A Beginner’s Guide to Psychedelic Rock

This article is a collaborative effort, crafted and edited by a team of dedicated professionals.

Contributors: Andranick Tanguiane, Fred Lerdahl,


Psychedelic rock, also referred to as psychedelia, is a diverse style of rock music that originated in the late 1960s. This guide covers the history and basics of psychedelic rock.

What is Psychedelic Rock?

PsychedelicRock is a subgenre of rock music that emerged in the mid-1960s. It is characterized by distorted guitars, trippy lyrics, and mind-bending sound effects. If you’re new to the genre, this guide will help you get started.

The Birth of Psychedelic Rock

Psychedelic rock is a musical genre influenced by psychedelic culture, typically marked by distorted guitars, lyrics about mind-altering experiences and drug use, extended instrumentals, and an experimental or avant-garde sound. The first psychedelic rock songs were written in the mid-1960s, and the genre rapidly gained popularity during the “Summer of Love” of 1967. Psychedelic rock reached its peak in popularity during the late 1960s and early 1970s with bands such as Pink Floyd, The Doors, Led Zeppelin, The Jimi Hendrix Experience, Cream, and Crosby, Stills & Nash. The genre began to decline in popularity in the late 1970s amid claims that it had become too commercialized, and was further hurt by the disco backlash of the early 1980s. Nevertheless, psychedelic rock has exerted a lasting influence on various subsequent subgenres of rock music, such as acid rock, stoner rock, proto-metal, art rock and glam metal.

The Sound of Psychedelic Rock

Psychedelic rock is a style of rock music that is inspired or influenced by psychedelic culture and attempts to replicate and enhance the mind-altering experiences of psychedelic drugs. It often uses new recording techniques and effects and draws on non-Western sources such as the ragas and drones of Indian music. Psychedelic rock broke into the mainstream with the release of the album Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band by the Beatles in 1967.

The Psychedelic Rock Revolution

The Psychedelic Rock Revolution of the 1960s was a time when music and culture were changed forever. Psychedelic rock music was created to make people feel something different than what they were used to feeling. It was a time when the world was changing and Psychedelic Rock was at the forefront of that change.

The San Francisco Sound

In the mid-1960s, a new music scene was developing in San Francisco that would come to be known as the “San Francisco Sound.” This sound was defined by a new type of rock music that blended elements of folk, blues, and jazz with traditional rock ‘n’ roll. This new sound was influenced by the use of psychedelic drugs, which were becoming increasingly popular among young people at the time.

Psychedelic rock bands such as The Grateful Dead, Jefferson Airplane, and The Beatles were at the forefront of this new sound. They were joined by other bands like The Doors, The Byrds, and Pink Floyd who would go on to define the genre. These bands would become known as some of the most influential groups in rock history.

The San Francisco Sound would ultimately give rise to a new wave of psychedelia in the 1970s and 1980s that would come to be known as “acid rock.” Acid rock is defined by its heavy use of distortion and feedback, which was often achieved by using electric guitars with high gain settings. This sound was popularized by bands like Led Zeppelin, Jimi Hendrix, and Van Halen.

The British Invasion

The British Invasion was a musical movement in the mid-1960s that saw British rock and roll bands gain massive popularity in the United States. The term is also used more broadly to refer to the wave of British groups that emerged in the wake of the Beatles’ success following their appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show in February 1964. While many of the groups that came to be associated with the British Invasion were already established acts in their native Britain, they became international stars thanks to the power of American radio and television.

The Beatles were undoubtedly the most successful and influential group of the British Invasion, but they were far from the only ones. In fact, a whole host of other talented British bands found themselves caught up in the phenomenon, including The Rolling Stones, The Kinks, The Who, The Animals, and Herman’s Hermits. These groups helped to shape the sound of rock and roll for years to come with their innovative songwriting, musicianship, and style.

Psychedelic Rock Today

Psychedelic rock is a subgenre of rock that emerged in the 1960s. It is characterized by its use of electronic effects, unusual sound textures, and often complex song structures. Psychedelic rock today is a broad umbrella term that can refer to a wide variety of styles.

The Legacy of Psychedelic Rock

Psychedelic rock, also referred to as psych rock or garage rock, is a subgenre of rock music that explores the use of psychedelic drugs to induce altered states of consciousness. The goal of this type of music is to replicate or enhance the experience of psychedelic drugs.

Psychedelic rock emerged in the mid-1960s and was pioneered by artists such as the Beatles, the Beach Boys, and the Grateful Dead. The genre reached its height of popularity in the late 1960s and early 1970s with bands such as Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin, and Black Sabbath.

In recent years, there has been a resurgence in interest in psychedelic rock, led by bands such as Tame Impala,LCD Soundsystem, and Arcade Fire. These bands have revitalized the genre by incorporating modern production techniques and sounds into their music.

The legacy of psychedelic rock is one that continues to influence artists today. If you’re interested in exploring this genre further, we recommend checking out some of the classic albums from the 1960s and 1970s, as well as some of the more recent releases from contemporary artists.

The Future of Psychedelic Rock

Psychedelic rock is a genre that is often associated with the past; however, there are many artists today that are keeping the genre alive. If you’re a fan of psychedelic rock or are interested in checking out the genre, here are some contemporary artists that you should check out.

Tame Impala is an Australian psychedelic rock band that has been compared to The Beatles and Pink Floyd. Their sound is dense and dreamy, and their live performances are known to be an intense experience.

King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard is another Australian psychedelic rock band with a sound that is heavily influenced by jazz and blues. They have a very eclectic discography, with each album exploring different sounds and genres.

Unknown Mortal Orchestra is a New Zealand-based band whose music draws from a variety of genres including psychedelic rock, R&B, and funk. They have been praised for their innovative songwriting and chilled-out vibes.

Thee Oh Sees are an American garage rock band with strong psychedelic influences. Their music is high energy and often described as “psychotic.” They’re known for their chaotic live shows, which often end with the destruction of their instruments.

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