When Hippies Overtook The Great White Way

Billed as the “The American Tribal Love-Rock Musical”, Hair made an immediate and far-reaching impact outside of Broadway.

NOTE: This program contains language and subject matter not suitable for all audiences.

Racism. The Vietnam War. Rejection of uptight sexual mores. Nudity. Profanity. Simulating open drug use. Hippies and the counterculture. This was definitely not your parent’s Broadway musical.

It was the brainchild of composers and actors James Rado and Gerome Ragni. Galt McDemont completed the music.

The poster used for the Broadway production of Hair, which made it immediately stand out from anything Rogers and Hammerstein ever created. Steven Curry is the model. Design by Ruspoli-Rodriguez.

Starting off as an off-Broadway experimental theatre experience, Hair debuted in 1967 with a very strange plot: An extra-terrestrial comes to Earth with aspirations of becoming a film director. When the production altered the plot and re-worked the songs without aliens, Hair seemed like a truly odd concept: people who would probably never be seen on a Broadway stage, talking about the issues of the day, walking out naked, using language and subject matter not suitable for mainstream broadcast media and even inviting the audience to join in at the end.

It should have failed miserably.

Ronnie Dyson, 1969. Photo courtesy of Columbia Records.

Instead, it’s boldness shocked many, and the general public ate it up. It spent 13, yes, THIRTEEN weeks at #1 on the Billboard LP chart, despite never releasing a single from the album; it also went on to sell three million copies, feats only The Beatles could match at that time. It was the last Broadway cast album to achieve the pole position and also won a Grammy Award for Best Score from a Broadway Production in 1969. Interestingly, many of the songs from the album were covered by other artists, giving them major hits around the world, including Nina Simone, The Cowsills, Oliver, Three Dog Night and The 5th Dimension.

“The draft is white people sending black people to fight yellow people to protect the country they stole from the red people.”

George Ragni, writer/co-Creator, hair, 1968

The original production didn’t receive a single Tony award, but it didn’t matter, as Hair became a cultural phenomenon almost overnight, with numerous other revivals still being performed around the world to this day.

The cast of Hair, 1969. In addition to its many groundbreaking achievements, it was also the first Broadway production to use an almost entirely very young (under 21) cast.(Courtesy Playbill)

Of the original Broadway production, many of the stars would continue success in various mediums. Ronnie Dyson went on to have a steady career as a hitmaker during the 1970’s. Understudy Diane Keaton went on to win the Best Actress Oscar for Annie Hall in 1977 and musician Paul Jabara would win an Oscar for Best Original Song for “Last Dance”, sung by Donna Summer, in 1978.

This program will be approximately 30 minutes in length, featuring tracks from both the Broadway and Off-Broadway productions of the musical.

First Part

  • Aquarius, 1969, Hair (Broadway Production), lead: Ronnie Dyson
  • Ain’t Got No, 1967, Hair (Off-Broadway Production), leads: Walker Daniels, Gerome Ragni, Steve Dean and Arnold Wilkerson
  • I Got Life, 1967, Hair (Off-Broadway Production), lead: Marijane Maricle and Walker Daniels
  • Colored Spade, 1969, Hair (Broadway Production), Lamont Washington
  • Hair, 1969, Hair (Broadway Production), leads: James Rado and Gerome Ragni
  • Easy To Be Hard, 1969, Hair (Broadway Production), lead: Lynn Kellog
  • Three-Five-Zero-Zero, 1969, Hair (Broadway Production), cast
  • Exanaplanetootch, 1967, Hair (Off-Broadway Production), lead: Walker Daniels
  • The Climax, 1967, Hair (Off-Broadway Production), lead: Jill O’Hara


  • The Flesh Failures (Let The Sunshine In), 1969, Hair (Broadway Production), leads: James Rado, Lynn Kellogg and Melba Moore

Love to you all.

Ben “Daddy Ben Bear” Brown Jr. 
Host, Show Producer, Webmaster, Audio Engineer, Researcher, Video Promo Producer and Writer

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