15 Rock & Roll Rebels

For these 15 revolutionaries, the only place to be was on the outside looking in.

Plastic People of the Universe

plastic people of the universe
Karel Suster

The members of Czechoslovakia's Plastic People of the Universe took rebel music as a matter of life and death. Born out of the suppression of the Prague Spring uprising in 1968, the band was forced underground by the hardline Czech government. Named for a Frank Zappa song, the Plastic People revered the Velvet Underground. In 1976, they met with the writer and emerging political leader Vaclav Havel, just before bandmembers were arrested as dissidents. Their resistance energized Havel, who told his colleagues, "We're never going to get anywhere unless we put our butts on the line like these kids have." Worn out by fighting the powers that be, the Plastic People shut down in 1988, one year before Havel led the Velvet Revolution – named, some claim, for the American band that inspired a bunch of Czech hippies to take a stand.

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