Hippies and UFOs

The last issue of Fortean Times has a terrific article by Andy Roberts about the hippies' fascination with UFOs and how the bridge formed between flower children in the UK and UFO buffs energized popular interest in strange phenomena. The fire was ignited by a confluence of factors, including the emergence of LSD and the publication of influential books on forteana by John Michell and my friend Jacques Vallee, a computer scientist and lifelong UFO researcher. The Fortean Times article reproduces some magnificent psychedelic artwork of the time, including this poster for London's underground nightclub UFO, illustrated by Hapshash & The Coloured Coat. From Fortean Times:

 Images Front Picture Library Uk Dir 3 Fortean Times 1630 12If music was one way of spreading the flying saucer message through the Underground, then poster art was another powerful method. Artists created lavish posters for even the smallest-scale event, incorporating the myths, signs and symbols of the era with visual images of the music and musicians. Barry Miles recalled: "The symbol of the flying saucer on the posters of Michael English and Nigel Weymouth and the references in all of the songs wasn't just used as a graphic symbol or a convenient lyrical device. People did feel that flying saucers were shorthand for a wider, deeper understanding, a sort of god figure I suppose or a sense of an external spiritual deity of some sort. There was one clothes shop called Hung On You that Michael Rainey had, and he very much believed in flying saucers, and there was a lot of flying saucer imagery all over the shop."

As saucers permeated the hippie subculture, they began to appear more frequently in the underground press. International Times featured many articles and book reviews concerning saucers, engaging John Michell as its 'UFO correspondent'. In the 16 June 1967 issue, it reviewed Anatomy of a Phenomenon, the first UFO book by French scientist and influential ufologist Jacques Vallee. Reviewer Greg Sams used the argot of the period to express what a significant book it was: "Do you believe in flying saucers? Most people with even a slightly open mind accept their existence, if only because so many reliable people have seen them… The book itself doesn't turn you on. You must read the book and turn yourself on…"