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Wavy Gravy, whose real name is Hugh Nanton Romney, is a counterculture icon and social activist who rose to prominence in the 1960s.
Romney is best known for his association with the psychedelic movement, the hippie culture, and his involvement in various social and humanitarian causes. Here is a detailed history of Wavy Gravy:
Early Life and Background:
1. Birth and Childhood (1936): Hugh Nanton Romney was born on May 15, 1936, in East Greenbush, New York. He grew up in a middle-class family and attended a Catholic school during his early years.
2. Early Career (1950s): In the 1950s, Romney pursued a career in stand-up comedy under the stage name "Lantern Jaw." He performed in various clubs and venues in the New York City area.
The Transition to Wavy Gravy:
3. 1960s Counterculture Movement: Romney's transformation into Wavy Gravy coincided with the rise of the counterculture movement in the 1960s. He embraced the spirit of the times, adopting the hippie persona and experimenting with psychedelic substances.
4. The Hog Farm: In 1966, Romney and a group of like-minded individuals founded a commune called "The Hog Farm" in Sunland, California. The commune embodied the principles of communal living, love, and artistic expression.
5. Woodstock Festival (1969): Wavy Gravy gained widespread recognition as the "Please Force" at the iconic Woodstock Festival in 1969. He and his Hog Farm commune provided security, medical assistance, and free food to the thousands of attendees.
Social Activism and Humanitarian Work:
6. SEVA Foundation: In 1978, Wavy Gravy co-founded the SEVA Foundation, a non-profit organization dedicated to preventing blindness and providing eye care services in developing countries. SEVA has made a significant impact on global public health.
7. Camp Winnarainbow: Romney established Camp Winnarainbow in Laytonville, California, a summer camp that focuses on circus arts, clowning, and creative self-expression for children and adults.
8. Benefit Concerts: Wavy Gravy has been involved in organizing numerous benefit concerts, including the "Nobody for President" campaign and "Earthquake Relief in Nicaragua" concerts, which raised funds for various social and environmental causes.
9. Activism and Advocacy: Over the years, Wavy Gravy has been a vocal advocate for peace, environmental sustainability, and social justice. He has used his platform to support various causes and organizations.
10. Film and Media: Wavy Gravy has made appearances in several documentaries and films, including the documentary "Wavy Gravy: Saint Misbehavin'" (2009), which explores his life and contributions to the counterculture.
11. Symbol of the 1960s: Wavy Gravy remains an enduring symbol of the 1960s counterculture and the ideals of peace, love, and social change that defined that era.
12. Awards and Recognition: He has received numerous awards and honors for his humanitarian work, including the Lifetime Achievement Award from the SEVA Foundation and the Hugh M. Hefner First Amendment Award.
Wavy Gravy's life and work have left an indelible mark on American culture and activism. He continues to be an inspirational figure for those who seek to make the world a better place through creativity, compassion, and social consciousness.