‘Easy Rider’ at 50: How They Put Together that Groundbreaking Soundtrack

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Perhaps the ultimate road movie, 1969’s smash hit “Easy Rider,” with Peter Fonda, left, and Dennis Hopper, ushered in an era of youth-oriented studio films. (Columbia Pictures)

Reprinted from The Los Angeles Times by Tim Greiving on August 9, 2019.

A trip to the local theater will throw you back in time to 1969 Hollywood. Quentin Tarantino’s latest, Once Upon a Time … in Hollywood, is a movie full of references to hippies and the counterculture, set to a rock ’n’ roll jukebox soundtrack of its era.

Fifty years ago, Easy Rider not only helped define the counterculture — with its frank depiction of drugs and free love, of “longhairs” squared against square culture — it also revolutionized the movie soundtrack, rejecting a traditional orchestra in favor of a hip “song score.”

Conceived by its stars, Peter Fonda and Dennis Hopper, along with Dr. Strangelove co-writer Terry Southern, Easy Rider railed against institutions both on screen and behind the camera. Two drug-pushing hippies ride their motorcycles across America, picking up hitchhikers, stopping at communes and brushing with the law until they reach their ill-fated end in the Deep South. …

“And we kept listening and culling, and listening and culling, and finally getting to the point where we had really worked out, over a long period of time, the music that we felt would be appropriate,” says Easy Rider editor Donn Cambern. …

LA Times 8/9

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About Jeffrey Burman 5154 Articles
Jeff Burman served on the Guild’s Board of Directors from 1992 to 2019. He is now retired. He can be reached at jeffrey.s.burman.57@gmail.com.

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