‘Easy Rider’ was the 35mm celluloid Woodstock; it was the reckless hippy gypsies’ manifesto of endless asphalt ribbon. Of course it has dated, the fact that the road trip was funded by smuggling cocaine from Mexico has lost its romance, as has the whole – in retrospect grotesque – glorification of drugs. On the other hand, Peter Fonda’s film was the first to portray LSD as a horror show. Either way, people my age watched Fonda on the edge of our seats, wanting to be him; to feel that liberation through wind and speed across America’s boundless space, to be by that camp fire. But we didn’t want to be attacked by club-wielding rednecks, we didn’t want the bad trip, and certainly didn’t want to be gunned down on a lonely road.
In this way, Fonda was the cautionary tale in all that summer of peace and love. He took the 1960s dream out of the comfort zone, away from Haight Ashbury, Sunset Boulevard and Greenwich Village, out into real America – where it twisted into nightmare.