Britain in the 1980s was a tale of two countries - one half of the country was feeling the benefits of Thatcher’s privatization and outsourcing schemes, whilst the other was economically ramshackled.
Financial differences aside, the 1980s was also known for its envelope-pushing music, questionable fashion, and growing counterculture.
Let’s step into the proverbial time machine and explore the United Kingdom in the 1980s - the fourth decade under the reign of Queen Elizabeth II.
1980 - John Lennon Assasinated
John Lennon made controversial statements in 1966 about the Beatles being more popular than Jesus, and it was those remarks that proved to be the rationale behind his horrible assasination in 1980.
In one of the most shocking stories of the decade, the former Beatle was shot dead outside his New York City apartment and departed from this world at the age of 40. Lennon’s songs Imagine, and Give Peace a Chance continue to be played and appreciated by audiences to this day.
1981 - Royal Wedding
The nation celebrated the magnificent wedding between Prince Charles and Princess Diana on 29 July 1981.
In typical Royal fashion, there was exuberance, pageantry, and plenty of pomp and circumstance as the Prince of Wales and Lady Diana tied the knot.
The Royal Couple would be together for 11 years - separating in 1992 before finalizing the divorce in 1996, just a year before Diana’s tragic death in a car crash.
1985 - Live Aid
Bob Geldolf and Midge Ure founded Live Aid - a concert whose goal it was to raise money for the impoverished nation of Ethiopia - in 1985.
Held across two cities, London and Philadelphia, the concert showcased acts like The Who, David Bowie, U2, Sting, and Phil Collins to a massive attendance and a global television audience.
Live Aid raised a whopping $127 million for charity and all the money went to the famine relief project.
1986 - Maradona Heroics in Mexico
The 20th anniversary of the 1966 World Cup ended in heartbreak for England as they were soundly beaten by Argentina in Mexico.
Both Argentine goals came courtesy of Diego Maradona. One was a blatant handball over Peter Shilton that has since been described as the ‘’Hand of God’’ goal, whilst the other was a stunning solo effort that left England’s defenders on their backsides.
Both goals encapsulated Maradona as a player - deeply controversial, yet incredibly gifted.
Gary Lineker won the tournament’s Golden Boot, but England once again returned home empty-handed.
Domestically, England’s national league was rife with hooliganism and public disorder, and the beautiful game was in serious need of renovation.
Major Industries Privatized
1986 also saw the introduction of the privization era, with British Gas, British Airways, the National Bus Company, and several other businesses being sold off to private owners.
The change was met with mixed reactions throughout the nation and proved to be yet more evidence of Britain’s ever-increasing division.
1989 - WWW Invention
Perhaps the most revolutionary invention of the 20th-century was unleashed in 1989 as Sir Tim Beners-Lee created the World Wide Web.
Though it was only an archaic form of the Web, Berners-Lee’s invention built the platform from which the modern internet was built. At first, the WWW was only used by researchers to share information, but the first public forums appeared in the early 1990s and the Web has not looked back since.
Synth-Pop, Hip Hop, and Shoegaze
The music of the 1980s was as eclectic as they come, with synth-led acts like the Human League and Tears For Fears being in stark contrast to the moody shoegaze of My Bloody Valentine and Jesus and the Mary Chain.
The seeds of hip-hop were sown in the late 80s, with the genesis of the genre occurring in the working-class districts of New York City.
Music would continue to change itself throughout the 80s, and the decade gave us some of the most iconic acts of all-time.
Britain was changing in the 1980s. It felt like the last decade of the ‘old world’, as the burgeoning Internet technology and overall technological achievements of the age would set the stage for the 1990s.
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