John "Hoppy" Hopkins (born 1937) is a British photographer, journalist, researcher and political activist, who was a highly influential figure in the UK underground movement in London in the late 1960s.
At age 20 he graduated from Cambridge University (which he'd entered on a scholarship in 1955) with a master's degree in physics and mathematics, and embarked upon a career as a nuclear physicist. However, a graduation present of a camera changed his career. Arriving in London on January 1, 1960, he began to work as a photographer for newspapers, music magazines including the Melody Maker, and Peace News. He photographed many of the leading musicians of the period, including the Beatles, Rolling Stones, Duke Ellington, Thelonious Monk and Louis Armstrong. He also recorded the seedier side of London, with photographs of tattoo parlours, cafes, prostitutes and fetishists.
By the mid-1960s he had drifted into the centre of London's emerging underground scene and recorded many peace marches, poetry readings and "happenings", as well as photographing leading counter-cultural figures including Allen Ginsberg and Malcolm X. He compiled and stencil-duplicated the names, contact details and interests of all of London's "movers and shakers". He then gave all of them a copy. This action is credited with greatly boosting the cultural velocity of the 1960s London-based underground movement.
In 1965, with Barry Miles and others, he helped set up the London Free School in Notting Hill. This in turn led to the establishment of the Notting Hill carnival, first organised by Rhaune Laslett with the guidance of local activists including Michael X. In 1966 Hopkins and Miles co-founded the influential magazine International Times (IT). He remained a member of its editorial board and a major contributor, and founded BIT, the information and agitprop arm of IT. Hoppy favoured the more anarchistic elements in the "underground" centred around Ladbroke Grove. These included a key figure Mick Farren, who by 1967 was also working at the IT newspaper. He also helped set up the legendary UFO Club with Joe Boyd, with Pink Floyd as the resident band.
On June 1st, 1967, Hopkins was sentenced to nine months in prison for keeping premises for the smoking of cannabis and possession of cannabis. The judge described him as "a pest to society". The following day, Steve Abrams began co-ordinating a campaign for the liberalisation of the law on cannabis. This led to the publication in The Times on July 24th of a full paged advertisement which described the existing law as "immoral in principle and unworkable in practice", signed by Francis Crick, Graham Green, doctors, members of Parliament and the Beatles. Paul McCartney arranged the funding for this advertisement as a tribute to Hoppy, at the instigation of Barry Miles.
In 1968 Hopkins founded the BIT Information Service.
In the 1970s Hopkins was involved in researching the social uses of video for UNESCO, the Arts Council, the Home Office and others, and edited the Journal of the Centre for Advanced TV Studies. Later, he worked as a technical journalist in the video trade press, and co-authored distance learning video training courses. More recently he has taken and exhibited macro photography of flowers and other plants, and co-authored papers on plant biochemistry at the University of Westminster. He has also exhibited his photographs of events and personalities in the 1960s.