60s Rock & Roll. Wow!

Please welcome our guest today, Neill McKee while on his WOW! Women on Writing virtual tour of his book, Kid on the Go! Memoir of My Childhood and Youth. We are lucky to have his thoughts about living through the 1960s rock and roll culture. But here’s Neill in his own words.



Surviving the 1960s Rock n’ Roll Culture

by Neill McKee

Chapter 12 of Kid on the Go! begins with the words: “As my hormones went from 2nd into a smoother 3rd gear, I began to follow my brother’s and our friend Blake’s lead. We often wore our shirt collars up and used lots of Brylcreem to curve our hair forward at the front and slicked down on the sides, forming a ducktail at the back, exactly like Elvis Presley. We had entered the Rock & Roll world of the early 1960s.” I also wrote, “This period of my life is embedded in my memory like a series of movie vignettes that appear to have little purpose until you reach the end.”

I titled the chapter Canadian Graffiti, after the popular movie, American Grafitti (1973), which looked back at the decade in a very accurate and amusing way, at least for me. English Canada had the same hit parade and rebellious culture. Hot rods, cruising the streets with no particular purpose other than to impress girls and maybe take some to the local A&W Root Beer Drive-in, where pony-tailed waitresses on roller skates would serve us. The early part of the decade was quite innocent—no drugs, just plenty of booze, and no protests against Vietnam. The voice of the hilarious disc jockey, Wolfman Jack, penetrated the airwaves—kind of a bard the era. In our small town, “the same hit parade played in the soundtrack of our lives—One, two, three o’clock, four o’clock, rock; Why do fools fall in love?; At the hop; You’re 16, you’re beautiful, and you’re mine.

I quit playing hockey and hung out with a gang of guys who also didn’t care much about doing well in school—just drifted through. I met a girl and dated her for most of three years. I rebuilt old cars and a motorcycle, and got involved in drag races. I worked at my dad’s farm equipment factory after school in order to pay for all that. No extra-curricular school activities for me. That was for “brown nosers” and “goody-goodies.”

In the chapter, I relate that when I finally saw the movie in the mid-1970s, my attention shifted to Curt, played by Richard Dreyfus, the narrator of the story. “Curt is supposed to leave for college the next day, but he appears to be getting cold feet. Then he meets Wolfman Jack in a surrealistic and rather disappointing way. It’s evident Wolfman is kind of a fake and a letdown, but, surprisingly, he does tell Curt not to waste his future—to get on with his education.” The movie ends when Curt flies off on the plane for university, leaving behind all the characters who were just like my teenage gang. Curt finishes university but then flees to Canada as a draft dodger and becomes a writer.

I had a similar but slower trajectory, for real mentors and reading influential books changed things for me, as described in the chapters that follow. Like Curt, I would finish university and eventually became a writer, and “like him, my rebellion against the norms of strait-laced, do-gooder, North American, youth culture, gave me lessons and insights I would never forget.”


Book Summary

In this new book, McKee takes readers on a journey through his childhood, adolescence, and teenage years from the mid-40s to the mid-60s, in the small, then industrially-polluted town of Elmira, Ontario, Canada—one of the centers of production for Agent Orange during the Vietnam War.

McKee’s vivid descriptions, dialog, and self-drawn illustrations are a study of how a young boy learned to play and work, fish and hunt, avoid dangers, cope with death, deal with bullies, and to build or restore “escape” vehicles. You may laugh out loud as the author recalls his exploding hormones, attraction to girls, rebellion against authority, and survival of 1960s’ “rock & roll” culture—emerging on the other side as a youth leader.

After leaving Elmira, McKee describes his intensely searching university years, trying to decide which career path to follow. Except for a revealing postscript, the story ends when he accepts a volunteer teaching position on the island of Borneo, in Southeast Asia.

Purchase your copy now available on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, or Bookshop.org. Make sure to add it to your GoodReads reading list too.

About the Author

Neill McKee is a creative nonfiction writer based in Albuquerque, New Mexico. He has written and published three books in this genre since 2015. His latest work is Kid on the Go! Memoir of My Childhood and Youth, a humorous and poignant account of his growing up in an industrially-polluted town in Ontario, Canada, and his university years. This memoir is a stand-alone prequel to his first travel memoir Finding Myself in Borneo: Sojourns in Sabah (2019) on his first overseas adventures in Sabah, Malaysia (North Borneo), where he served as a Canadian volunteer teacher and program administrator during 1968-70 and 1973-74. This book won the 2019 New Mexico/Arizona Book Award for Biography–(other than a New Mexico/Arizona subject) and a Bronze Medal in the 2020 Independent Publisher Book Awards (Ippy Awards).

In late 2020, McKee also released Guns and Gods in my Genes: A 15,000-mile North American search through four centuries of history, to the Mayflower—an entertaining account of how he searched for his roots in Canada and the US, in which he employs vivid descriptions, dialog, poetic prose, analytical opinion, photos and illustrations. In this work, McKee slowly uncovers his American grandmother’s lineage—ancestors who were involved in almost every major war on North American soil and others, including a passenger on the Mayflower, as well as heroes, villains, rascals, and ordinary godly folk. Through his search, McKee exposes myths and uncovers facts about the true founding of America.

McKee, who holds a B.A. Degree from the University of Calgary and a Masters in Communication from Florida State University, lived and worked in Asia, Africa, Russia and traveled to over 80 countries on assignments during his 45-year international career. He became an expert in communication and directed/produced a number of award-winning documentary films/videos, and wrote a many articles and books in the field. McKee is now busy writing another travel memoir on his career. He does readings/book signings and presentations with or without photos. He prefers lively interactive sessions.

Follow the author online at:

Author’s website: www.neillmckeeauthor.com

Kid on the Go! book page: www.neillmckeeauthor.com/kid-on-the-go

Kid on the go! buy page: www.neillmckeeauthor.com/buy-3

Author’s digital library: www.neillmckeevideos.com/

LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/neill-mckee-b9971b65/

Facebook: www.facebook.com/McKeeNeill/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/MckeeNeill

NBFS: www.northborneofrodotolkien.org


 Thank you for being with us today, Neill.

Huge success with your new book,

Kid on the Go! Memoir of My Childhood and Youth.


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