Many thanks to the late Felix Dennis (right) who allowed us to use images from his collection
What a long, strange trip it’s been! It has been well over 50 years since the first energetic green shoots of hippiedom scared the living hell out of the establishment in America, Britain, and many other places across the world. And in the intervening half century, all sorts of things have changed, not necessarily for the better.
Richard Neville was the enfant terrible of Australian satire and had been publishing a magazine called Oz for some years. He followed the hippy trail and ended up in London, where he announced that he was going to be starting a UK edition of the magazine. This he did. London Oz (as it was originally known) was a very different kettle of fish to its Australian predecessor. But London in 1967 was a very different place to Sydney in 1963, and although the Australian magazine had been busted for obscenity on a number of occasions, it was nothing compared to the establishment-baiting antics of the London magazine. Some of what appears in the magazine – it’s obsession with pornography for example, and the images of children – sit uncomfortably with our 21st century sensibilities. Although we abhor censorship on principle, a few images have been obscured in this series of new collected editions, which we have compiled exclusively for Gonzo Multimedia. But, rest assured, the notorious Rupert Bear pictures from Oz 28 remain in all their controversial glory.
Oz actually achieved a cultural status far above what it would have deserved purely upon its content. The idea of the magazine was far more important than the magazine itself, and I like to think that it was an unruly snowball which, over the decades, gathered momentum to be the progenitor of all alternative publishing, in the UK at least over the past half century. Despite the fact that it was often puerile and smutty, if it hadn’t been for Oz, magazines like our very own Gonzo Weekly would not have come into being.