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The Great Radio Documentaries – “You’ll Never Be Sixteen Again” – Episode 2: 1956-1962 – Past Daily Pop Chronicles.

By the time the 60s rolled around, teenagers were the dominant force in popular culture. World: Look out.

You’ll Never Be Sixteen Again – Episode 2 – 1956-1962 – Narrated by John Peel – 1985 – BBC Radio 1 –

The second installment of this seven part radio series picks up with the meteoric rise of Elvis Presley and the early years of Rock n’ Roll. It’s also interesting that, as the 50s eventually gave way to the 60s, the sheer number of kids coming-of-age would skyrocket. The Baby Boomers, those kids born between the years 1945 and 1965 were joining the ranks of the Teenager and by 1962 they would become the dominant worldwide force in popular culture. They would also become the largest segment of consumers of music, clothes and leisure goods.

And while this series focuses primarily on Teenagers in Britain, the spirit and phenomenon were universal. In Britain alone, there were some 5 million teenagers coming of age from the late 1950s on. And in England, like the States, it was a worrisome threat to those of the older generation, the ones feeling their loss of power and influence over popular culture and values of youth to this bunch of kids who were starting to make demands and to voice opinions, sometimes loudly.

And even though British kids had their own set of teen idols and cultural trappings – the idea that music and fashion were now in the hands of 16 year olds was heady and profound. And on both sides of the Atlantic the media found no shortage of stories and situations to spread alarm that these kids were here, there were a lot of them and they were dangerous. The sentiment that the world as they knew it was being torn apart at the seams was just as evident in Portland as it was in Portsmouth – and it would only get worse.

As in Part One, Part Two continues in the same well-crafted and researched vein in this legendary radio series. The interviews and the audio clips are priceless and if you get past the differences in manner-of-speech and accents, you’ll realize it was the same experience everywhere.

Just wait till The Beatles show up.

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