They trafficked in sex, drugs, music, and subversive politics. They held peaceful protests and violent insurrections. They were the leaders of the most significant cultural transformations of the 20th century. From political heavyweights like the Black Panthers to cutting-edge cultural trendsetters like Andy Warhol’s Factory crew to Harvard professor turned psychedelic advisor
Timothy Leary — they questioned authority, celebrated nonconformity, and dared to be different. VH1 Rock Docs premieres a new 5-part series “Lords of the Revolution” beginning on Monday, August 10 – Friday, August 14 at 8pm* airing on VH1 and VH1 Classic. Narrated by
Richard Belzer, each hour-long episode of “Lords of the Revolution” celebrates the counterculture icons of the ’60s and ’70s — the legends who defied the social, political and cultural mores of their time including:
Muhammad Ali, The Black Panthers,
Timothy Leary, and Cheech and Chong.
Edgy, colorful, and visually dynamic, each hour long episode of “Lords of the Revolution” features rare archival footage and photos as well as new first-hand accounts and interviews including (to name a few),
George Foreman, and
Perry Farrell — all combined to tell the compelling, dangerous and subversive stories of a revolution that continues to influence popular culture today.
“Lords of Revolution” Episodes include:
MUHAMMAD ALI AIRS ON MONDAY, AUGUST 10
In an era defined by protest and turbulence, perhaps nobody captured the attention of America in the late 1960s more so than
Muhammad Ali. As heavyweight champion, Ali electrified the sports world with his sharp tongue and showmanship for flair. But out of the ring, his conversion to Islam and defiant refusal to fight in Vietnam thrust him into the center of a blistering political controversy. Ali never backed down and gave a voice to black America that helped galvanize the civil rights movement. He also fueled the anti-war movement, inspiring young adults to question the government and speak out. He spoke his mind freely, defended his religious beliefs with vigor, and willingly accepted the consequences of his actions, which later cost him his title and license to box.
CHEECH AND CHONG AIRS ON TUESDAY, AUGUST 11
From the moment they broke onto the scene in the early 1970’s, Cheech and Chong began redefining comedy. At a time when drug culture was still considered taboo, they boldly emerged from a cloud of pot smoke with a brand of humor that both championed and lampooned stoners everywhere, much to the chagrin of the establishment. A string of successful comedy albums and relentless touring established the duo as “the rock-n-roll comedians” whose popularity continued to soar as stoner culture seeped into the mainstream. Suddenly, there were head shops everywhere and by 1977 President
Jimmy Carter was in favor of legalizing marijuana. Then came Cheech and Chong’s first film, Up in Smoke, which became an instant classic, immortalized by pot smokers to this day, and launched a successful Hollywood career for the comedy duo as they continued the marijuana crusade until their breakup in 1985.
THE BLACK PANTHERS AIRS ON WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 12
In the late 1960s, there were few radical groups more controversial than The Black Panthers. Led by the dynamic personalities of
Huey Newton and
Eldridge Cleaver, the Panthers boldly challenged white America to deliver justice and opportunity for all. Armed with guns and clad with berets and leather jackets, the Panthers advocated self-defense; initiated social service programs nationwide; and became a defiant symbol of Black Power. They also become a target as the FBI and police waged a bloody war to bring the party down.
TIMOTHY LEARY AIRS ON THURSDAY, AUGUST 13
From the moment Harvard professor
Timothy Leary ate magic mushrooms in 1960, his life would never be the same. Advocating the use of LSD and other mind-altering drugs to expand consciousness, Leary transformed himself from an eccentric Harvard professor into the leader of the 1960s psychedelic counter-culture movement. Leary’s influence helped shape the music, fashion and politics of a new generation. He defied authority and fought the government at every turn, earning the title, in President Nixon’s words, as “the most dangerous man in America.”
ANDY WARHOL AIRS ON FRIDAY, AUGUST 14
From 1964 – 68, Warhol’s factory on East 47th Street provided a social arena for collaborative experimentation. Warhol developed an eclectic network of associates that spanned the worlds of poetry, fashion, film, photography, art, music and the drug culture. Speed freaks, drag queens, musicians, poets, superstars, fashion beauties, and avant-garde artists helped shape a scene unique in American history at a time when Warhol produced some of his most revolutionary work.
“Lords of the Revolution” is the newest entry in the Emmy Award-winning VH1 Rock Doc franchise. VH1 Rock Docs are feature-length documentaries that tell unique stories of artists and music from a wide range of genres, styles, and musical perspectives.
“Lords of the Revolution” is a production of VH1. Martin Torgoff is the writer and consulting producer.
Ted Kim serves as supervising producer.
Shelly Tatro and
Jeff Olde serve as executive producers for VH1.