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British Psychedelic Memorabilia

By: Chris Nickson - Updated: 21 May 2013 | comments*Discuss
Memorabilia Psychedelia Ufo Club

Mention psychedelia and most people think of San Francisco and its hippies in 1967. That was certainly the epicentre of the movement, but Britain enjoyed its own psychedelic era, too.

It was centred in London, and essentially ran from late 1966 until late 1967. It had its own club, the UFO club, and even its own festival, the Technicolor Dream, which ran for 14 hours at Alexandra Palace on April 29, 1967.

The Music

There was plenty of British psychedelic music. The Beatles’ Revolver album is generally acknowledged as the first of the psychedelic albums to come out of England, but it was followed by many others, with the music lasting until 1968.

Psychedelic could be a genre to itself. There was room for rock bands like the successful Crazy World of Arthur Brown or the Pretty Things, as well as obscurities like the Smoke and Tintern Abbey and also for groups that were more on the folk end of the spectrum, such as the Incredible String Band. It was a time when almost anything went musically. To some it was a golden age, and much of the music from the period, especially the obscure releases, has become very collectible.

Much of the music has been reissued on CD, but the value is in the original vinyl. This isn’t so much for the music as the rarity of the LPs and singles. It was a time when much less music was issued, so even the obscure records did receive some airplay, either on the pirate radio stations or in the very early days of Radio 1, which went on the air in September 1967.

The unknown ones simply didn’t sell, and some, quite frankly, weren’t very good. Time and rarity has given them a reputation and made them desirable, especially before CD reissues when only a few people had heard them.


Apart from records the main area of British psychedelia memorabilia is in posters. A couple achieved some commercial success, selling many copies of the time. Those two, of Jimi Hendrix and Arthur Brown, can still be found occasionally, although at collectors’ prices.

The other posters that are sought after by people collecting British psychedelia artefacts are from concerts. Although not as elaborate as those created on the West Coast of America in the period, these posters do have flair, style and colour.

The difficulty is finding them. Whereas American posters were saved and treasured, British posters generally weren’t. In part, this is because they were pasted on to walls, so they couldn’t be retrieved in one piece. Doing everything on a budget meant that there usually weren’t extra posters to keep or sell. Those that remain were carefully kept but there are very few of them. Although there have been reproductions of earlier posters, usually involving the Beatles, there have never been copies made of psychedelic era posters, mostly because the large demand has never been there.

Other Items

As this was a simpler age, the psychedelic era...there was no merchandising. Several books covered “Swinging” London and dipped their toes into the waters of the era, but outside of that there’s very little besides the music paper.

There are two that are worth collecting to document the times. Both Melody Maker and New Musical Express interviewed and reviewed the bands. Internet auction sites are the places to find vintage issues, along with Fabulous 208, the magazine of Radio Luxembourg.

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