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The Baby Boomer Generational Differences

Updated on May 2, 2012
The 1st Boomer Cultural Idol-Elvis-1956
The 1st Boomer Cultural Idol-Elvis-1956
Foghat- early 70's
Foghat- early 70's
The 2nd Boomer Cultural Idol-The Beatles- 1965
The 2nd Boomer Cultural Idol-The Beatles- 1965

We're huge. Getting old and older. Refusing to think that age has impact, as if we are immune. We are like this huge tidal wave with the same values and likes. I think that is a myth, of sorts. The baby boomer generations all lived in different times, all experienced different cultural differences while growing up in America. There some similarities, but each generation of boomers is different.

Baby boomers are those born in the US from 1946 to 1965. That is a whopping 20 year gap from the oldest boomers just now entering retirement and those years away. The unifying elements between all the groups is rock and roll, cars, TV. Yet, even within those areas, boomer likes in what kind of rock music and cars depends on their age of influence-namely the Jr. High-High School years. These are the years that really define what kind of boomer they are. This period still defines most soon to be adults.

For those who were 10-18 in 1956-9, their lives were heavily influenced by early rock and roll and the Elvis culture (hair style, clothes, talk, general look) assuming their parents allowed it. This was where the word "teenager" began. They were the first of the "rebels". Oddly enough, those most impacted by Elvis influences were born in 1940-43, the years all of the Beatles were born! They are not considered "baby boomers". Much of the Elvis culture continue to impact the first baby boomer group into the early 60's. This group loved hot rod cars like the 56-57 Chevy, which remained popular through the 60s. Their rock music has a distinctive sound.

For those who were 10-18 in 1964, can be the called the second baby boomer group. This group was largely impacted by The Beatles, but because Elvis still was present, Elvis influenced those in their late teens. This is where the first divide occurs. Those kids at age 10 in 1964, adopted the Beatle culture 100%, those were 15-18, remained more loyal to the first baby boomer group. The differences in clothes, fads, music, hair was large, especially in their music likes. As the Beatle culture dominated the 60's, the Elvis culture vanished. Like the first boomers, as second group grew up in the late 60's, they also liked fast, cool looking cars, TV. Cars still in demand like the 1965 Mustang, 1966 Corvette Stingray, the Ponitac GTO, Chevy Corvair and many more. They also adopted the iconic VW Beetle (not Beatle). Unlike Elvis, who remained the same, The Beatles evolved and changed their style, forcing millions to do the same.

Then, usually the first and second boomer groups could be spotted instantly by their clothes and hairstyle. The styles were opposites, especially for guys.

The third group would be born in the early 60's, but grew up in the 70's. Like the mixing of the 1st\2nd boomer groups, the 2nd\3rd boomer groups mixed, but the differences were much more subtle. That is because the hippy clothes of the late 60s continued well into the 70s. The Beatles are known to this group, but are not revered like the 2nd group. This group generally could give a hoot about hot cars. It was more into drugs, being loose, wearing cutoff jeans, T-shirts and having even longer hair. They were more down to earth hippies. Their music was still different than the 2nd group in sound, still rock, just heavier. Groups like, Foghat, Badfinger, Led Zeppelin, Santana, Peter Frampton, Bee Gees, Styx, Lynyrd Skynyrd were top acts. The Beatles no longer existed.

Thus, the 1st group of boomers have little in common with those of the 3rd group. Their styles and values are very different. In fact, members of the 3rd group may call the 1st group, "old". Members of the 2nd group actually got the best of both. They appreciated Elvis, but did not revere him. They liked hot cars, but 60's cars. They liked the looseness of the 3rd group and were accustomed to their traits because they were similar to their own.


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    • perrya profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago

      Yea, I'm in the 2nd group, for sure. The Beatles were so much more important than Elvis, even he knew it. By 1968, even Elvis quit greasing his hair back and took on the dry look-no hair grease. Remember Vitalis?

    • UnnamedHarald profile image

      David Hunt 

      6 years ago from Cedar Rapids, Iowa

      I was born in 1952, didn't care much for Elvis and thought the music scene in the early Sixties was pure drek. It all changed when the Beatles appeared on the Ed Sullivan show in 1964. I guess I'm a perfect Boomer 2.0. I definitely remember the draft lottery.

    • perrya profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago

      Well, that too. No questions about that. But, those of the 2nd group really were too young, at least those who were under 15 in 65, to really care much about the war or racial issues. Those were mostly 1st group issues.

    • Davesworld profile image


      6 years ago from Cottage Grove, MN 55016

      Born in 1947, I'm a leading-edge boomer. I'm also unusual in being a rare hippie that had short hair - I was working my way through college and the job demanded a traditional haircut. I personally think that the real defining thing for the boomers was Vietnam. Men born before 1952 were all subject to the draft, those born later at least had a chance with the draft lottery. That is more of a divider among us than anything else.


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