ground musically. One way or another they hit us deeply, made us think, made us dream, made us feel as one people” Some critics believe that the music world has not produced song writers and musicians of the same caliber since. It is a testament to the long lasting effect of the message and music of this time that we still listen to many of the songs today. (see more about hippie music today)

Bob Dylan singing "Blowin' in the Wind" which became an anthem for the US civil rights and anti-war movements

Woodstock, A famous hippie rock festival

© 2011 Tracy Lynn Conway

Comments 36 comments

vissitor profile image

vissitor 5 years ago from Sonoma Valley, California

Very informative and interesting perspective. Lots to think about. Thank you.

RC Ramli profile image

RC Ramli 5 years ago

Cool hub. Thanks for sharing!

Tracy Lynn Conway profile image

Tracy Lynn Conway 5 years ago from Virginia, USA Author


I am so glad that you liked it! There IS a lot to think about, it is a vast topic. Thank you.

Tracy Lynn Conway profile image

Tracy Lynn Conway 5 years ago from Virginia, USA Author

RC Ramli,

Thank you!

A Quadfather profile image

A Quadfather 5 years ago from .

Well composed and insightful. I grew up around that era. I believe it was a phase that most grew out of. Gr8 piece!

Karanda profile image

Karanda 5 years ago from Australia

Many of my friends confessed to being hippies but I was torn between two worlds. Great research and well put together.

Tracy Lynn Conway profile image

Tracy Lynn Conway 5 years ago from Virginia, USA Author

A Quadfather,

It does seem that many grew out of the phase but the effects of this time live on. Thank you!


I have heard of other people of this hippie generation feeling torn at the time between two worlds, this was especially in regards to drug use. Thank you so much!

alocsin profile image

alocsin 5 years ago from Orange County, CA

I think the hippies just got old and had children. Well-done.

laral profile image

laral 5 years ago from England

Wow!! Really well research hub! I was too young to be a hippy but I love the style and the music even if I was 10 at that time.

Tracy Lynn Conway profile image

Tracy Lynn Conway 5 years ago from Virginia, USA Author


Thank you!


Thank you, I thoroughly enjoyed doing the research for this hub and there is so much information out there. It seems you and I share the hippie spirit.

jponiato profile image

jponiato 5 years ago from Mid-Michigan

A great hub, well researched as others have pointed out. I'm just a tad older than you, and grew up in the 60s and 70s. My Mom had very distinct hippie tendencies. My stepfather - all cowboy. You might say I had the best of 2 worlds.

I'd say the world is ripe for a resurgence of hippie ideals and lifestyles - perhaps with a more tempered and mature attitude towards drug use. Thanks for a very interesting read.

healthp profile image

healthp 5 years ago

interesting topic, nice hub

Tracy Lynn Conway profile image

Tracy Lynn Conway 5 years ago from Virginia, USA Author

@Jponiato- That must have been so fun to experience these two worlds while growing up. This exposure must have given you a unique perspective on life and perhaps a broad mind.

I think resurgence of hippie ideals would help to bring a balance and take us away from the consumer driven mind set, it is nice to think of. I am glad you enjoyed the hub. Thank you! BTW, I am sorry for my delayed response, I just noticed your comment today.

@Healthp- Thank you, I am glad you enjoyed it!

YoungPhilosopher8 profile image

YoungPhilosopher8 5 years ago from Dublin,Ireland

I consider myself a modern hippy, free at heart and mind but I just don't dress hippyish . they looked like the days and thank "god" for them days.. good hub

Tracy Lynn Conway profile image

Tracy Lynn Conway 5 years ago from Virginia, USA Author

@YoungPhilosopher8 - I love how you describe yourself as "free at heart and mind." I thoroughly enjoyed writing this hub and now I get the bonus of finding kindred spirits that can relate. Thank you! ~Peace out bro~

YoungPhilosopher8 profile image

YoungPhilosopher8 5 years ago from Dublin,Ireland

Peace out sister :) keep up the well written articles .

