Penny Rimbaud is a writer, poet, philosopher, painter, musician and activist. He was a former member of the performance art groups EXIT and Ceres Confusion, and in 1972 was cofounder with Phil Russell (aka Wally Hope) of the Stonehenge Free Festivals. In 1977, alongside Steve Ignorant, he cofounded the seminal anarchist punk band Crass, which disbanded in 1984. From that time up until 2000 he devoted himself almost entirely to writing, returning to the public platform in 2001 as a performance poet working alongside Australian saxophonist Louise Elliott and a wide variety of jazz musicians under the umbrella of Penny Rimbaud's Last Amendment.
The Last of the Hippies: An Hysterical Romance
Author: Penny Rimbaud
Publisher: PM Press
Page count: 128
First published in 1982 as part of the Crass record album Christ: The Album, Penny Rimbaud's The Last of the Hippies is a fiery anarchist polemic centered on the story of his friend, Phil Russell (aka Wally Hope), who was murdered by the State while incarcerated in a mental institution.
Wally Hope was a visionary and a freethinker, whose life had a profound influence on many in the culture of the UK underground and beyond. He was an important figure in what may loosely be described as the organization of the Windsor Free Festival from 1972 to 1974, as well providing the impetus for the embryonic Stonehenge Free Festival.
Wally was arrested and incarcerated in a mental institution after having been found in possession of a small amount of LSD. He was later released, and subsequently died. The official verdict was that Russell committed suicide, although Rimbaud uncovered strong evidence that he was murdered. Rimbaud’s anger over unanswered questions surrounding his friend's death inspired him in 1977 to form the anarchist punk band Crass.
In the space of seven short years, from 1977 to their breakup in 1984, Crass almost single-handedly breathed life back into the then moribund peace and anarchist movements. The Last of the Hippies fast became the seminal text of what was then known as anarcho-punk and which later blossomed into the anti-globalization movement.
This revised edition comes complete with a new introduction in which Rimbaud questions some of the premises that he laid down in the original.
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The Last of the Hippies: A Review
March 5th, 2016
...What is hugely interesting is Rimbaud’s new introductory piece. It carries particular weight for those who already know what the core text concerns as Rimbaud mentions he is greatly embarrassed by his then-belief in the power of Rock ‘n’ Roll as a force of change. He also states that throughout his life he has swung between the pacifist stance that the original text represented (which ran in parallel to the stance of CRASS) and a more militant form of activism, which is where he currently sits. There’s definitely a sense of self-analysis and progression in this new piece.
The contrast between the two narratives makes for great reading, especially for those who think of CRASS as more than just a band and realise the power their songs could wield in a socio-political sense.
The Last of the Hippies: A Review
by Joachim Hiller
Former CRASS-Drummer Penny Rimbaud published Shibboleth in 1999, a book in which he already wrote a lot about his adventures with CRASS, his hippie years and the fight about Dial House, the commune of CRASS. Ever since then he’s been writing essays regularly, but before Shibboleth his output was limited. Most of his works were CRASS-related, such as “Reality Asylum” (1977), an angry statement about christianity, or "A Series of Shock Slogans And Mindless Token Tantrums" (1982) about the death of his friend Wally Hope. Hope and Rimbaud once organized the Stonehenge hippie festivals in cooperation. The festivals enraged both politicians and police. 1975 Wally Hope was arrested and imprisoned for possession of LSD. He died in prison. In a text coming with the 1982 CRASS record Christ - The Album Rimbaud refered to Hope’s death as murder by government authorities. The Last of the Hippies is a re-publication of this text and helps to understand the intellectual and political context of CRASS’ agitations. Rimbaud’s analytical introductory remarks about the political development in the UK and the 70s punk scene are almost more fascinating than the text itself. One must not agree with everything he writes but it can’t be denied that describing the SEX PISTOLS as only interested in money and CLASH as hypocrites are interesting statements regarding the history of punk. If you are interested in CRASS and anarcho punk in general you shouldn’t miss out on this book.Buy book now | Download e-Book now | Back to reviews | Back to top