Do you remember "Frodo Lives!"?

The unassuming hobbit became a rallying counterculture cry in the Sixties and Seventies.

Read to Me

In the 1960s, counterculture was the word. Some icons of the movement are self-explanatory: flowers, the Beatles, long hair. Turn on, tune in, drop out.

But some counterculture icons were less likely than others. And in fact, there was one that was downright fantastical — from a fantasy book series, that is.

"Frodo Lives!" The slogan, talking about Lord of the Rings protagonist Frodo Baggins, sprang into existence in the 1960s and soon became associated with the hippie movement and anyone pushing back against authority. In the 1960s and 1970s you could find "Frodo Lives!" on graffiti, buttons, shirts, and more.

The fanlore article on "Frodo Lives" says that the phrase came into being as a debate of Frodo's ultimate fate at the end of the book series. Some thought that he traveled with Gandalf and the elves to become immortal, others insisted he remained mortal until the end of his days. But it soon became much, much more.

A 1966 Time Magazine article on Lord of the Rings on college campuses wrote "The hobbit habit seems to be almost as catching as LSD." (Perhaps Joe Friday will catch Blue Boy of "The LSD Story" fame passing out Tolkien books in some future Dragnet episode.)

The article goes on to say "On many U.S. campuses, buttons declaring FRODO LIVES and GO GO GANDALF—frequently written in Elvish script—are almost as common as football letters."

A cracked article explains that "Apparently, popular opinion among readers of the era was that Frodo was totally hardcore and a lucid metaphor for '60s hippies who felt held down by 'The Man'." The writer speculates that hippies found a kindred soul in Frodo, who was given duties by more powerful authority figures who sent him to do the dirty work.

The fanlore article suggests that '60s and '70s youths connected with him because "Frodo was seen as an "everyman" who accomplished the task no one else could: also, men who were drafted to fight in Vietnam were for the most part working class, ordinary fellows, as sons of rich families could buy their way to an easier spot to complete their service, or get out of it altogether."

It's likely that like a lot of culture icons, eventually people who had never read the books were parroting this phrase. It had become something bigger than Tolkien.

While the phrase lost popularity with the waning of the hippie era, it still pops up from time to time. The 2000s Lord of the Rings movie trilogy even used it in advertising, likely stirring some memories of parents who had now become "the man".

 
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denny 12 days ago
Never heard that, but I remember Killroy Was Here.
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Michael 15 days ago
Don't forget, about 1967, Leonard Nimoy record "The Ballad of Bilbo Baggins". I remember it being played on Dr. Demento in the mid-seventies.
kimmer Michael 14 days ago
The "Doctor" was a staple to listen to back in the day. Underground music...!!!!
harlow1313 DuanneWalton 14 days ago
It was interesting to see this early incarnation of The Teletubbies.
Peter_Falk_Fan kimmer 13 days ago
Dr. Demento's show used to take me away, ho ho, hee hee, ha ha. I would listen to Casey Kasem and Dr. Demento on the weekends. I liked how they added story tidbits to the songs and/or singers.
kimmer Peter_Falk_Fan 13 days ago
I'm right there with you...i c[uldnt wait to turn on my huge stereo..don my what seemed 8 lb. headphones...and chill to the tunes and stories...lol
Runeshaper 16 days ago
WOW! I never knew about this. I am a HUGE LOTR fan and this is super interesting!

FRODO LIVES!!! (-:
Michael 16 days ago
In 1971, "Gandalf Technology" started up, selling telecommunication equipment, including modems eventually. It went bankrupt in 1997.
Peter_Falk_Fan 16 days ago
Go Go Gandalf? I never heard that phrase. I know "Go Go Gophers". I used to watch them go go go.
kimmer Peter_Falk_Fan 13 days ago
Go go gadget???...lol
MrsPhilHarris 17 days ago
I read the Hobbit and Lord Of The Rings eons ago. Do not remember the saying.
justjeff 17 days ago
Whether good or bad, I've never read, seen or discussed "Lord of the Rings"... For some reason, the books/films, etc. just never appealed to me. Sorry sci-fi geeks.... it just wasn't my thing...
Michael justjeff 16 days ago
But Lord of the Rings somehow made it into the mainstream. Yes, people into fantasy read it, but it made it into the mainstream, maybe especially among college students. Hence this slogan was probably a mainstream thing.

For a while, one company was selling the trilogy in the US, but not paying royalty, claiming some reason. That got some flack, so a new edition was published by another company, the "authorized edition".

The first company was well known for science fiction and fantasy, the second was Ballantine Books, which probably helped it go mainstream.
Runeshaper justjeff 16 days ago
The movies are EPIC! Definitely worth a try (-:
denny justjeff 12 days ago
The first movie is OK, the rest not so much. Once was enough for me.
harlow1313 17 days ago
Well, we sixties and seventies hipsters rallied around Jean Shepherd's cry, "Flick Lives!"

"Excelsior, you fatheads!"
Barry22 17 days ago
First time I ever heard of the expression.
Michael 17 days ago
I'm vaguely aware of the slogan. But it doesn't show up in all of the books I've read about the period. That suggests it's a notion of "counterculture as trendy fashion" rather than serious change.

Chester Anderson was into science fiction, and is famous for running ComCo from shortly before "the summer of love". So science fiction did influence the counterculture. Let's not forget "A Tribute to Doctor Strange", a concert in San Francisco in Oct 1965, some of the earliest part of the San Francisco scene.
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