Jason 4 years ago

Hippies are alive and well. I have many hippie friends of all ages. Hippie music is also still thriving. Nothing better than camping with 50000 hippies at a music festival for four days!!

Tracy Lynn Conway profile image

Tracy Lynn Conway 4 years ago from Virginia, USA Author

Hi Jason, so good to hear your fist hand experience! The hippie culture IS alive and well, I agree. This article relates more to the hippies of the 1960's, what happened to them as they aged and what impact they had on society.

Best, Tracy

Ciel Clark profile image

Ciel Clark 4 years ago from USA

Interesting read... I just posted a hub on growing up in a teepee with hippie parents. Read it and tell me what you think! Some of the things you wrote--especially the ideology--really reminded me of my childhood. Thanks, CC

akeejaho profile image

akeejaho 4 years ago from Some where in this beautiful world!

Great Hub, from an old hippie! If you really want to know where the hippies went, you won't have to look far. Most have settled in Southwest Oregon. I know, because I just came back from there. There lives the movement in all it's glory. I even spent a season working an organic garden that covered more than two acres. Far out, huh?

In fact, the land owner was a rather famous surfer from back in the day who now has his own business selling organic products at the farmers markets in Ashland.

Peace, love and light.


Tracy Lynn Conway profile image

Tracy Lynn Conway 4 years ago from Virginia, USA Author

Akeejaho, I really love hearing about your experience and it brings such a great energy to my article. I suppose even the former hippies that have been living a more modern life dream of joining up with you and your friends in Oregon. Organic farming is such a fantastic outcome from hippie era.

Akeejaho is such a great name!

Peace, love and light to you too.


jeanneCorvan 4 years ago

Execellent article. One thing to keep in mind is that baby boomer hippies have started reaching age 65. This generation has changed every life stage. We did everything differently and now there is one final stage for them to complete.

Just as we marched in the streets and created (really recreated) alternative styles of living, so now we have to rekindle that desire for change. The government is going to want to cut our social security and medicate. Would we in 1969 have allowed that to happen without a fight. We are going to have to take to the streets.

We have got to change the meaning of old and fight for a decent standard of living -- considering all the great things we did to change society -- women- people of color- Gays - Native Americans - Chicanos -- we made groups that where taught to feel inferior to stand up and be proud. Let's do it again for society's "senior citizens" and we've got to find a better term than that for us flower children and social activists, don't you think?

Richard 4 years ago

I am of that age... Now at 56 I look back and realize that I hit the wall and gave up, instead of running thru it. It seemed there was no way to turn the clock back, create a better world unless I became part of the problem in order to get get ahead and do something. Now I look around and see that my generation has made the world so much worse; more people, industry and now the developing countries want to be like us. I am wondering what we can do now. The generation that knew a better way and lost heart.

Tracy Lynn Conway profile image

Tracy Lynn Conway 4 years ago from Virginia, USA Author

JeanneCorvan - Yes, the term "senior citizens" does seem negative, it certainly does not denote the beauty and wisdom that age can can bring. Other cultures have a great deal more respect for the older generations. There was a great deal of unprecedented change thanks to the Hippies, I think more than following generations realize. It was thanks to powerful, spunky people like yourself. Thank you for an amazing comment!

Best, Tracy

Richard - Maybe as you say "the generation that knew a better way has lost heart." While in some ways I see positive influences on our society due to the effect of the hippie generation there did seem to be a huge societal swing away from some core hippie values not long after. Some of the same people that were wearing the hippie garb simply put on a suit and seemed to forgot what they stood for. Thank you for a great comment!

Best, Tracy

watergeek profile image

watergeek 4 years ago

Woohoo! I'm 62, the oldest of 8 kids. Four of my brothers play guitar, one plays percussion instruments. We all sing and harmonize the oldies when we get together.

I joined the Peace Corps twice, got my masters in natural resources development, taught for awhile, then worked in water conservation. Now I'm writing about sustainability and all things water.

The hippy world was awesome (except the drugs). I love seeing your take on it and all the positive changes that have resulted from it. Thank you for this article!

