Sixties Stuff in the News: Ronnie Biggs, the Manson Murders & Woodstock

Wow, all of the sudden it’s time for 1960s redux!  

First of all, back in the news last week was criminal mastermind and long-time fugitive Ronnie Biggs, whose gang stole approximately £2.6 million from a London mail train in 1963. 

Biggs was caught, but a couple of years after what has since been called The Great Train Robbery, he escaped from prison.  He first fled to Paris, then Australia, then finally made his way to Brazil, where he lived openly for three decades. 

Meanwhile, he became a kind of pop culture, anti-hero icon.  During Biggs’ years in Brazil, for instance, he even recorded vocals on a couple of songs by the popular British band, The Sex Pistols. 

In 2001, Biggs returned to England, was arrested and imprisoned.  In poor health owing to heart disease, British authorities announced Thursday he would be released from prison.

If you’re interested, Greensboro Public Library has a couple of older books about Ronnie Biggs and the Great Train Robbery:  Biggs:  The World’s Most Wanted Man (1975) by Colin Mackenzie, and The Great Train Robbery:  The Incredible Story of a Masterpiece of Modern Crime by John Gosling and Dennis Craig (1965).

Also in the news have been two big 40th anniversaries from 1969:  the Manson Murders and the rock concert called Woodstock.

Just about everybody has of course heard of Charley Manson, his strange hippie cult called “The Family,” and the terrible and senseless Tate-LaBianca Murders which his followers committed.  

In observance of the anniversary of the killings and the continuing fascination with Manson and The Family, CNN ran this story today, and here’s another from MSNBC.  It was also reported within the last week that Squeaky Fromme, a Manson follower who attempted to assassinate President Gerald Ford in 1975, was to be released from prison.

The library has a difficult time keeping its books on Manson, but we do have what is probably the best known, Vincent Bugliosi’s Helter Skelter:  The True Story of the Manson Murders (1974).

Lastly, it was also 40 years ago this August that 100s of thousands of young people descended upon Max Yasgur’s farm in Woodstock, New York, for what was to become the most famous rock concert ever.  Check out this Associated Press story.

Efforts were underway for a 40th anniversary concert, but it seems the show had to be nixed owing to a lack of sponsors.

Back to the Garden:  The Story of Woodstock by Pete Fornatale (2009) and The Road to Woodstock by Michael Lang with Holly George-Warren (2009) have both just been added to the library’s holdings; we also have Woodstock:  Three Days That Rocked the World, edited by Mike Evans and Paul Kingsbury (2009), on order.

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