Tracy Lynn Conway profile image

Tracy Lynn Conway 4 years ago from Virginia, USA Author

Watergeek - I am thrilled to hear about your life and how you did not "sell out" but rather stood true to your convictions. Caring for the earth has got to be both a rewarding job for you and one with lasting beneficial effects, I applaud you. I hope you continue on with being an earth steward.

It seems you and I share some commonality. I also love to play guitar, sing and have worked for a few peace corps type organizations and also as an environmental science teacher, maybe that proves I was born in the wrong era.

It is great to pause and reflect on the benefits of the hippie era and realize how much we take for granted from this unique period in history. Thank you very much!

Best, Tracy

Sanxuary 3 years ago

I knew so many hippies growing up and sadly they sold out. The 1980's is what destroyed the movement. Everyone became a consumer and the devil got them. In every movement you always got frauds, like all those tea baggers. Still a lot of them just got greedy and went to the dark side of consumer stupidity. Selfishness was more important but there is a whole new culture slowly happening. A whole class of people who are tired of being powerless and having this World dictate their lives.

AudreyHowitt profile image

AudreyHowitt 3 years ago from California

There was also a huge folk music revival then--and like most old hippies--I think we are all still around doing our thing!

Tracy Lynn Conway profile image

Tracy Lynn Conway 3 years ago from Virginia, USA Author

Sanxuary - I have met many of the type of hippies that you describe, the ones that sold out and just seemed to go along for the ride. The consumer culture does seem to be out of control, with little to stop it. Thank you for your thoughtful comment!

Best, Tracy

Audrey - Yes, music played a big part in the hippie movement. The movement began by the Wondervogel, which played German folk music and sparked a revolution.

Glad to hear that some of the hippies are still around.

Cheers, Tracy

watergeek profile image

watergeek 3 years ago

The "hippies" that sold out are the same ones that were "going along for the ride" during the '60s. They were out for the fun of it and the drugs. The rest of us who meant it didn't take them seriously, even then. The media, unfortunately, lumped us all together.

Tracy Lynn Conway profile image

Tracy Lynn Conway 3 years ago from Virginia, USA Author

Watergeek - Very good point!


MikeyPete 2 years ago from Harrisburg Pa

I've seen some of our younger people practicing some of the hippie lifestyle but not exactly as we know it. Look at the Occupy movement. Anti war, anti government, anti big corporations, etc. I've been to some of their Really Really Free Markets which is sharing or giving what they no longer want or need and skill sharing. Food not Bombs which involves a promoting of a portion of money spent on the military going to feeding the poor.

Tracy Lynn Conway profile image

Tracy Lynn Conway 2 years ago from Virginia, USA Author

Mikey, you point out some excellent examples of how the hippie mindset and action based philosophy continues on. Great comment!

Best, Tracy

MizBejabbers profile image

MizBejabbers 7 months ago

What happened to the hippies? One of their favorite sayings was “don’t trust anyone over 30.” They grew up and realized they’d passed 30 and couldn’t be trusted. LoL. I lived during the hippie movement and the only thing that kept me from being one was a square husband with a pointed head. Very good hub.

You did, however, leave out the fact that they evolved from the Beat Generation of Post-WWII and the 1950s. I remember in high school dressing up as a Beatnik with the heavy eye liner and black tight Capri pants. I love the colorful clothing of the hippies and think it is much more fun to wear – the little granny glasses, too. I still have my gold-plated ones, and the quality is much better than glass frames of today.

I think the best music came from the hippie movement. I agree that the music of today doesn’t have the depth that my generation had. So, hopefully, Trump and his squares will fade out and the hippies will come back. Today reminds me too much of my ex-husband, and that is why he is my ex.

fpherj48 profile image

fpherj48 7 months ago from Beautiful Upstate New York

Tracy.....Another Boomer piping in! If you have always wanted to be a "Hippie," I say Go for it! It was a wonderful era. Every now & then I will still run into individuals who have flatly refused to LET GO. They continue to be Hippies at heart and it doesn't seem to cause them any harm!.........Have fun...Oh and "Peace Out.".......Paula

kjb 5 months ago

this is a good i really liked it.

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